In this lesson we will look at the different
ways we can play our bass drum pedals. If you want to learn about
hihat technique, check out the specific lessons on them. Bass Drum
and Hihat technique are different.
There are 2 main ways to play the pedals; heel up and heel down. First position the ball of your foot on the bass drum pedal 2/3rds of the way up the foot plate. Don’t put your foot all the way up to the chain, as the shape of the pedal may indicate, as you don’t get the most effective use of the board if it’s too far up.
If you’re playing heel up you generally raise the heel off the foot plate 2-3 cms. Make sure the ball of the foot doesn’t leave the pedal though. With the heel raised you get extra leverage and can usually play louder and faster with heel up technique.
To play heel down, simply don’t let the heel off the foot plate. With the foot permanently on the foot plate you’re not using the leg and ankle so much, but rather the muscles on the outside of the shinbone to push the beater towards the drum head.
Heel Down is a great technique to use if you don’t want to bury the beater into the head. If you want a longer, sustained sound from the bass drum, you need to let the beater rebound off the skin, just as you would let a stick rebound from any other drum. This is very easy to do with heel down. Since the sustained sound is very popular in jazz, a lot of jazz drummers play heel down.
With hand technique you use a bigger muscle group to control and stabilize the stroke, like the arm. As you get faster you convert to a smaller muscle group, the wrist/forearm to play medium tempos. And to play fast you convert to using more fingers.
The same principle applies to foot technique. If you’re playing slower, use more leg in the stroke, meaning pivot at the hip more. If you’re playing faster, use more ankle.
As with stick technique, to play softer play the beater from closer to the head. To play louder let the beater come further back and put more effort into the stroke.