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Thread: Kick Pedal Questions

  1. #1

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    I have been drumming for almost 10 months now, and it seems like I'm getting everything down except for my kick pedal skills. For the most part I learned to play the kick wrong and now I'm learning the correct way to do it. I practice a lot and I'm not making any real progress. I was wondering if I could get any advice, on technique and my pedal settings. I have a double kick iron cobra and I play heel up.

  2. #2

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    Im kind-of new to drumming but i had the same problem as you at the beginning but somthing that helped me was to play heel-down it helped to keep time measures better with time i got used to it and i have no problems at all now
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  3. #3

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    Ok, learning 101 from a medical standpoint. Question. Do you think when you walk, skip, or jump? meaning does it come naturally with little effort on the part of your brain? Classically no. Reason. You are using your cerebellum. It is the part of the brain at the base of your skull (please forgive me if I am going over something that you already know, I do not know your background of neuroanatomy). This is the part of the brain that has got to be used to play drums (stick work, bass drum) and the cerebrum (The part of the brain that is cognitive and is for higher function) is used for reading sheet music and for creating the music which then translates to the cerebellum for the action on the drums through the arms and legs.

    Now that this is established; how do we get the cerebellum (the part of the brain that allows us to walk and not think about it) to take over when we play the drums and in your case the bass drum? When people say practice, practice, practice it is true. What you are trying to do is translate the info (rhythm, patterns, stick work from the thought part of the brain to the doing but not thinking about it part of the brain. It took me quite a few years to realize this is how we learn with something as abstract as rhythm and coordination. When you start, go at a speed that you can actually do what you are having problems doing on the bass. This can be boring but your cerebrum has got to be able to understand the data before it can move it to the cerebellum. Practice it. slowly move the speed up during your practice session. You are not going to get it during this time so do not get frustrated. What you are working toward is the next time you go to practice (i.e. the next day) that is when you will see the reward. This translation of data occurs when you are not practicing (i.e. sleeping).

    What I have noticed with myself and others is the discouraging portion when you are practicing and it is not working and you are not improving during the session itself. You have to remember it the session you are currently practicing will reward the next practice and so forth. Before you know it you will be able to play licks on your bass drum that are very intricate and talk to your buddies while you are doing it.

    I wish I had knew this is how we learn earlier in life. My drum skills particularly with double bass have gone through the roof practicing like I told you. Anyway sorry for the long post but I did not know any other way to tell you how.

  4. #4

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    Thanks you guys very much for your advice. Nucjd, you pretty much nailed what I've been doing. I practice a lot and the weird part is that I used to be able to play some of the beats I can't play now really easily, so I feel like playing slow is just beneath me...and it's really boring. But I'll take your word for it and practice slow for the rest of the night, and I'll see how tomorrow goes. But do you have any advice on seat height, pedal tension, and foot technique. I always feel like I'm doing something wrong and it discourages me from what I'm doing...it wouldn't be the first time I was practicing wrong.

  5. #5

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    Well, there are tons of opinions on seat height, foot position, pedal tension and the truth is it really depends on your comfort and that is it. I personally like my pedals to be tensioned up very tight based on how I play and the feel of the pedal. i will say this about seat height. For the sake of your knees keep your seat high enough to allow your femur (thigh) to be at least parallel to the floor. I keep mine a hair higher than that and it seams to allow me to play fast and with less effort. Cyclists keep their seat hight the same way which decrease strain in the knee. Again, do what you like. It is your kit and your past time what ever works for you is cool.

  6. #6

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    Its only been 10 months. Dont rush it.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by nucjd View Post
    Ok, learning 101 from a medical standpoint. Question. Do you think when you walk, skip, or jump? meaning does it come naturally with little effort on the part of your brain? Classically no. Reason. You are using your cerebellum. It is the part of the brain at the base of your skull (please forgive me if I am going over something that you already know, I do not know your background of neuroanatomy). This is the part of the brain that has got to be used to play drums (stick work, bass drum) and the cerebrum (The part of the brain that is cognitive and is for higher function) is used for reading sheet music and for creating the music which then translates to the cerebellum for the action on the drums through the arms and legs.

