Working the Kick Pedal on Bass Drum with Heel: Techniques and Considerations
When it comes to playing the kick pedal on the bass drum, there are different techniques you can employ to achieve the desired sound and control. One technique that many drummers utilize is working the kick pedal with their heel. In this article, we will explore the heel-down and heel-up techniques, discuss seat height adjustment for optimal foot technique, and touch upon the concept of burying the beater for different sonic effects.
Seat Height: Finding the Right Balance
Before delving into the specific techniques, it’s important to ensure that your seat height is properly adjusted. The seat height plays a crucial role in maintaining balance and facilitating the execution of foot techniques.
To achieve the ideal seat height, follow these guidelines:
- Adjust your seat height so that your hips are slightly higher than your knees. This alignment promotes stability and allows for proper foot positioning and movement.
- Avoid having your hips drop below your knees, as this can shift your center of gravity and lead to unnecessary pressure on your lower back and hips.
- On the other hand, be cautious of setting your seat too high, as it may limit your ability to utilize ankle techniques and rely solely on a full-leg bass drum technique.
Remember, finding the right seat height is subjective and may require some fine-tuning based on your individual physique and comfort level.
Heel-Down Technique: Controlled and Balanced
The heel-down technique involves dropping your heel to the ground or the base of the pedal plate and resting your foot on the remaining surface of the pedal. This technique relies on the ankle as the pivot point for transferring energy from the foot to the pedal.
The heel-down technique offers several advantages:
- Ability to play softly and maintain control over dynamics.
- Enhanced overall balance, with the center of balance centered on the drum throne.
However, it’s important to note that the heel-down technique primarily engages the shin muscle (Tibialis anterior). This muscle is responsible for exerting the necessary force on the bass drum pedal. Consequently, fast or intense playing can quickly fatigue the shin muscle. The heel-down technique is commonly used in acoustic settings, such as jazz, lounge, and coffeehouse performances.
Heel-Up Technique: Dynamics and Speed
The heel-up technique is similar to heel-down, but with the heel slightly raised off the pedal board by 1-2 inches. This technique provides drummers with increased options in terms of dynamics and speed. Additionally, the heel-up technique is less fatiguing on the shin muscle compared to the heel-down technique.
When using the heel-up technique, the focus remains on the pivoting of the ankle to provide the stroke, similar to the heel-down technique. It’s essential to maintain a consistent ankle motion and avoid excessive reliance on the upper leg for generating energy and power. Excessive movement of the knee indicates an overemphasis on the upper leg, which should be minimized for optimal technique.
Burying the Beater: Sonic Considerations
An often-debated aspect of bass drum technique is whether to bury the beater or allow it to rebound off the drumhead naturally. Burying the beater involves leaving it pressed against the bass drum head after striking it, resulting in a quick and muted sound.
The decision to bury the beater or not depends on your sonic preferences:
- If you desire a quick and muted sound, you can choose to bury the beater, effectively stopping the natural resonance of the drum.
- If you prefer the drum to resonate and sustain, it’s advisable not to bury the beater, allowing it to rebound off the head naturally.
However, when burying the beater, be mindful of any residual “dribble” that may occur if there isn’t sufficient pressure holding the beater against the drumhead. Controlling this dribble is crucial to maintain a desirable sound.
By experimenting with burying or not burying the beater, you can explore different sonic effects and tailor your playing style to suit various musical contexts.
- DRUM! Magazine – Lesson: Heel-Up Vs Heel-Down Bass Drum Foot Technique
- wikiHow – 4 Ways to Play a Kick Drum
Can I use my heel to work the kick pedal on the bass drum?
Yes, you can use your heel to work the kick pedal on the bass drum. There are specific techniques, such as heel-down and heel-up, that allow drummers to effectively utilize their heel for foot control.
What is the difference between heel-down and heel-up techniques?
The heel-down technique involves dropping your heel to the ground or the base of the pedal plate and resting your foot on the remaining surface of the pedal. This technique emphasizes ankle movement as the pivot point for transferring energy to the pedal. On the other hand, the heel-up technique involves slightly raising the heel off the pedal board, providing more options in terms of dynamics and speed.
How can I adjust my seat height for optimal foot technique?
To adjust your seat height for optimal foot technique, follow these guidelines:
- Set your seat height so that your hips are slightly higher than your knees.
- Avoid having your hips drop below your knees, as this can affect your balance and put unnecessary pressure on your lower back and hips.
- Ensure that your seat is not too high, as it may limit your ability to use ankle techniques and rely solely on a full-leg bass drum technique.
Which technique is best for playing softly and controlled?
The heel-down technique is excellent for playing softly and controlled. By dropping your heel to the ground and utilizing the ankle as the pivot point, you can achieve a delicate and precise sound while maintaining overall balance.
Which technique is better for achieving speed and dynamics?
The heel-up technique is better suited for achieving speed and dynamics. By slightly raising the heel off the pedal board, drummers can execute faster and more powerful strokes, offering greater control over dynamics.
What is meant by “burying the beater”?
“Burying the beater” refers to leaving the beater pressed against the bass drum head after striking it. This technique results in a quick and muted sound, reducing the natural resonance of the drum.
Should I bury the beater or let it rebound off the drumhead?
Whether to bury the beater or let it rebound off the drumhead depends on your desired sound. Burying the beater creates a quick and muted sound, while allowing it to rebound off the drumhead naturally allows for more resonance and sustain.
Are there any considerations for avoiding excessive strain or fatigue on the foot and leg muscles?
Yes, it’s important to avoid excessive strain or fatigue on the foot and leg muscles. By maintaining proper technique, such as utilizing the ankle as the primary pivot point and avoiding excessive movement of the knee, you can minimize strain and fatigue. It’s also essential to warm up before playing and take breaks when needed to prevent overuse injuries.