Developing Double Bass Blast Beats

Our previous two lessons covered single bass drum blast beats. In this third and final part of our series, we take blast beats to the next level by adding double bass drums (or a single bass drum with a double pedal). If you haven’t already perfected single bass blast beats, I suggest you check out video lesson #9 and #10. They will make playing the double bass version that follows much easier to master. If you’re ready to tackle some double bass blast beats, read on.

If you can easily play a single stroke roll with your feet at speeds up to 800 beats per minute, then you’re ahead of the game. You can skip to the next paragraph. If you don’t quite have your feet up to speed, I suggest you work on them as follows. Set your metronome to a speed at which you can easily play single strokes using your feet. We’ll call this tempo your control speed. Mark it down in your practice notebook. As your technique develops, your control speed will increase. By keeping a record of it, you’ll be able to see your progress. Whether you prefer to play your bass drum pedals heel up or heel down, make sure that your feet, ankles, and legs remain relaxed at all times. I practice using both heel up and heel down because each technique builds a different set of muscles. If you feel your legs beginning to tense up while practicing singles strokes, slow the metronome setting down a notch and play at your new control speed. Regular practice of single strokes with your feet will build your leg muscles, which will allow you to gradually increase your speed, control, endurance, and power.

Once you are satisfied with the speed and control of single strokes with your feet, you can move on to the double bass blast beats shown in the written example and the video that follows.

Practice these exercises using each of the four drum keys shown below.

Metronome: Quarter note = 60 to 200

Drum Key 1
RC = Right stick on ride cymbal
SD = Left stick on snare
BD1 = Right foot on bass drum
BD2 = Left foot on bass drum

Alternate Drum Key 2
RC = Left stick on ride cymbal
SD = Right stick on snare
BD1 = Right foot on bass drum
BD2 = Left foot on bass drum

Alternate Drum Key 3
RC = Right stick on ride cymbal
SD = Left stick on snare
BD1 = Left foot on bass drum (or hi-hat, if you play single bass)
BD2 = Right foot on bass drum

Alternate Drum Key 4
RC = Left stick on ride cymbal
SD = Right stick on snare
BD1 = Left foot on bass drum (or hi-hat, if you play single bass)
BD2 = Right foot on bass drum

Use a metronome when practicing these exercises and repeat each exercise at least 40 times to build your endurance and control. Start at the slowest recommended tempo (60 bpm) and gradually increase the metronome tempo as your chops improve. Don’t try to play too fast too soon. Take your time and you will eventually be able to play at top speeds with no tension at all. To increase your cross body coordination, practice the exercises using the three alternate drum keys included. Exercise #1 is designed to help you develop the chops necessary to play Exercise #2, which is the actual double bass blast beat. Exercise #3 is an example of some double bass blast beat variations. Feel free to make up variations of your own and have fun. Once you comfortably reach the maximum recommended speed of 200 bpm, you’ll be among some of the fastest drummers in the world! But don’t settle for that. Keep practicing and you’ll find there is no end to the speed you can develop!

Although speed is a critical element to certain styles of drumming, an equally important skill to develop is the ability to play musically. Musical drummers are those who have learned to listen to the other musicians in the band. Listening allows you to develop a groove that fits with the rest of the music. By learning to play musically and developing your chops, you'll have the best of both worlds.

If you’re having trouble learning to play without tension, visit TensionFreeDrumming.com.

Until next time, have fun and stay loose!

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