A gathering of sweaty, bruised, and battered metal fans stand in awl as Nile's George Kollias executes a perfect 32 note machine-gun pattern on his kick drums. As the concert lets out, the YouTube hits skyrocket for videos pertaining to bass drum technique, speed tips, endurance exercises, and quick gain gimmicks. While the majority chalks up the abilities of men like Kollias as "god like", the persistent are realizing the benefits of proper technique and countless hours of hard work. Although there are no immaculate coordination elixirs or superb technique pills, comprised here are 10 tips on playing double bass drums.
- When learning double bass drumming, acquire a metronome and discover the maximum BPM (beats per minute) that can be played cleanly. For 200 BPM aim to execute a sixteenth note (1 e & a count) between the clicks. The novice should begin with single strokes (one hit per foot) on the feet, maintaining a simple hand pattern on top.
- Practice leading with both the right and left foot. When learning double bass, or drums period, unison is key.
- Experiment with the "heel-down" technique of keeping your heels on the pedal's base plate or floor, as well as the "heel-up" technique of keeping your heels one to two inches above the base plate. When learning double bass, the average drummer finds it's easier to eclipse higher speeds using the heel up technique, but different strokes for different folks.
- Once the single stroke has been mastered, experiment with more difficult double strokes (2 hits per foot) while maintaining a simple hand pattern on top. Executing double stroke takes time and practice, and may not be practical for every drummer.
- The two foot techniques worth researching are, the "swivel-foot" and the "heel-toe" techniques, offering alternative methods for executing double strokes more effortlessly and effectively. When learning to play double bass, the Internet has thousands of foot technique videos, make sure to practice these techniques slowly at first to commit the movements to muscle memory.
- Good posture and proper breathing are crucial when playing double bass, always make sure to sit up straight and don't forget to breath.
- Similar to the drumstick, the foot pedals have their own fulcrum points. Experiment with foot-placement on the pedal's footboard to locate the fulcrum point. The fulcrum point is the balance point and when used properly, the feet need apply less force and hence greater endurance and faster speeds become capable.
- Once comfort is achieved practicing singles and doubles under simple hand patterns, experiment with more complex hand patterns. Try playing a paradiddle (RLRR LRLL) with the hands and straight singles or doubles with the feet, and inversely switch the two patterns playing paradiddles with the feet and straight single or doubles with the hands (experiment with the hands on different surfaces (drums and cymbals) and different variations).
- Find the right pedal(s) for the application. With all the pedal varieties on the market today, playing double bass can become quite a costly hobby. Experiment with different pedals both long board and short board models, and find the optimal fit to the music being played.
- Know when and when not to use double bass, the concept of musicality. Metal will traditionally require more extreme and excessive usage of double bass technique. The possibilities are endless in the drumming community when it comes to double bass, offering clever fill and beat variations. Avoid overplaying whenever possible, understanding the genre being performed and apply double bass where the song can call for it.
As with any hobby or talent, practice is key, and research can teach new and exciting techniques to break speed thresholds. When learning to play double bass, make sure to remain focused and open minded. The "gods" of drumming are humans too, who treat their craft with the utmost respect and have worked hard to execute the blistering speed, endurance, technique, and limb independence that leaves the listener dumbfounded. Commitment to proper technique and practice with a sense for musicality and open-mindedness yields the ultimate drumming machine.
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Strong, J. (2001). Drums For Dummies. New York City: Hungry Minds