How To Play A Bass Drum
How To Play A Bass Drum
There are different ways to play the bass drum. Learn the three most common techniques, find the one that best suits you and your music, and impress with your skills.
Hello there. Today, we are going to talk about how to play the bass drum. There are a variety of different ways we can do this and like anything in the world, there is no correct way.
There are different ways. Some work to achieve different results, some don't work. What's most important is that you don't put it in such a way that it will cause you any injury or that is sort of inappropriate to the music that you're playing.
I suppose the most common and popular technique would be the heel up technique, where we actually use a combination of foot - leg strokes. The best way to go about kind of developing the feel for this is actually to spend some time literally just hopping up and down on the bass drum. Actually, I mean the pedal, not the drum itself.
You just want to kind of in a very relaxed fashion, with your legs loose, hop up and down on the bass drum pedal, so you find the best balance point. At this point, you're going to find that there are places that feel comfortable, there are places that don't. Your seat height and where you're positioned on the seat will also make a difference.
I tend to find that I play on the ball of my foot, roughly about, I don't know, somewhere between third and half way up the pedal. Actually, at this point, we found our balance position, we're hopping up and down on the bass drum, and now where we're getting, the heel comes up, and on every last stroke, if you're playing a series of two or three or four notes, what you want to happen is for your heel to drop. Now, by doing this, you're allowing the beater to return, which would give you a more open tone on the drum.
Now, let's take that tempo up a little bit. So, here, what we're getting are foot strokes and leg strokes. Another approach to playing the bass drum is to actually, literally, bury the beater, where the beater actually stays against the head.
Some people will tell you not to do this. It does produce a very, very thick, punchy, tight sound that is quite desirable. Most drummers in the seventies and eighties playing pop music used this sort of technique.
When playing using the buried beater technique, it's important to make sure that your calf muscles don't tense up. We want just enough pressure to keep the beater against the head. Some people will tell you not to play this way.
I say there are different ways to skin a cat and it produces a different tone. So, here we go, let's demonstrate a little bit of this. Now, the third way that we can play the bass drum is actually, literally, heel down, as if you were just tapping on the floor.
Now, at this point, if you stay relaxed, the spring will actually return the beater to you. This produces a softer tone. A much more open sound, particularly if you have a head with no hole on the front side of the drum.
It's the sort of technique that old school jazz and probably early rock ‘n roll drummers used. Literally, it's just that. And that's how to play the bass drum.