How to Build Drum Speed, Part 4: Bass Drum Speed

When it comes to improving your drum speed, especially bass drum speed, you’re going to have good days and bad days. Be patient as your leg muscles grow and stretch. Keep it mind that the legs and feet have more muscles and larger muscles than the hands and arms.

One thing that I always have to remind my own students is that your feet will never go as fast as your hands. It’s just how we’re built. Before you can develop bass drum speed, it’s good to work on bass drum exercises that help you develop control. A great resource for bass drum exercises is Colin Bailey’s book,
Bass Drum Control (affiliate link).

The Drumming System (affiliate link) says that one of the secrets to bass drum speed is to wear ankle weights while you practice. This well help you develop the muscles in your legs. After a practicing with them, go back and practice without the weights. You will notice results immediately. Another tip for developing bass drum speed is to try playing as loud as you can for a long period of time while wearing ankle weights.

A great exercise is to practice playing singles on your feet heel down and heel up. Playing heel down, you will feel the burn. If you find this boring, put a practice pad on the snare and play along. Years ago, my teacher Chet Doboe, the founder and musical director of the Hip Pickles Drum Band, taught me to practice the samba to develop my foot technique. The samba is great exercise because it allows you to work on controlling two notes in a row.

The Drumming System (affiliate link) recommends Hansenfutz (affiliate link) pedals for training. These are great because you practice in any chair that you are sitting in. You can even them under the desk in your office.

Learn and Master Speed Metal Drumming

Speed metal is a sub genre of heavy metal music that began in the late 1970’s and carried on through the 1980’s. Bands such as Slayer, Slipknot, Lamb of God, Strapping Young Lad, and Deathklok really made a name for themselves in this style. Drummers such as Chris Adler, Dave Lombardo, Joey Jordison, Gene Hoglan are the masters of speed metal. Be sure to check out as much of their playing as you possibly can.

The Drumming System (affiliate link) suggests that this style is more geared towards intermediate and advanced drummers. I am inclined to agree.

For intermediate drummers, it’s good to master driving, powerful beats with one foot. Even if you want to use a double bass pedal to play the beats, it’s important to first develop a very fast, powerful single foot. Do the exercises slow and then speed them up.

Advanced drummers are usually crazy double bass players. You get to go nuts! The key thing to remember is that everything has to align properly. You don’t want the hi hat not aligning with the bass drums or the snare flamming with bass drums. The Drumming System (affiliate link) gives you advanced patterns include sixteenth notes and sixteenth note triplets with double bass.

It’s rare that a drummer can actually play this style with a single bass drum pedal, but it’s not impossible. The challenge is that your volume won’t equal that of two bass drums. It’s very important that you do a thorough warm up before playing speed metal or you will cramp up.

I’ve always looked at speed metal as the most physical form of contemporary drumming. If drumming were ever to be considered a sport, speed metal would be the main part of the game. Although it’s not my thing, I have a deep respect for the musicians who play this style and admire the level of speed and stamina they have developed.

My favorite speed metal group is Slipknot because they wear creepy masks when they perform.

Professional Punk Rock Drumming

According to the Drumming System (affiliate link), punk rock began in the late 1960’s and carried on through the 1970’s. The movement was popularized by bands, such as the Descendants, the Black Flags, the Ramones, and the Sex Pistols. Drummers such as Bill Stevenson paved the way for many of today’s top punk drummers.

Contemporary bands like Green Day and Blink 182 keep punk alive today. Green Day’s drummer, Tre’ Cool and Blink 182’s drummer, Travis Barker are highly regarded in the world of drumming. Punk music has become more popular than ever. In fact, the Broadway musical, American Idiot, is an adaptation of Green Day’s album, American Idiot.

Although I’m in no way an expert on punk drumming, I have spent a good amount of time teaching private lessons to punk drummers in New York. Some argue that the style is very simple and not worthy of mentioning. In terms of complexity, most punk beats are simple. Regardless, you need to understand the feel of these beats to play them well. Like any style of music, I suggested you do a good amount of listening. The previous paragraph provides an outline for finding good discography of material to listen to.

The Drumming System (affiliate link) does a very thorough job of teaching punk beats. It teaches beginner, intermediate, and advanced beats.

  1. Beginner beats include quarter notes, eighth notes and some open hi hat.
  2. Intermediate beats include sixteenth notes, toms, and fancier open hi hat patterns.
  3. Advanced beats get faster and a little more syncopated.
  4. Punk fills can be very challenging. The fills are usually very busy and comprised of sixteenth notes, sixteenth note triplets, and open hi hat. An effective way to practice them is to do a beat for one bar and then a fill.
  5. The Drumming System (affiliate link) also has play along songs (music minus drums) for you to practice with.

One of the challenges that I have regularly encountered with teaching many aspiring punk drummers is lack of technique. I’ve witnessed many drummers WORKING TOO HARD to try to play as fast as they can. Speed is very important in punk drumming! It’s also important to prevent yourself from getting an injury. The Drumming System (affiliate link) has an incredible amount of material on developing good technique and speed.