Making sure your bass drum is in the optimal position is vital because it affects how the beater strikes it and how the drum sounds. In this article, I’ll explain everything you need to know about angling and raising your kick drum off the floor.
The Quick Answer
The front of the bass drum should be raised by approximately 1/4″ to 1/2″ using the spurs to ensure it is not resting on the floor. This will improve the resonance and prevent the kick drum sliding away. The front of the drum should not be raised any higher otherwise it will place the hoop under stress.
Why Should the Bass Drum be Raised?
There are two reasons why it’s a good idea to slightly raise the bass drum at the front:
- It gets the front of the drum off the ground to increase the resonance
- It prevents the drum from sliding
Let’s take a look at these two reasons in a little more detail.
Raising the Drum Increases the Resonance
If the bass drum is not raised and is left resting on the floor then the drum will not be allowed to resonate more freely.
A drum that has low resonance may sound good when you’re sat down playing, but to everyone else who is stood further away from the kit, most of the boom and sustain is lost. This lack of resonance is often described as sounding “choked”.
Resonant drums on the other hand sound louder and fuller at a distance as well. Raising the drum off the ground allows it to move and vibrate more freely without feeling restricted which increases its resonance.
It Prevents the Drum from Sliding
Another notable advantage of raising the drum up compared to having it resting on the ground is that is stops it sliding away. This can be very annoying and is a particular problem if you are playing on a slippy surface.
When the drum is resting on the ground it is more likely to slide away as it is hit with the beater repeatedly. This is because the bottom of the drum doesn’t offer much friction to stop it from moving.
When raising the drum, the bottom of it is no longer in contact with the floor. Instead, the main contact points between the floor and the drum as the spurs. Since these spurs have a small surface area, the pressure that is put through them is greater and helps to keep the drum stabilised and stop it from moving.
Think about if you were to try and push a nail into a piece of wood. If you are using the same force to push it into the wood, a smaller nail will go in more easily because the pressure is concentrated into a smaller point. It’s a similar principle here.
Angled vs Flat Bass Drum
There is a bit of a debate in the drumming scene as to whether the drum should be raised so it is completely flat or tilted upwards at the front.
If the drum is only raised off the floor slightly using the spurs, then the batter head and the resonant head will be at the same height. This is because the batter head side is already slightly raised because the pedal clamp sits underneath it.
If you raise the front up any more, then the resonant head will be higher compared to the batter head.
The main reason why you may want to raise the resonant head higher than the batter head is to try and get the beater to hit the drum at a 90 degree angle so it is flush when it strikes the head. Many drummers will argue that this sounds and feels better.
If the drum is parallel to the ground then the beater will usually hit the head at an angle which is over 90 degrees.
However, the disadvantage of having the drum tilted upwards at the front is that it can put the hoop under too much pressure causing it to distort. This can knock the drum head out of tune and raises the pitch of the bass drum.
This is why plenty of drummers prefer to have their drums parallel to the ground instead of tilted upwards at the front.
To counteract the issue of having the beater drum angle at above 90 degrees, you can get a beater with an adjustable angle so you get get it to hit the head perfectly, but without angling the front of your kick drum upwards.
How Much Should You Raise the Bass Drum?
It is recommended to raise the bass drum using the spurs so that the batter head and resonant head are in line with each other and both the same distance from the floor. In most cases this involves raising the front of the drum by approximately 1/4″ to 1/2″ (0.64 cm to 1.27 cm).
You just want to try and raise the spurs enough so that the front of the drum is raised just off the floor, but not any higher.
This prevents the hoop being placed under unnecessary stress but still means that the bass drum is lifted off the ground which will improve the resonance and prevent the drum sliding away.
Check out this article to learn about the ideal bass pedal placement and beater angle.