Whether you want to play blazing heavy metal or spiced up jazz, the double bass is a great tool. It can help breathe new life into boring old patterns, and above all it is a fun technique to use.
Learning how to use double bass pedals is an advanced drumming technique, so if you are new to drumming, it may be best for you to build some foundations before approaching this technique head on.
Take your time and develop your rhythm using a metronome, because all the double bass in the world won’t make up for a lack of rhythm. Not only will it cause you to throw your band off, but it will affect the listener as well. I suggest you get at least a full year of basic playing, including rudiments and regular bass drumming under your belt before you attempt to tackle the double bass pedal.
This will prevent you from getting in over your head. You may not realize it, but forcing yourself to learn a very hard technique early on can do more harm than good. It is very important that you learn the fundamentals first.
The first thing you have to consider when learning how to use double bass pedals is which form you would like to use. There are two types of double bass forms; heel up and heel down. Heel up is better for faster double bass playing, as it makes your feet lighter because you are putting less weight on them. Heel down is great for power, as your feet are closer to the ground and you are able to generate more of a kick.
Choose whichever feels more comfortable to start with, but once you have developed your playing with one, switch to the other. Not only does this help round out your style, but it adds more techniques to your bag. Each form has its own advantages and disadvantages, so knowing both will help perfect your double bass playing.
The best way to develop a double bass technique is to transfer your rudiments from your hands to your feet. Of course the most basic rudiment is the single stroke, so starting off with this, play a simple eighth note roll using both feet in an alternating pattern. Be sure to use a metronome to keep your rhythm steady, as it is easy to play outside of your time signature when learning a new technique.
Once you are able to play a consistent eighth note roll comfortably using single strokes, try using double strokes. This means two strokes per foot. When you strike, be sure you are playing a consistent pattern. Pay attention to your form; if you choose a heel up form, stick to it. If you perform a heel down form, stick to that as well.
As long as you are comfortable with your double stroke rolls, try adding voices. Try accenting the either the on-beat or the off-beat with the voice of your choosing. This is very important in learning how to use double bass pedals, as it helps build coordination. Once you have your technique down, try implementing it into your music.
While double bass is a great technique, try not to overdo your usage; it can become predictable after a while if all your songs consist of double bass. Remember to experiment, as you never know where the double bass technique will work. Have fun!
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