bass drum pedal technique

High tension or low tension?

  • High tension

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  • low tension

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drumur

New member
On A lot of the posts I've read on bass drum pedal technique, many members tend to suggest tightening the springs for the best results. I seemed to be alone in advocating less spring tension and minimizing the amount of work and effort required to execute figures.
Every time I read the "tighten springs all the way" suggestions, I just read it and thought, oh well, this forum seems very "clickish" and after 46 years of experience playing with pros, I honestly get a feeling that what I have to share isn't respected and falls on deaf ears.

Tonight I was on the Simon Phillips web-site reading the questions and answers section and stumbled upon his view on bass drum playing. Because I have the utmost respect for his reputation and playing ability, I felt validated in my beliefs on this topic. Here are some of the posts.


Hello Mr.Phillips,
Question:
I've a question about how I should regulate my pedals. Well, I play double bass drum and I heared different opinions about it but I've difficult to understand & to feel which is the best solution to play high speed between those: regulate them with a high/medium tension to have a good/quick back or regulate them with a low tension helping the feet to push them softely without use a lot of strong and running faster? What do U recommend me? Or can U tell me please a good way o find a solution?

Simon:
I can only advise you on what works for me. I prefer low tension on my pedals - I feel it more musical. It shouldn't be an athletic exercise - just what feels comfortable. make sure the pedal is working well and smoothly and the beater is not having to travel to far back. It should be easy to play.


Question:
I have a big Problem with my feet. I sometimes cramp up with double hit's and I don't get it away. That's very, very annoying, because it has an effect on all my playing. Maby you have some technical exercises for heel up and heel down techniqes.

Simon:
I don't have any specific exercises for heel up/down - but all I can say is being relaxed is most important. Also to practice slowly with the heel down (to promote a relaxed way of playing) will help. Concentrate more on dynamics - playing quietly, playing accents and playing in time with a groove. Think about getting the beater off the head more than on the head. You have to dance with the feet - not too heavy footed.


Question:

Dear Simon, what do you think about the pros and cons of using a one-piece solid footboard with no hinge on a single or double pedal set up for power or other applications. I have tried almost every pedal since the 60's and still not happy, I also prefer a strap cam, DW has one out know that I might try, It seems the best foot position for me is the ball of my feet right at the hinge of other pedals and as such I feel I am losing some control. Your thoughts on this is greatly appreciated.

Simon:
Placing your foot so far back doesn't sound like a good thing to me. Everybody has their way of playing and sometimes they have strange ways of approaching, but I would try to get your foot up the pedal board a bit. I only know the Tama pedals now and they seem fine. (Iron Cobra - Rolling Glide). Give it a try. I used to use straps on my old pedals but since Tama came out with the Iron Cobra line, it is such a different action that even thoughn they made one model with me in mind with a strap, I prefered the chain. Just depends on how the pedals works. All I would say is don't use too much tension on the spring.
I advise setting the beater to the fullest extent and also take off the counter weight - I never use that.
This gives the pedal a large arc and great balance to start. You should be able to make the pedal work without the spring attached - difficult but possible. Next is the drum tuning. Do you use a lot of packing in the drum? Do you use a front head? These all affect how the pedal works regardless of the pedal adjustment.
Don't set the spring tension too tight. Use the marks on the Iron Cobra to get back to the "default" set up.I advise setting the beater to the fullest extent and also take off the counter weight - I never use that.
This gives the pedal a large arc and great balance to start. You should be able to make the pedal work without the spring attached - difficult but possible.
 

drumur

New member
If you had the same tight springs on your hands, would that help you play faster?
Why are the hands different than the feet?
why would a drummer want to make it any more work or effort than necessary to execute bass drum licks?
 

Howepirate

New member
drumur":2a7k2lb6 said:
If you had the same tight springs on your hands, would that help you play faster?
Why are the hands different than the feet?
why would a drummer want to make it any more work or effort than necessary to execute bass drum licks?
Could you play a snare and hi-hats with your toes?
 

