The ability of drummers to use both feet when executing Bass drum patterns has revolutionised drumming as we know it. Before the use of either two bass drums or a double bass drum pedal the drummer was limited in what they could accomplish with the one bass drum foot.
There have been many great talents that could play incredible things with the one bass drum but the rest of us mere mortals either had to put great effort and time into learning the technique or simply accept that certain Bass drum patterns would never be accomplished.
The use of the double Bass drum, invented by the great Jazz Drummer Louie Bellson, has meant that the average drummer is now able to play patterns with the feet that they could never have hoped to have accomplished without.
The use of the double Bass drum is not just limited to Metal as most would believe. There are many artists that are able to tastefully utilise the Bass drums in all genres of music, even Jazz! The patterns you learn for the double Bass drum might not fit into every piece of music you’re playing but will start to open your ears to the possibilities.
This drum lesson will be introducing you to some of the basic patterns that a double Bass drummer should be able to play. These patterns will build up your ability with the double Bass drum and will enable you to go on to execute more complicated patterns later. Think of these exercises as the foundations to build upon.
Double Bass drum patterns can be used in grooves or for drum fills. I personally like to use my double Bass drum pedal for embellishments (usually during drum fills). This lesson won’t be looking at double Bass drum fills as that’s a subject for another lesson. This lesson will be focusing on double Bass drum beats/grooves.
Grooving With The Double Bass Drum
All of the ideas in this lesson will involve playing a double Bass drum pattern with the feet while maintaining either an eighth or quarter note Hi-Hat pattern (ostinato) with the hands. These two basic Hi-Hat patterns are great places to start when trying to learn some kind of independence with the feet.
All of the examples include a solid Snare backbeat on Beats 2 and 4 of the bar. Eventually you would want to include various left hand Snare drum patterns as well ghost notes but when first learning the double Bass drum its best to keep things simple (ish).
When first learning the double Bass drum its best to use a standard “footing” pattern. The basic rule of thumb is that all upbeats are played with the left foot while all downbeats are played with the right. Once you become more established with the pedals you can start to use your own footings but I recommend using the suggested footings first.
If you always play a pattern starting with a certain foot because you’ve practised it that way then your body will start to execute that pattern automatically, without you having to think about it! This is the learning of muscle memory and it makes drumming a lot easier. Its for this reason that I recommend using the suggested footings written beneath each exercise.
Eighth And Sixteenths Note Patterns
The first four grooves are meant to help you get used to playing eighth and sixteenth note Bass drum patterns underneath the two basic Hi-Hat/Snare ostinatos.
Make sure that your weaker Bass drum foot plays at the same volume and uses the same technique as your leading Bass drum foot. All of these patterns should sound smooth and even on the Bass drum.
Double Bass Drum Groove 1 (Eighth Note Hi-Hat)
Both feet should lock in with the right hand on the Hi-Hat.
Double Bass Drum Groove 1 (Quarter Note Hi-Hat)
Double Bass Drum Groove 2 (Eighth Note Hi-Hat)
Notice how the right hand plays with the right Bass drum foot.
Double Bass Drum Groove 2 (Quarter Note Hi-Hat)
You will probably find this hard to play fast as the space left by the quarter note Hi-Hat pattern can be tricky to “feel”.
Syncopation With Two Note Sixteenth Patterns
This next set of exercises are going to help you to break up the sixteenth notes into common two note rhythmic patterns. Eventually you will be able to combine these rhythmic patterns to create all kinds of cool ideas.
Although you might be able to play these ideas using just the one Bass drum foot, it’s worth learning how to play them using two feet for later applications.
Double Bass Drum Groove 3 (Eighth Note Hi-Hat)
First two sixteenth notes within each Beat of the bar.
Double Bass Drum Groove 3 (Quarter Note Hi-Hat)
Double Bass Drum Groove 4 (Eighth Note Hi-Hat)
The second and third sixteenth notes within each Beat of the bar.
Double Bass Drum Groove 4 (Quarter Note Hi-Hat)
Double Bass Drum Groove 5 (Eighth Note Hi-Hat)
The third and fourth sixteenth notes within each Beat of the bar.
Double Bass Drum Groove 5 (Quarter Note Hi-Hat)
Double Bass Drum Groove 6 (Eighth Note Hi-Hat)
The first and fourth sixteenth notes within each Beat of the bar.
Double Bass Drum Groove 6 (Quarter Note Hi-Hat)
Syncopation With Three Note Sixteenth Patterns
Playing three Bass drum notes or more, in a row, is really where the double Bass drum becomes useful and even essential. The previous two note section, as already explained, could have been played with the single pedal if you’re technique is up to scratch. The next section will look at three sixteenth notes and where, within the beat, they can be placed.
Just like the previous section, there are four permutations possible for three sixteenth notes within each Beat of the bar.
Double Bass Drum Groove 7 (Eighth Note Hi-Hat)
The first, second and third sixteenth note of each beat.
Double Bass Drum Groove 7 (Quarter Note Hi-Hat)
Double Bass Drum Groove 8 (Eighth Note Hi-Hat)
The second, third and fourth sixteenth note of each beat.
Double Bass Drum Groove 8 (Quarter Note Hi-Hat)
Double Bass Drum Groove 9 (Eighth Note Hi-Hat)
The first, third and fourth sixteenth note of each beat.
Double Bass Drum Groove 9 (Quarter Note Hi-Hat)
Double Bass Drum Groove 10 (Eighth Note Hi-Hat)
The first, second and fourth sixteenth note of each beat.
