Single vs. Double

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Today’s topic is sure to generate some controversy and hopefully instigate some dialogue. (In fact that is the entire point of this post so please feel free to comment.) I would like to discuss single vs. double bass pedals. Nowadays it seems like everyone has a double bass pedal. No matter what genre of music they play the double bass pedal has become the standard. This factor has peaked my interest as I am curious as to when and why this piece of equipment became a necessity.

Back in the day double bass drums were immensely popular in the hard rock and heavy metal scene. This enabled drummers to hang more toms and play more dynamic foot patterns. The death metal and hardcore drummers still use them today and have raised the bar to an almost unobtainable speed. Most other drummers playing in a variety of styles have incorporated the double bass pedal in place of double bass drums. This enables them to save space and maintain smaller, more reasonable kits.

I have come to believe that far too many drummers are dependent on the double bass pedal. For example, last year I was privileged to be a judge at the local Guitar Center’s Drum Off. One thing that I noticed is that all of the contestants brought their own double bass pedals and every one of them used them throughout their solo. Now within the confines of a contest that is looking for chops this is completely understandable. However, I would have liked to have seen some interesting single bass work mixed in. I was very fair with my critiques and did not hold my own preferences against any of the contestants. In fact, I was quite impressed by the majority of participants and made a point to let them know.

In all fairness I am obviously biased as I use a single bass pedal and a four piece, two cymbal drum kit. I pride myself on my bass drum foot but tend to be too heavy handed (or should I say footed) from time to time. For me it’s all about simplicity and a use it or lose it philosophy. I still struggle at times with maintaining speed but for a pocket player myself it’s all about the groove. Therefore I am able to accomplish my intentions with a single bass pedal 90% of the time. The other10% I fake it. I have no problems with playing doubles or triplets or quads. I feel comfortable playing four-way independence with my hi-hat keeping time. Most of all I don’t feel pressured by having double bass pedals because I would feel obligated to use them. This also goes for extraneous drums and cymbals.

So the questions that I am posing are:

  • Why do you use a double bass pedal?
  • Why is it such an intricate part of today’s drum kit?
  • Do you ever use a single bass pedal?
  • What are the advantages of a double bass pedal?
  • Are there any disadvantages?
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1 Comment

Filed under Drums and Drumming

One response to “Single vs. Double

  1. Sonny Fuchs

    Hi Mike, Sonny here. This really strikes a chord with me (excuse the music pun). I was “brought up” on a single pedal. In my formative drumming years, I had a single kick drum and a single pedal. And had to learn all of John Bonham’s kick beats. So I developed a fairly quick right foot. Then in the late 80’s I “graduated” to a double-kick drum setup for the metal of that era. I was woefully inadequate with my left foot, and probably still am today. But I got to a point where it was workable. I still to this day prefer to play single pedal even though I use a dual pedal setup. I feel like I’m at a disadvantage these days compared to younger drummers who’ve always played the double pedal and, frankly, are much better at it than I am. I feel that while the double pedal provides more options for low-end rolls, triplets, and quadruplets, being somewhat of a “purist” I also feel it’s a bit “lazy” as the right foot doesn’t have to work as hard.
    And from an equipment standpoint, I’ve never found a double pedal that I’m really comfortable with. I currently use a Tama Iron Cobra, but I’m sure everyone has their preference. And frankly, fitting the second pedal between my high hat pedal and my snare has always been a bit of a challenge, since I like my hats close to my snare. Many times I’ve considered getting rid of the double pedal and just using one.

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