Timekeep69

New member
I keep my tension kind of high, it causes the beater to leave the head quicker and adds to the momentum for doing fast double bass.
 

Brother_Bong

New member
I'd say medium-light. Plus my beater is above center on my 22", echoing what Simon said in that article, long arc, more momentum. I find when I have too much tension I can't get the beater off the head well enough. Sound weird huh.
 

drumur

New member
How do we play faster with our hands and wrists....with tighter springs? I rely on technique, rebound, velocity, distance variations...etc. Why wouldn't you be able to develop the same on the feet without pushing against spring resistance?
I'm just playing devil's advocate, as well as trying to find the best way to play the pedals.

In the ad on this site it states,
"How to double your pedal speed with half the effort. Guaranteed!"
By doing what...tightening the springs as tight as they go?
 

kErmit vOn zOmbie

New member
Howepirate":5qdnq78a said:
drumur":5qdnq78a said:
If you had the same tight springs on your hands, would that help you play faster?
Why are the hands different than the feet?
why would a drummer want to make it any more work or effort than necessary to execute bass drum licks?
Could you play a snare and hi-hats with your toes?
I actually saw footage of a guy who was born with no arms who played drums with his feet once. And yes he played the snare and hats with a stick held by his toes.
 

McForman

New member
kErmit vOn zOmbie":1bdpu0sv said:
I actually saw footage of a guy who was born with no arms who played drums with his feet once. And yes he played the snare and hats with a stick held by his toes.
Now that's something that I want to see.
 

kErmit vOn zOmbie

New member
McForman":9dcubmit said:
kErmit vOn zOmbie":9dcubmit said:
I actually saw footage of a guy who was born with no arms who played drums with his feet once. And yes he played the snare and hats with a stick held by his toes.
Now that's something that I want to see.
I don't think he ever played pro or semi-pro. The documentary was on him and how he'd coped with life up till 21 or so when they shot the documentary with no arms. The drums were just a 5 minute segment, but he got his kit out of the car, rolled it into the house set it up and then soloed away like an armless Keith Moon! It was really cool to see what strength of will and determination will do for you.
 

SGarrett

New member
I remember trying to bring this up when I was new and nobody wanted hear about it. I even mentioned the part where you should be able to play your kick pedal(s) with the spring off. Nope, that was just ridiculous. :roll:
 

drumur

New member
OK Garrett, then I'm not alone. I don't understand the rationale behind it.
Besides that, I've played on other Pro's kits and they do not have tight springs. I've watched videos and you can tell their springs aren't tight. Just watch Simon Phillips or Tommy Aldridge or anybody Pro.
How do you vary your dynamics(volume) if the spring is that tight? If you have to exert that much effort just to execute a stroke, then all strokes are probably the same volume.
Also, doesn't it wear you out?
I mean, I was a bodybuilder and would never want to have to push against a tight spring just to hit the kick.
My goal is to set up so that it is effortless to play my set.
In addition, I like to be in control of the pedal... with a tight spring, the spring has a mind of its own. It's boinging back and forth against you wishes LOL.

PS...I wish people would stay on topic...
I'm here for the same reason I would read a drum magazine. If I wanted to read superficial BS, I wouldn't go to a drum forum called "Drums My Life"

Could you play a snare and hi-hats with your toes?

Howepirate wrote:

drumur wrote:
If you had the same tight springs on your hands, would that help you play faster?
Why are the hands different than the feet?
why would a drummer want to make it any more work or effort than necessary to execute bass drum licks?



Could you play a snare and hi-hats with your toes?



I actually saw footage of a guy who was born with no arms who played drums with his feet once. And yes he played the snare and hats with a stick held by his toes.


kErmit vOn zOmbie wrote:

I actually saw footage of a guy who was born with no arms who played drums with his feet once. And yes he played the snare and hats with a stick held by his toes.



