By: Nathan Buckland
Hi guys, my name is Nathan Buckland. I am a Metal drummer from the valleys of southeast Wales. I play in an alternative metal band called Scarsun, and I am also an EDM composer/producer. In this blog, I will help guide you all through your journey of double bass drumming.
Double bass drumming – seems and looks cool, doesn’t it? Well, that’s because it is. Double bass drums or double kick pedal, they are fantastic and incredibly useful for fills and keeping a solid rhythm. I doubt many know this, but double bass drumming was popularized by a jazz drummer, Louie Bellson, who came up with the idea in high school. Over the years many drummers incorporated double kick into their own playing style, and it became popular in rock and metal that so many of us are familiar with. My first introduction to double bass drumming was Metallica, as I saw how cool Lars’ kit was since it had two kick drums. However, the first song I heard fast double kick was Trivium’s Falling to Gray and I thought to myself “I want to do that”. And so, years later, I bought my first double pedals from Gear4Music and started playing to my favorite metal songs.
My First Time Playing Double Kick
I have had drum lessons, but never with double kick. So, I taught myself how to control my weak leg. It felt really weird at first as I never really used my weaker leg at all (apart from open and closing the hi-hat). However, I quickly learned how to control my weaker leg and started blasting (or kicking). How I taught myself control wasn’t by rudiments, (shocking! I know) but just by playing along to a lot of metal songs. I just got used to using my weaker leg. I wouldn’t really recommend that as rudiments are important to develop techniques, which we all need to do in order to get better over time. It took me longer to develop some sort of an ankle technique by playing to songs than actually learning control by rudiments. It was fun playing metal songs when I had the chance, but I would definitely tell my younger self to do rudiments and practice to a metronome.
If any of you are interested in starting using double kick, I would recommend buying a cheap double pedal to start off with. I started off with Gear4Music’s standard double kick pedal that cost £64.99, which was very cheap for a double pedal and it was surprisingly durable as well for what it was worth. Setting them up is quite easy too, but bear in mind you’ll need a drum key to set them up. You have your right pedal that attaches two beaters, which comes with a bar where you then connect it with the left, or slave, pedal. The drum key is for the lugs that are attached to the bar for you to tighten onto the pedals. The bar is also adjustable so you can make the bar longer or shorter that fits your playing style. Now, if you want to play fast make sure the spring tension on both pedals is at maximum, and that the beater is at around a 45 angle. But as I mentioned before, practice to a metronome and your rudiments with your feet. I found that the throne height affects how you play with double kick, as there’s like a sweet spot you must find to help you play fast effortlessly (most of the time). For me, that’s usually a high throne height. I think that’s the same for everyone else. Once you first start out double bass drumming, find what works for you by experimenting with spring tensions, beater angle, and pedal/bar lengths, as every drummer has different preferences.
Types of Pedals
One thing to mention too is that there are different types of pedals. The most common ones that I am aware of are chain drive and a direct drive. I am more familiar with the chain drive as I only used that type and I have yet to use a direct drive, and other types of pedals. The difference between the two is the chain drive relies on chains, whilst the direct drive does not. Instead, it relies on its solid bridge. Drummers who play heel-up, such as myself, prefer chain drive whilst drummers who play heel-down prefer direct drive, but again it is a matter of preference.
Before you do get started double bass drumming, research on what pedals you think will best suit you. But again, start off with cheaper pedals rather than mid to high end pedals. There are a variety of different pedals from drum companies and manufacturers; such as Tama, Gibraltar, Drum Workshop, Mapex, Axis, and so many more. So always look out for the pedals’ features to further help you in your research. If you go for the double kick drum option instead of the double pedals, same applies. Research, practice, experiment and most importantly, have fun!Nathan is a talented drummer, playing for the Metal band Scarsun across South East Wales. Prior to this, he was a semi-professional. The band has had tracks played on radio stations across the UK, Australia, and the U.S and exposure in the magazine Independent Music showcase.