Drum Tips - Bass Drum Technique

Heel-Up or Heel-Down?

Heel-up bass drum technique works well for a big powerful sound.
Heel-down bass drum technique can give you much more control and speed.

For me it all depends on the type of sound I am trying to create. I can play much faster heel-down, this is the technique that Chuck teaches and it is the method that I have spent the most time practicing. Heel-down technique makes it easier to give the beater room to rebound off the bass drum head. The foot stops short of actually driving the beater into the head and lets the momentum of the pedal do the work. As the beater is rebounding off the head your foot is already set to launch the next stroke.

With heel-up it is very easy to use the weight of your leg to add mass to the stroke and create a very powerful stroke, however, that also means having to lift your entire leg for each stroke. Naturally you realize that you can move your ankle much faster than you can move the whole leg. Playing from the ankle for speed with a heel-up technique means holding up your leg and letting the foot pivot at the ankle like a pendulum creating the stroke, this is working against the natural strengths of the muscles. It can be initially easier to develop some speed with this technique, however in the long run it is a much more efficient technique for using the whole leg to really kick the beater into the bass drum head for big powerful beats,

Steve Gadd has mentioned using a "heel-toe" rocking motion to create a type of bass drum "double stroke" for very fast bass drum parts.