The Best Bass Drum Beaters for YOUR FIRST GIG EVER
This article will feature expert tips and advice to help you choose the right bass drum beater for your debut performance.
Every drummer remembers their first gig. Maybe it was at a school, a place of worship or a backyard barbeque. Whether you’re a young person taking lessons or an adult discovering the unbridled joy and possibilities of becoming a musician later in life, playing your first show in front of a live audience can be wonderfully exhilarating, but also a little terrifying.
Being prepared is the key to making your first show a rousing success, and showing up with the right gear will get you off to a strong start before you even play a note. This article will feature expert tips and advice to help you choose the right bass drum beater for your debut performance.
Drum teacher Matt Dudley is uniquely qualified to dole out this advice, since he teaches over 30 private students each week at his drumming academy in Whiteville, North Carolina. His specialty is beginner students, including children as young as 5, teenagers and adults. He feels that playing with good technique is an important first step to having success onstage.
Drum teacher Matt Dudley with a student
“My approach with the foot is the same as with the hands. I normally start kids off with the ‘heel down’ technique and try to get them to keep their foot on the pedal. That bass drum beater has to make an impact and come back a few inches so you’re prepared for your next strike. It’s important to keep that foot where you can get a nice rebound off the hit. It’s just like dribbling a basketball. I spend so much time each week talking about rebound and it’s on repeat every lesson. As far as the type of beater, normally everyone starts with felt and that’s the standard.”
Dudley does think that students who are interested in different styles of music could also try out the Low Boy Leather Daddy or Standard wood options. “Let’s say a kid is looking to play metal. In that case, I’m gonna point them toward something with more power and attack. With the Low Boy, you have that flat surface which has so much slap and impact.”
This chart offers a starting point for drummers who want to match their bass drum beater with a specific style of music.
While Dudley feels that the 95-gram Standard weight beaters are best for most students, he also sees the 80-gram Lightweight beaters as another good option depending on the circumstances. “You could use that lightweight felt beater and feather the bass drum [which means to play it lightly]. But I usually would recommend a heavier beater to start. Most kids kick pretty hard, so if you need a little bit more volume you’ve got more mass behind that standard beater. And then they can lay off a little bit and not play as hard to get a lower volume.”
Dudley thinks that playing with good dynamics and foot control is the key to getting a good sound regardless of your age. “I would treat a beginner adult student the same as a child. I think about it from a pro approach and say ‘this is what needs to happen for you to get the job done.’ The only difference would be how much control the adult has with their foot versus the child. That would be the difference between choosing a standard or lightweight beater. ‘Do you have a heavy foot? Are you gonna kick like a mule on these things?’ I have got some kids who play super-light and I have to beg them to kick.”
“Teacher’s Pet” from the film School of Rock
The main takeaway is that the Standard Felt Daddy beater is usually the best choice for students who are just beginning their musical journey. Adding a custom accessory to an entry-level drumkit is also an affordable way make it feel special while improving your sound onstage.
Dudley concludes with one more valuable piece of advice for YOUR FIRST GIG EVER. “I would just say it’s better to start off quietly and play lightly than it is to be too loud. Depending on what situation you’re in, you can always come up. That’s always better than being told ‘you’re too loud, bring it back down.’ Let’s not get fired on the first Christmas gig!”
Click here for more information on the Matt Dudley Drumming Academy.
Are You Ready To Gear Up For Your First Gig?
By Rob Mitzner
New York-based session drummer and writer Rob Mitzner has played on Billboard Top-10 charting albums, films, and Broadway shows, performing at Lincoln Center, The Smithsonian, Caesar’s Palace, The Blue Note, Boston Symphony Hall and for President Obama in his hometown of Washington D.C. His book "Drumming in a Band: Stuff You Can Use" was released by Hudson Music in early 2022 and recently entered the top 100 best-selling percussion books on Amazon. Rob has also been featured in Downbeat magazine, Modern Drummer, Drumeo and Drum Talk TV and recorded on over 60 commercially available albums across many genres. When he’s not playing and touring, Rob spends his days at C-Room Studio in Brooklyn cutting drum tracks, shedding funky electric bass and writing articles. Rob holds a B.A. in Music and Political Science from Brown University, and is a proud endorser of Paiste Cymbals, Remo Drumheads, Hendrix Drums and Drumdots.