    Now that this is established; how do we get the cerebellum (the part of the brain that allows us to walk and not think about it) to take over when we play the drums and in your case the bass drum? When people say practice, practice, practice it is true. What you are trying to do is translate the info (rhythm, patterns, stick work from the thought part of the brain to the doing but not thinking about it part of the brain. It took me quite a few years to realize this is how we learn with something as abstract as rhythm and coordination. When you start, go at a speed that you can actually do what you are having problems doing on the bass. This can be boring but your cerebrum has got to be able to understand the data before it can move it to the cerebellum. Practice it. slowly move the speed up during your practice session. You are not going to get it during this time so do not get frustrated. What you are working toward is the next time you go to practice (i.e. the next day) that is when you will see the reward. This translation of data occurs when you are not practicing (i.e. sleeping).

    What I have noticed with myself and others is the discouraging portion when you are practicing and it is not working and you are not improving during the session itself. You have to remember it the session you are currently practicing will reward the next practice and so forth. Before you know it you will be able to play licks on your bass drum that are very intricate and talk to your buddies while you are doing it.

    I wish I had knew this is how we learn earlier in life. My drum skills particularly with double bass have gone through the roof practicing like I told you. Anyway sorry for the long post but I did not know any other way to tell you how.
    nucjd, you gave a excellent explanation of the process of coordination learning. I commend you for laying it out so well! As a former chiropractor, I should have this all firmly in mind as I practice, and yet I was recently frustrated by what I considered a lack of process on my part. Your post reminded me to chill, and let a natural process take place. Thank you!

    Quote Originally Posted by Northern Redneck View Post
    Its only been 10 months. Dont rush it.
    NR, simply stated, and right to the point as always. Right on the button my friend!
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  8. #8

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    One of the main problems new drummers have with playing double bass is that they see extreme metal drummers and they try to play at their speed. Speed is something that you can't just learn. You need to practice every day and build up.

    Start heel up and play with your entire leg, keeping your ankle semi-stiff and bending at the waist, practice there at a comfortable speed and develop those hip-flex muscles until you're comfortable playing (120bpm or so) for a good 10 minutes without getting tired.

    You've only just started, the technique you're using right now is referred to by George Kollias as "level 2", and this is only going to get harder.

    As you progress upwards in speed it will eventually become a waste of energy to keep up the up down motion through your hips; this is where you want to try level 3.

    At this speed (should be up to 180 or so bpm, semiquavers of course), you want your hips relatively relaxed, and your ankles doing all the work. It will feel very awkward at first, but you need to just practice and let it happen. Adjust the ball of your foot's position in relation to your pedal until you find that sweet spot (again, it will just come to you), practicing at this speed and position is even more uncomfortable than level 2, but you'll find once you're used to it it's actually easier for a long period of time, assuming you're not going for full power strokes.

    When you get even more intense (and you won't, for a long while), level 3 is putting too much pressure on the center of your calf muscle; this is where level 4 comes in. the idea behind this is that you're rotating your heel back and fourth about the ball of your foot. This sudden motion will both increase your speed as well as force yourself to use the entirety of your calves to remain steady for a long time.

    -don't try to skip levels. Make sure you're perfectly comfortable for the longest period of time at each level before trying to move on.
    -Position your drum throne further back than you might find normal; you want the front of the chair as close to your knees as possible while remaining comfortable seated, and you want your knees bent slightly forward, so that your legs are closer to straight than bent. Putting the throne up higher can also help with this.
    -Adjust those pedals. The faster you get the more annoying that throw is going to be. Make the beater travel a smaller distance by putting it closer to the hinge, and loosen up those bolts so it's easier for your calves to do the action.
    -Adjust that drum head. You want it tight, very tight. Reducing the throw and tightness of your pedals just made it difficult to get the pedal back started, and the solution is making a good snare-like surface for it to bounce off.

