When Is Playing Heel-Down Optimal?

“When is playing heel-down optimal?”

todd sucherman

Todd Sucherman

Age 43
Years playing 41
Band Styx
“The ability to play heel-down would help with softer volumes or slower tempos, or feathering the bass drum for quarter-note swing-time feels. It can only help you in the long run to have heel-down, heel-parallel, and heel-up techniques in your arsenal.”

chad smith

Chad Smith

Age 50
Years playing 39
Band Red Hot Chili Peppers
“For power, heel up is the way to go. That said, Buddy Rich was a heel-down man and he wasn’t too shabby. Whatever works, I say.”

trevor lawrence

Trevor Lawrence Jr.

Age 38
Years playing 35
Band Herbie Hancock, Alicia Keys
“If you sit a certain way and heel down is comfortable, then by all means play that way. Fanning the bass drum can incorporate that technique as well, which I do sometimes when I’m playing jazz.”

thomas pridgen

Thomas Pridgen

Age 28
Years playing 25
Bands The Memorials, ex—The Mars Volta
“I usually play both heel down and heel up depending on what I’m actually playing, and the heel down approach is awesome when I’m just slamming on the bass drum on heavier parts. I think drummers forget how many different tones you can get out of a bass drum just trying out different techniques.”

tony palermo

Tony Palermo

Age 42
Years playing 31
Band Papa Roach
“When I strike my kick drum it’s with a rock and roll intent. To achieve this power I have learned to keep my heel up and use more leg in conjunction with a foot burst, all within the same hit. That being said, I don’t want to discourage the use of dynamics because I do appreciate the finesse of a heel-down jazz drummer and we all know sometimes a lighter touch is called for.”