I recently began a series of posts on the “controversial” (tongue-in-cheek) topic of kick drum technique, the first of which was about playing “heel up” strokes with the kick drum foot. Part 2 of my kick posts revolves around what you do with your kick pedal AFTER playing a stroke. This technique is directly linked to heel-up, so if you aren’t a heel-up guy then no need to read further.

In short, “burying the beater” means continuing to press the part of the kick pedal that touches the drumhead (the beater) into the drumhead after the stroke happens, instead of rebounding right away. This technique is the opposite of how one would hit a rack tom with a stick, where pressing the stick into the drumhead after the stroke would deaden the sustain of the stroke. It’s this “deadening” of the sustain of the kick drum that makes burying the beater an appealing technique. The tone of the kick is slightly different when burying the beater than when not, and most engineers (live and studio) prefer the “buried” tone. The pressure required to keep the beater pushed against the drumhead after a stroke is the reason burying the beater is so closely linked to the “heel-up” technique. Keeping the beater buried with heel down is quite a strain on the ankle, but the natural weight of the raised leg can easily keep the pedal in down position.

However, the REAL benefit from burying the beater is NOT a tone thing. In fact, I don’t really think the tone difference made by the technique is all that important. What matters to me is the way the spring on the pedal itself operates when I’m burying the beater. Here’s how it works…

– The beater, when buried into the kick head, leaves the pedal spring fully stretched and ready to fling back. If, while burying the beater, the foot is lifted suddenly off the pedal, then the taught spring will burst back not only to the natural stand-still position, but even FURTHER the other direction.

– The volume of your kick stroke is directly related to the velocity of the beater as it approaches the drum head. Additionally, the velocity of the beater is directly related to how large the distance is between the kick head and where the beater starts moving toward the kick head.

– The bottom line: I leave the beater buried into the drumhead until the last moment before I want to produce another stroke. Then, as I suddenly lift my foot to prepare for the stroke (heel-up style), the pedal flings back maybe 8 inches away from the kick head – instead of the 5-inch distance that the beater sits at while in a normal standstill position. This requires careful timing, but stomping on the pedal while it’s flung way back (from the released spring tension) means that I get a much more powerful kick stroke.

– Last thing: The pressure required to keep the beater pushed against the drumhead after a stroke is the reason burying the beater is so closely linked to the “heel-up” technique. Keeping the beater buried with heel down is quite a strain on the ankle, but the natural weight of the raised leg can easily keep the pedal in down position.

SUMMARY: Don’t be afraid of the tone that comes from burying the kick beater into the kick head. It brings a ton of additional power and tone. This is a somewhat wordy explanation, but if you’re grasping what I’m saying and you spend some time working with it you should see a much stronger kick stroke in your playing.

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