The bass drum is a magnificent instrument that is however often disparaged by non-percussionists since it appears to be simple to play and is sometimes classed as a sub instrument, similar to the spoons or something.
I'm here to inform you that the Bass Drum, like the spoons, is a great musical instrument, and it's one of the most essential instruments in the percussion family. A well-played bass drum in a well-written piece of music is fantastic, and the bass drum player should do all in his or her power to make the bass drum sound as nice as possible.
The bass drum is a big round drum that, due to its basic roots, is simple to play incorrectly. If all you do is smash it, it's simple to play, but if you truly want to play music, there's a lot to consider and a lot of practice on the part of the player to make it sound its best.
To sound its best, the bass drum must be in perfect condition. The heads must be free of holes and dents, and the drum must be well tuned.
What Is the Best Way to Tune a Bass Drum?
Fortunately, most bass drums will stay in tune without requiring too much maintenance. Of course, if we're talking about a drum with synthetic heads, this is the case. If you have a bass drum with actual calf skin heads, you'll have to spend a lot more time on a regular basis adjusting the drum. But, for the time being, let's simply focus on drums with plastic heads, which are the most popular.
Reduce the pitch of both bass drum heads to the lowest possible. Tighten the head by twisting each lug one turn at a time in a chris cross pattern on the bass drum, thus tighten at 12 then 6; 3 then 9, and so on. The drum head should only be as tight as it has to be in order to eliminate any creases.
The drum is then tightened one or two additional revolutions on each lug. To make your drum sound deep and resonant, tighten it up to that point.
You don't want it to sound flabby, and you don't want it to sound like the timpani, which has a distinct note.
Since there are two heads you should tighten the side that you don’t play on a smidgen higher than the side that you do play on.
Bass Drum Heads
Calf skin heads are subject to the weather and air conditioning, you should take extra care of them if your drum contains them. If the weather is particularly dry where you live, you may need to dampen the head to obtain a low enough note on the drum.
However, don't use too much water. If you make the drum excessively wet, it will no longer sound like a drum and instead resemble playing on a wet piece of toilet paper rather than a musical instrument.
To avoid overdoing it, use a mist bottle or a wet sponge to apply a small amount of water to the head at a time. If your head is excessively wet, either because you used too much water or because it is really humid, you will need to carefully dry it with a lamp or even a hair dryer.
Playing the Bass Drum: Finally, Let’s Get to How to Play Bass Drum!
Always play musically!
That is the general guideline to follow with any instrument, but especially with the bass drum. You'll sound like a caveman in a prehistoric parade if you don't, and no one wants to hear that.
The bass drum should be played just off the center of the drum for general playing.
You need some tone, but you also need a brief sound. Your stroke is created by the movement of your elbow and wrist. You need some weight behind the stick, and your wrist isn't going to cut it.
The bass drum has to be muffled since it sounds too boomy and lacks rhythmic clarity. I find it easiest to muffle the bass drum by placing my foot on a low chair, stool, or the bottom of a snare drum stand, and resting my right knee against the head directly below the center of the drum.
When I strike the drum, I can change the amount of dampening by having it impact the head fully, only slightly, or not at all, and then defining the duration of the note that I'm playing by touching the drum with my knee after the strike.
Because the bass drum has two heads, you'll need to do something to muffle the other one. I play with my left hand on that head, and I can control the amount of ringing by how much or how little I touch it.
If you don't want to use your knee, a towel in your left hand or a sheepskin glove, as some people do, can be utilized to muffle the playing head.
Since your knee won't operate on a slanted or flat drum, you'll need to use a towel. If the opposite head is always ringing, you may need to tape a muffler to that head to make the sound stop when you want it to.
Playing Music with the Bass Drum
Always play musically, as I've previously stated. The bass drum section of a basic march is generally just a continuous boom boom boom boom on all four beats of the bar, but as a musician, you can accomplish a lot with this simple rhythm.
You should pay close attention to the rest of the band with whom you're performing and sing along with them so that your booms match the melodic line and phrasing of the rest of the band.
You will always be known as a fantastic musician if you take bass drumming seriously.