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First I am quite new to drums, like playing frequently for about a year.

But I am quite depressed with my own progress and I have many questions in my head, here's one of them:

I never learnt / tried to use double bass pedal, so I almost always want to push my limit (speed, stability, etc.) on my right foot on base drum.

But now when I play some songs with 160-180BPM, with some 16th notes on bass drum, my foot cannot keep it up. It is not even a continuous non-stop 16th bass drum groove, it's just some random two consecutive 16th notes which I supposed should be played using sliding / heel-toe technique.

However even with these technique, I still cannot play it stably under 160-180bpm, so I wonder: Is it normal, or is it just me lacking enough practice?

So I would like to know, is there a common upper bound speed (in BPM) for single foot on bass drum playing 16th note? Like, if beyond this bound, double-bass pedal must be used while when within this bound, you can reach it with enough practice?

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    I would give yourself around five years to get to a point where you feel like you're really playing the drums with enough skill to gig. Some get there faster, some take longer, and all of us know what it's like to feel like you've put in so much time and not gotten anywhere. If you can be more patient, and practice at least a little every day, you will reach a point where you can easily tell that you've learned a lot of drumming. At the same time, if you're like me, you'll never be fully satisfied and always learning, but there comes a point where it is more of a joy than a chore. – Todd Wilcox Oct 4 '17 at 11:25
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Working on single kick drum technique is akin to practicing your single strokes with one hand or a wind player practicing their single tonguing. At some point it's easier to bounce or double-tongue. The threshold you're asking about is actually the threshold you yourself described: 160-180bpm. This varies according to the individual but it is also a pretty reliable range for understanding how / when to transition between techniques.

Excellent drummers work on this transition so that it is so smooth, you cannot tell the difference between their single strokes / bounces; wind players do the same thing. When it comes to your kick drum, you must also do the same thing.

What to do:

  • Get a metronome
  • Start at 60 bpm (or as low as you need to, say, 40bpm) with quarters, then 8ths, then triplets, then 16ths, then triplets, then 8ths, then quarters, 1 measure each
  • Do this 4x
  • Now click up to 66
  • Repeat 4x
  • Now click down to 63
  • Repeat 4x
  • Now click up to 69
  • Repeat 4x
  • Now click down to 66
  • Repeat this process until you max out your personal speed
  • Now do this every day forever until you literally melt everyone's faces with your blast beats and impossibly intricate pedal work
  • Then start from the beginning and do it all over again
  • Is this in relation to a single pedalled or double pedalled bass drum? – Tim Oct 4 '17 at 13:25
  • @Tim Both - you can only master coordination at fast tempi by mastering coordination at slow tempi. Each foot individually; both feet together. – jjmusicnotes Oct 4 '17 at 15:11
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A few comments from someone who has been playing about five years but can't play 16ths on the kick at that speed...

  1. Double bass is a whole realm of technique on its own. Just as getting single stroke rolls with sticks to sound great at speed takes work, so too does double bass. Double bass practice does help footwork in general of course, but I'd view it more as an expansion of possibilities of the sound than simply as a way to play the kick faster. It is likely in the same realm of effort to learn as developing a fast double stroke with one foot.

  2. Syncopated kick exercises at slower speeds will likely also help develop speed. At least in as much as the issue is in thinking in terms of doubles, not just the mechanical technique. Kick heavy 16th note funk can sound great at much slower tempo and is wonderful foot practice. Patterns for sticks (e.g. Stick Control) can be done with the feet as drills. If you are getting frustrated playing fast, dropping down in tempo and playing something different or with more notes might be a way to get there.

  3. You are absolutely right to focus on playing tight while trying to get faster. Playing half the notes and sounding great is a better bet than sloppy and fast.

  4. It takes a long time. Probably a lot longer for some of us than others. I find looking back on my own progress is the best way to get perspective. One thing I like about drums is there are both quantitative measures like "I can play this at 140 now and six months ago it fell apart at 110" and very subjective ones like "I remember how stressed I was even beginning to play this a couple months back and now it grooves."

  5. Kind of a minor point and probably not much help, but I find the kick drum to be a bit more finicky than other drums in terms of good tuning helping me to play it well. Both due to the dynamics of the beater on the head and because the extreme bass notes are already a bit harder to place in time and if the drum sounds muddy, it is even harder. If the batter head is loose at all, try tightening it up.

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I used to do 16th notes pretty consistently on single right foot at about 100 bpm when after about 5 years of playing. On double peddle my left foot lagged and could only do consistent 80 bpm but I could snap a higher speed like 140 bpm with that laggy foot, just not consistent because a lot of music doesn't require that. I didn't do a lot to purposefully work up my speed. There are techniques that help you pull it off and I didn't know any then.

If you are playing extremely fast blast beats, consistent 120 bpm per foot on a double peddle is pretty fast, you could hit about 240 bpm, and if your hands can keep up to that, you are gold.

BTW I just started playing again after 15 years, and have degenerative neurological disorder. Can only do consistently for 2 min 16ths on single bass at 50 bpm. How is that for frustrating? I forgot how good drumming makes me feel. Even if I am terrible it hits the spot. Remember to have fun.

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