Double Bass Drum Groove 10 (Quarter Note Hi-Hat)
Eighth Note Triplet Patterns
As a drummer, you will also want to be able to play other subdivisions with the Bass drums. This next section will look at eighth note triplets.
Each Beat of the bar can contain three evenly spaced triplet notes. The eighth note Hi-Hat pattern does not quite line up with the triplet notes as each eighth note upbeat (the “+” on the Hi-Hat) falls in between the second and third partial of the triplets.
Here is a bar of triplets on the Bass drum with the eighth note Hi-Hat pattern over the top…
Double Bass Drum Groove 11 (Eighth Note Hi-Hat)
As you can see, the Bass drum and Hi-Hat do not line up. Its for this reason that the rest of the eighth note triplet exercises will only be shown with the quarter note right hand pattern. It is possible to play the grooves with the eighth note Hi-Hat pattern but it requires a solid technique and a very good ear for subdivision alignment. Its simply easier to leave the eight note Hi-Hat patterns for another time. They might not even be required as its very rare for eighth notes and eighth note triplets to be played together…its kind of an unwritten rule that these two subdivisions should never be played together unless a specific effect is required.
You can have a go at playing this groove but don’t worry if you can’t pull it off correctly.
Double Bass Drum Groove 11 (Quarter Note Hi-Hat)
When using the quarter note Hi-Hat pattern there are no issues with alignment.
Syncopation With Eighth Note Triplet Patterns
The next step is to break up the triplets into groups of two. There are three possible permutations when the triplet is split into two adjacent notes.
Double Bass Drum Groove 12
The first two triplet notes.
Double Bass Drum Groove 13
Second and third triplet notes. This is a great sounding idea and has many cool uses within drum fills as will be shown in later lessons.
Double Bass Drum Groove 14
The first and third triplet note creates a rhythm know as the “shuffle”. This double Bass drum shuffle pattern is a favourite amongst double Bass drummers and you can hear it being used in many Metal/Rock songs such as “Hot For Teacher” by Van Halen for example.
This Bass drum pattern also offers a great foundation to solo over the top of with the hands.
Sixteenth Note Triplet Patterns
The next subdivision to get to grips with is sixteenth note triplets. Unlike eighth note triplets, sixteenth note triplets DO line up with the eighth note Hi-Hat pattern so they have been included in the next section.
This is where the double Bass drum really comes into its own, it simply would not be possible to execute these patterns, at any useful tempo, without the aid of both feet. This also means that there are a lot of Bass drum notes occurring so make sure to count carefully and keep a steady tempo when practicing.
Double Bass Drum Groove 15 (Eighth Note Hi-Hat)
Notice how the right hand lines up with the fourth triplet Bass drum note. Make sure the Hi-Hat pattern is played evenly and steady. The Bass drums should not cause the Hi-Hat to speed up or slow down.
Double Bass Drum Groove 15 (Quarter Note Hi-Hat)
Syncopation With Sixteenth Note Triplet Patterns
OK, the same ideas apply to sixteenth note triplets when learning how to break up the subdivision into useful chunks.
To start off with we only want to focus on splitting the triplets up into half beat blocks. The syncopation would get too complicated at this stage if we started to play groups of two and fives for example.
The next set of ideas involve either starting a chunk of sixteenth note triplets on the downbeat or on the upbeat of the bar. These groove ideas are a great place to start when trying to get used to sixteenth note triplets on the Bass drum.
Take note of which foot starts each pattern as we really want the right foot to line up with the downbeat.
Double Bass Drum Groove 16 (Eighth Note Hi-Hat)
Starting a group of four sixteenth triplets on the downbeat so that they resolve on the upbeat.
Double Bass Drum Groove 16 (Quarter Note Hi-Hat)
Double Bass Drum Groove 17 (Eighth Note Hi-Hat)
Starting a group of four sixteenth triplets on the upbeat so that they resolve on the downbeat.
Double Bass Drum Groove 17 (Quarter Note Hi-Hat)
Thirty Second Note Patterns
And finally we’re going to look at playing thirty second notes on the Bass drum. These patterns are obviously going to be harder to play at fast tempos because of the sheer density of notes.
In order to play these grooves at a faster tempo your double Bass drum technique needs to be relaxed and confident. Start off slowly and don’t worry about your top speed yet, if you practice these regularly then the speed will come naturally. You must stay relaxed though as the Bass drum strokes can’t be forced out.
Double Bass Drum Groove 18 (Eighth Note Hi-Hat)
Double Bass Drum Groove 18 (Quarter Note Hi-Hat)
Syncopation With Thirty Second Note Patterns
Again, to keep things simple, the thirty second notes have been split into groups that either start on the downbeat or the upbeat of the bar.
Double Bass Drum Groove 19 (Eighth Note Hi-Hat)
Double Bass Drum Groove 19 (Quarter Note Hi-Hat)
Double Bass Drum Groove 20 (Eighth Note Hi-Hat)
Double Bass Drum Groove 20 (Quarter Note Hi-Hat)
This lesson has given you the basic building blocks required to create double Bass drum grooves and fills. We can combine the ideas found in this lesson to create the majority of patterns heard being used in double Bass drum grooves.
If you focus on getting these ideas feeling comfortable and rhythmically accurate (using a metronome) then you’re on your way. In later lessons we will be taking these ideas further by building up the complexity of the patterns so make sure you can play these first.
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