Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Question About Double Bass Playing

I had a question come in via You Tube asking about some double bass issues...

"Hi, I have a couple of questions about drumming that I am hoping you can answer

First, I am having a hard time switching from playing heel down to playing
heel up. I cannot get control of my feet while playing double bass, I can
alternate right left right left but I can't ever keep it locked down to a straight
tempo, and I have been practicing for a long time now but I am not making any
progress. Do you have any advice that I could use?

Second, are there any workouts that work on the muscles that you use for
blasting? you know how they have calf raisers that help you with double bass
playing, I was wondering if they have a certain workout that could really help
with blasting.

please help!"

Thanks so much for the message...and I'm SUPER sorry it's taken me so long to get back with you. It usually only takes me a day or so, but I got so behind that I've been having to work through my inbox whenever I get the chance.

First question: Why are you switching? Are you wanting more power? Do you feel like heel up will make you play faster? Anytime you switch a part of your technique that's engrained in you, it's gonna be hard. So I always ask myself why I'm doing it...if you're gonna put in that much work to adjust something like technique, you want to make sure you know the reasons and can tell if you're achieving what you wanted to with the new technique. I use both techniques...I also use the slide technique on my bass drum playing. In my hands, I play traditional, matched, american, german, and french grips...all at different times depending on what the situation calls for stylistically. I learned them all so that I can incorporate them into my playing. That takes a long time though. You're just gonna have to keep putting the work in. My suggestion is to put your metronome on a comfortable tempo ad start playing eighth notes with the feet. Once you get that comfortable, move on to playing triplets with the feet (this is an alternating sticking, so it'll also help with the left foot leading on some beats). Once you've got that down, move on to 16th notes. Once you have all of those solid, start alternating them. A bar of eighth notes, a bar of triplets, a bar of 16ths, etc. Begin slow and work your way up in tempo. Make consistency, accuracy, and correct technique your goals, and not necessarily speed. The speed will come naturally. There's no easy way in this one...it's just gonna take lots of practice. But if you love playing the drums, that should be ok with you, lol!

Questino Two: Blasting is physically straining, that much you're correct on. I would suggest doing some light cardio a few of times a week (i.e. fast walking or jogging) for 30-45 minutes. Combine this with a light regimine of 3 sets of 10-12 squats, 3 sets of 10-12 lunges, and 3 sets of 15-20 calf raises. You want to build up all of the leg muscles, not just the calves. This is actually healthy to do whether you're blasting or not...it's good to keep the body in shape, especially when you're doing something as physically demanding as drumming. The best workout you can do is practice blasting. Set the timer for five minutes, set the metronome at a comfortable tempo, and get to work! Start your practice session off with this everyday. You should see dramatic improvements in accuracy, speed, and endurance within a couple of weeks.

Good luck bro...I hope you kill the double bass!

-Stephen T.


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