    You might be interested in the heel toe, dribble, or double swivel techniques.
    The heel toe technique puts your toe at the top of your pedal and allows you to play in a 4-way motion (left heel, right heel, left toe, right toe, repeat)

    The dribble technique is very fast and loud, but also very uncomfortable and difficult to sustain. If level 2 is your comfort zone, you might like this one. The technique is done by holding your feet off the pedal using your hip flexors and tapping your toes up and down like you're dribbling a basketball. I'd recommend starting in level 2 and then lifting up to accomplish this, just like you would with a basketball.

    The Double swivel technique, sometimes referred to as level 5, is just like level 4 but accomplishes a Mueller-like concept within it but hitting each side of your swivel twice (right heel leftleft, left heel leftleft, right heel rightright, left heel rightright, repeat)

    Having practiced each of these, I'd recommend the double swivel, although if you're comfortable with heel toe, it can be one of the fastest methods around, and Tim Waterson holds the world record at some 1300+ single strokes using this method. However, I wouldn't recommend you even get close to any of these until level 4 is doable, and by then you probably won't even be interested in getting faster, after all many drummers have been clocked at over 180bpm semiquavers with a single foot using this technique.

    Some of my favorite places to learn drum technique are videos of course, since I've never gotten actual lessons.

    Look up "spikydrummer" on youtube, he has tons and tons of videos presented in a well thought out and easy to understand way; you will learn something from him.

    Watch Intense Death Metal Drumming by George Kollias. He's hard to understand because he is Greek, but he's the master. What he says goes, and he's got lots of really good warm-up and endurance exercises.

    Extreme Metal Drumming by Flo Monier is really nice as well, and he will teach you some very helpful stretch, warmup, and practice exercises. For the classic melt your face speed and power, he was really helpful for me.

    Hope that helped,

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by nucjd View Post
    Well, there are tons of opinions on seat height, foot position, pedal tension and the truth is it really depends on your comfort and that is it. I personally like my pedals to be tensioned up very tight based on how I play and the feel of the pedal. i will say this about seat height. For the sake of your knees keep your seat high enough to allow your femur (thigh) to be at least parallel to the floor. I keep mine a hair higher than that and it seams to allow me to play fast and with less effort. Cyclists keep their seat hight the same way which decrease strain in the knee. Again, do what you like. It is your kit and your past time what ever works for you is cool.
    I understand what you mean, I keep my seat a little higher than parallel also. But for 9 months I had my seat as low as it could go and I played with my foot really high up on the pedal. But I looked up some stuff and raised my seat and now play at about halfway up my pedal. It has helped a lot but my foot is still lackin in the crackin.

  10. #10

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    I'd ditch the left pedal and just focus on the right for now.

    Play some basic beats and really focus on what your right foot is doing.

  11. #11

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    Let your foot decide what it's going to do by starting slow and working your way up.

  12. #12

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    [QUOTE=pastor_bob;240172]nucjd, you gave a excellent explanation of the process of coordination learning. I commend you for laying it out so well! As a former chiropractor, I should have this all firmly in mind as I practice, and yet I was recently frustrated by what I considered a lack of process on my part. Your post reminded me to chill, and let a natural process take place. Thank you!

    Thats cool. Chiropractor in a different life. I bet you keep a good eye on your form and position. It is so hard to fight through that natural urge to quit and get dissuaded. Just realizing it is all a part of learning can be just enough of a boost to continue with the pain.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Exotic Matter View Post
    I'd ditch the left pedal and just focus on the right for now.
    No offense intended by my comment, but I've heard people tell me this all of the time and I followed this advice until one day, all I could do was keep time with my right foot.

    If I had to do it all over again, I would of practiced just as hard with the left foot rather than "ditching it", maybe today I'd be miles ahead , instead of trying to catch up and train my left foot to be as strong with dynamics as the right foot.

    I found out at a late point in my life that there is no set formula to succeed in the performing arts except practice. Everybody learns at their own pace. Don't get discouraged. Keep practicing.
    Last edited by late8; 10-21-2009 at 05:22 PM. Reason: grammar

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