Your bass drum technique holds utmost significance when it comes to playing the drums proficiently. But let’s be honest, that applies to every aspect of learning to play the drums. It applies to the right-hand technique, the left-hand technique, and the left-foot hi-hat technique. But we’re just focusing on the bass drum technique for now.
That said, the quality of your bass drum sound can make or break a beat. It has to be played confidently and in time. So it’s important to make sure you’re doing everything you can to get the best possible sound out of your drums.
When played correctly, it can add power, precision, and punch to your beats. When played poorly, however, it can make your rhythms sound sloppy and unfocused. That’s why proper kick drum technique is so important.
In this article, we’ll break down the basics of proper kick drum technique and show you how to apply it to your playing. So you can get every ounce of groove from every performance.
From this point, let’s presume that you are right-footed. The lefties just do the same with their lead foot.
Position The Bass Drum for Proper Bass Drum Technique
Start by making sure your bass drum is in the correct position. See my recent posture post for more details on positioning the drums. After that, make sure that your pedal tension is not too tight and not too loose. When laze, I like to keep the beater at an angle of approximately 45 degrees from the bass drum head. Then, when you press the bass drum pedal, this helps to ensure you get a full, rich sound out of your bass drum.
When the bass drum is tuned correctly of course.
Kick Drum Tips And Posture
Next, pay attention to your posture when you’re playing. Make sure you’re not hunched over the drums, as this can cause tension in your shoulders and arms and makes it difficult to play with proper technique. Instead, sit at the kit and maintain good posture. Don’t, for instance, push your body forward as you strike the drum head. And don’t put all your weight onto the pedal to force it down. Maintaining good posture will help you to stay relaxed and play with more power and precision.
Remember that the power comes from the sound of a well-tuned drum head and the controlled strike. Not, a big boot forcing the pedal down so that the beater digs into the drum head.
Kick Drum Technique and Controlled Bounce
When engaging the pedal, ensure to flick it downward rather than exerting the full weight of your foot, allowing the beater to strike the head with optimal impact.
By that point, you should have let go of the initial force. The pedal plays the drum. You play the pedal. And just like the sticks, you let the beater bounce onto and off of the drum head.
As you would when playing a drum using a stick. Use a consistent stroke when striking the pedal.
Regulate the rebound of the beater upon striking the drum head and subsequently bouncing off, utilizing the bass drum spring or chain mechanism for optimal control.
A good way to practice this is to set up a metronome at a slow tempo and play single strokes on each beat. As you become more comfortable with the stroke, increase the speed of the metronome until you’re able to control the bounce.
The Mechanics of Proper Bass Drum Technique
Now that we have covered the basic technique. Let’s take a look at the process involved in producing that technique. We already eluded to it but for clarity, let’s go over it here.
Mae sure your posture is good and your right leg is parallel with the ground when your foot is positioned 3-4 inches down the bass drum pedal board. Your heel is 1-3 inches off of the pedal so the biggest part of your foot that touches the pedal is the ball of your foot. Slightly elevate the middle and back of your foot (heel) from the pedal’s surface, maintaining a raised position.
If you lift the weight off your pedal so the beater is about 30-40 degrees to the drum head… then this is the starting position. Your upper leg should be parallel with the ground at this starting position.
And so, from this position, you can put a little weight onto the pedal and cause the beater to bounce. Press your weight onto the pedal a few times and let the pedal bounce. Don’t put so much weight onto the pedal that the beater hits the drum head. Instead, control the bounce then all of a sudden tap the pedal with more weight to force the beater to bounce into the head and immediately off again and back into the bouncing motion.
That is how you play the actual beat on the bass drum head.
Some drummers lie to twist their heels outward to the right a few inches as they perform this motion. Which again, is a controlled bounce. You are really just bouncing the pedal board and letting the beater bounce without touching the head. Then when you want to play a note, apply more weight and let the beater hit the head and then back off the head again. Bac into the bouncing position.
Naturally, continuous bouncing of the pedal is not recommended. The purpose of this technique is to grasp the concept that striking the drum with the beater involves a swift flick of force from the foot, allowing it to promptly rebound while keeping the ball of your foot anchored on the pedal board.
To play a double stroke you simply do the exact same thing as previously described. But make the single flick of power twice. Again you may like to flick your heel to the right as you do this. Although I find the heel motion is more or less automatic. Not something I think about. It’s just a way to describe how the double strokes are made.
If I were to describe the same double stroke another way. I would say it like this:
- Exert force on the pedal, allowing the beater to rebound off the drum head as it moves away from it.
- Swiftly reapply power to strike the drum once more.
In this, the first beat is more prominent and the second beat is simply a bounce back into the head.
So that is the motion of the foot in regards to striking the drum head with the beater. Now let’s take a look from a different perspective.
The Basics of Proper Kick Drum Technique
After understanding the process we just covered. There are three main elements of proper kick drum technique:
- Muscle memory,
Let’s take a look at each one in turn.
Muscle Memory: The key to playing any drum beat is developing muscle memory. This means that your muscles need to be able to instinctively know where to go and what to do without you having to think about it. This can only be achieved through learning a beat, practicing the beat, and repetition f the practice.
So, if you want to develop good kick drum technique, you need to put in the time and effort to practice regularly. By that I mean to practice what you just learned repetitively. If you are new to drums then you are in the learning stage.
So read this article a few times until you are able to imagine the process clearly.
You can then proceed into the practice phase.
Relaxation: Another important element of proper kick drum technique and drumming, in general, is relaxation. When you’re tense, your muscles don’t work as efficiently as they could. This can lead to fatigue, loss of accuracy, and poor sound quality. So, it’s important to relax your body and mind when you’re playing.
When you feel tense, take a few deep breaths and focus on letting go of any tension in your muscles. This will help you play better and feel better too.
Remember you are developing muscle memory so the muscles need to be relaxed. The first part of this process is programming the motions into your mind.
Breathing: Breathing is another crucial element of the proper kick drum and drumming technique in general. When you breathe correctly, you supply your muscles with the oxygen they need to function properly. This helps prevent fatigue and ensures that you’re able to play with power and precision. In a relaxed and controlled state.
So, make sure to take regular breaks during your practice sessions.
By practicing regularly and focusing on relaxation and breathing, you can develop good kick drum technique. This will help you play with power, precision, and Punch. And make your rhythms sound tighter and more focused overall. So don’t overlook the importance of proper kick drum practice and technique. It’s essential for any drummer who wants to improve their skillset!
Thanks for reading!
The Drum Coach