Jason Bittner Double Bass Seminar
Double-bass technique requires a great deal of stamina, power, and dexterity, and the following exercises will demonstrate how you can develop these skills for your own double-kick playing. We’ll start with basic endurance exercises and gradually increase into more complex patterns. Please remember the two most important things when doing these exercises — start off slowly and use a metronome.
Basic Sixteenth-Note PatternsWhen I first started playing two bass drums, I was initially inspired by guys like Neil Peart and Ginger Baker, who were known for having two kicks but didn’t necessarily play them in a constant sixteenth-note rolling pattern. Later on, I became immersed in Metallica, Anthrax, and Slayer, and wanted to have a barrage of constant kick drums at my disposal. Mind you — this was the early ’80s and I was just coming out of my John Bonham, Clive Burr, and Nicko McBrain phase. My right foot was pretty solid, so my main challenge was to develop my left, which was far from solid. The following exercises got me started.
Ex. 1. Let’s start with a straight sixteenth-note double kick pattern without integrating your hands, just to get the feel of using both feet. We will play this two ways: RLRL RLRL RLRL RLRL and LRLR LRLR LRLR.
Ex. 2. Now we’ll incorporate basic hand patterns. Start with a RLRL pattern on kicks, the snare on 2 and 4, and the ride (or closed hat) on 1 &2 &3 &4 &. Play the bass drum pattern using right- and left-foot lead. Left-foot lead might be a little awkward at first — well, at least it was for me (and still is). If you take these patterns and practice them over and over for extended time periods with a metronome, your endurance and stamina will improve greatly.
Exs. 3—13. After you become comfortable with Exs. 1 and 2, we’ll add another level of difficulty with 11 other ride patterns, ranging from straight quarter-notes to straight sixteenth-notes. Once you are able to play these comfortably and want to further challenge yourself, try Exs. 3—13 with these footings:
RRLL RRLL RRLL RRLL
LLRR LLRR LLRR LLRR
Basic Triplet Patterns
Now let’s look at eighth- and sixteenth-note triplet patterns. The main thing to point out here is to clearly separate the triplet pattern (1-2-3, 2-2-3, or trip-a-let, trip-a-let) from the previous straight sixteenth-note patterns (1 e & ah, 2 e & ah)
Ex. 14. Play the snare on the 2 and 4, ride on the 1, 2, 3, 4.
Ex. 15. Move the snare to 1 and 3.
Ex. 16. Move snare to 3 only.
Ex. 17. Play the straight triplet ride pattern over the hand/foot patterns of Exs. 14—16.