Foot Position: the bass drum can be played heel-up, heel down, or anywhere in between. There also is the Heel-Toe method.
Take your pick. There are MANY "correct" playing methods. I like to watch other drummers and see how they operate their pedals, and I sometimes try different ways of playing after seeing someone else use a method I didn't think of before... Whatever works for you. Be open & flexible I change my foot positioning depending on the song sometimes.
For heel-up, you are using the ball of your feet & the toes, somewhere
around the middle of the pedal.
Shoes: I sometimes play barefoot. To me, playing in thick shoes is like playing with gloves on. Unfortunately, most clubs & rehearsal rooms are not usually clean, so for most projects I'll use thin sole sneakers. But for complex bass stuff, I play barefoot. That's just me.. To play the heel-toe method described below, you MUST be barefoot.
Is Your left foot weaker than your right? When
you first move to double bass, you can't assume your
I built up my left using Kenny Aronoff's Power Workout book. It really helped - plus it has made my right leg much better. I recommend it highly- not just for double bass drumming but for bass drum playing in general. You can apply it to single bass, but it roars with double bass. It works independent of legs & arms & builds up both legs. It is easy t start & you can work the exercises and a daily thing - I do the first workout with a few additions (I do the quads- 2 hand hits then left foot right foot then I do it again with a double foot on left then double foot right).
Just practice everyday. Start slowly, at a speed your weaker foot can do - it may seem too slow for your right leg, but you want to make sure your develop evenly & can keep steady with both legs, so start at the speed that you can keep at for longer than a minute. If you start at the speed your right leg can do, you will wear out your left too quickly.
To develop independence, don't just do alternating 16th. Try basic rudiments
- also try playing basic
AND USE A METRONOME! GET ONE! It will really
help make sure that you stay steady when you switch
Also, check out The Encyclopedia of Double Bass Drumming - I have it & it does have some good ideas. I think it is good to get that book too (Along with Kenny Aronoff's POWER WORKOUT)
Most Important: HAVE FUN!!!
Sitting Position: Make sure you are not sitting
too high or too low. Your knee should be bent at about a 90 degree angle
& you back should be straight. Now I find many drummers seem to sit
too low, because they think they can get power by pushing at the bass
drum. But in the long run I feel it slows you down. I like to sit a little
high so that my feet 'dangle' a little on the pedal, so I can 'dance'
on the pedals..
Balance: Trying to balance yourself on your stool without relying on your bass drum leg for support. If your leg is holding you up on the chair, it can't move as fast. It may be uncomfortable at first, but in the long run, you bass drum playing will be faster. Due to the fact that your leg is focusing on playing, not holding you up.
To Leave the Beater on the Head or Not: I think too much is made about not leaving the beater against the head after a hit. For some songs I PREFER the beater mashed into the head, for a real THUD sound. Less muffling needed, so the sound is still open. But no big boominess when not needed. You can also not mash it into the head when you prefer not to, for an un-choked sound. And again, since less muffling used, an even more open sound is achieved. I have also heard this, but as someone else commented, if you play heels up, you have trouble holding your leg up. Plus, most rock drummers muffle their bass drumso lifting the beater off the head to let it resonate is pointless unless, you take out the muffling. If you play an un-muffled bass drum, or do not like the extra muffling caused by leaving the beater against the head, don't leave it against the head between beats.
And if fact, smashing the beater into the head seems to be the sound many drummers want. So it is really a matter of opinion. I usually play heels up & leave the beater against the head. And I usually am aware of it, & I prefer the muffled sound. That's just me....
BUT.... when using a double pedal it is very important to not leave the beater against the head - it messes up the sound of the opposing foot's beats! When playing with 2 bass drums, it doesn't matter, but with a double pedal, if you leave one beater against the head, hits by the other will be muffled.
Quick Doubles Using the Heel-Toe Method: The way I do heel-toe (not exactly as everyone does I think), you get doubles. First: your heel hits then the toe hits a 2nd beat right after, and yes, it is a sort of 'rocking' motion (so your foot is rocking - while you are rockin' ! ! er.. sorry...) anyway, you sort of 'snap' the beater down for a 2nd hit using your toes.
To do this method, your foot MUST be up high enough on the pedal so that your heel can push down the pedal - it's not easy like a normal hit, but when you get the rocking motion down you'll find it doesn't rely only on pressure - you also use the bounce of the pedal. You will possibly need to remove a toe stop of you have it, or move it away as far as possible.
To play this properly, I play barefoot. I find shoes reduce your feel with the pedals, much like gloves do with sticks. When people do play with gloves, they use thin or fingerless gloves.
The best I can do to actually explain the foot technique is this:
1) BAREFOOT - put your foot all the way to
the top of the foot board - [get rid of any toe stop] your
2) push the beater against the head & hold it there (this
is not a hit - this is the staring point for
3) Raise up your heel. The toes & ball of the foot should
be holding down the beater still- that is
4) quickly bring down the heel -releasing the toe pressure at
the same time- heel should hit at
5) immediately then push your toes back down against the foot
board for the 2nd hit - while lifting
I hope that helps. Remember -Heel
is 1st hit. Toes hit the 2nd.
to about 1/2" above the pedal. When doing the doubles fast, the closer it is to the pedal (without
the heel resting on the pedal) the quicker you can push it down for a hit.
used to it.
and 'catch' the pedal with your heel. Then rock forward until your toes hit a beat just where you
normally would have. The heel 'hit' comes before that normal hit.
Setting Up the Pedals:I have both pedals pointing
right at me (the main kick pedal points to my right leg, hi hat& slave
kick pedal point to my left leg, so they are NOT parallel - because my
legs are slightly spread apart & my feet also slightly angle out.
They are positioned slightly wider than my shoulders.