Now that's something that I want to see.
 

SGarrett

New member
drumur":3tsswjlb said:
OK Garrett, then I'm not alone. I don't understand the rationale behind it.
Besides that, I've played on other Pro's kits and they do not have tight springs. I've watched videos and you can tell their springs aren't tight. Just watch Simon Phillips or Tommy Aldridge or anybody Pro.
How do you vary your dynamics(volume) if the spring is that tight? If you have to exert that much effort just to execute a stroke, then all strokes are probably the same volume.
Also, doesn't it wear you out?
I mean, I was a bodybuilder and would never want to have to push against a tight spring just to hit the kick.
My goal is to set up so that it is effortless to play my set.
In addition, I like to be in control of the pedal... with a tight spring, the spring has a mind of its own. It's boinging back and forth against you wishes LOL.
Way. I don't really even worry about what the specific tension is. I just set my pedal up so it's as comfortable to play as tapping my foot on the floor.
 

FatherTime

New member
As a new drummer this is something I think about too.

I notice my technique dictates a tighter spring... read that, my sloppy technique dictates...

Sometimes _less as time goes on_ when I'm really groovin and just sort of letting it fly I lose the foot pedal. I've noticed with a lighter spring my foot leaves the board on an up stroke, then before I come in contact with the board again on a down stroke the pedal has rebounded and started down again. This is not unlike walking up or down stairs and thinking you still have a step left at the end when you really don't. In otherwords I start my down stroke but the pedal has taken off with out me already. Think air gap.

I know this is my own sloppyness because I can play without doing it with just a little effort. The other side of the coin is I can tighten the spring and have little trouble. I try to compromise and tighten a little and focus a little more. It's not something I really dwell on but I believe as time goes on and I improve I will play with a lighter and lighter spring... Then again you don't know what you don't know, do you?
 

TheYardstick

New member
Tighter springs are not for grooves and such, it's for double bass.

Higher spring tension ensures more rebound which is essential for high-speed double bass.

I prefer to crank my springs up all the way because I like my pedals heavy because I feel like I have more controlled over them,
 

Rob Crisp

New member
I've often wondered what other people do with spring tension.

I always figured it was more of a double bass thing, but lets not forget Simon Phillips plays double bass!

For myself personally, I like a bit of tension but not too much. It's just harder to execute three/four note patterns then.

I did try the no spring approach once... not much choice when it snaps on you :p And yes, it's possible, but hard.

I'd like to raise another point, head tension! If double bass drummers have their heads tuned lower than most, as I suspect they do, they won't get the same rebound off the head as a jazzer. Not to mention the port on the front will take away a little more rebound as well and most if not all double bass and rock guys have those.
 

PaulZILLA

New member
well, keep in mind here. most people are out to be super shredders, and use the springs assistance, me, i personaly could care less whos the fastest, if ya cant play slow too it does nothing. i have some dw7002's, and they are good pedals, not golden but good. i keep hearing TIGHTEN EM UP, and all that. well thats not my style, back when i was in a thrash/speedmetal outfit it worked for me, i needed the extra tension. now that i am playing a lot of jazz/funk groove stuff, AND a fair bit of double bass and double bass patterns(not just straight 16ths etc) it really helps to be able to articulate the notes just right and add that presences to it. so i play with medium/loose tension. if i could get away with it, i would play with looser tension, but these pedals tend to slack out without some tension on the springs.
 

Sticks1

New member
I use a DW9000. After playing with it, I keep it set pretty much at the factory presets, which is pretty loose. I play mostly funk, roots rock and Jazz. Obviously, I agree with Simon and the original poster. But, what ever floats your boat. My idvice to every drummer is get your beaters off those bass drum heads. I can't believe how many "good", even pro drummers squash their heads. That's lame for so many reasons. You want that beater to hit and get back ready to strike, let the drum resonate and get a sharp attack.
 
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