How to Play the Bass Drum with a Cymbal Attached

Sometimes because your don’t have enough players or because the part is written this way the bass drum player has to be able to play cymbals also. This is called playing bass drum with cymbal attached.

There are a few commercial cymbal attachments available on the market that work very well with the best one being the Cymbelt by Frank Epstein and Steve Weiss Music sells a similar version to this. All cymbal attachments work in the same way by clamping a cymbal holder to the bass drum so that a crash cymbal may be mounted upside down on top of the bass drum which allows the player to play against while holding another crash cymbal in their hand.

Watch this short video on playing Bass Drum with Cymbal Attached

Set the cymbal on the drum so that you can reach it comfortably. Depending on the size of your bass drum you’ll have the cymbal on a 45 degree angle or on the very top if your bass drum is smaller.

Dampening the Bass Drum

Dampening can be a problem because you’ll have your hands full with a bass drum beater in one hand and a cymbal in the other. Since there are two sides to a bass drum it’s going to be difficult to silence the resonant head if you have to be really quick about making everything silent.

Take a big clip like the one in the video and clamp a small towel to the rim of the resonant head so that the towel lightly touches the head. This will eliminate unwanted over ringing, but still allow the drum to resonate well and sound good when you play.

To dampen quickly you use your knee and grab the cymbal with your right hand while holding the other cymbal to your chest. The towel on the resonant head will do its job for you.

Mix and Match Your Cymbals

There are no rules that say that both of your crash cymbals must be the same size. You can certainly use two matching cymbals; one on the drum and one in your hand, but if you happen to be playing a very long piece of music you might want to consider using a smaller and lighter size cymbal in your hand to play against the larger one on the drum. It is easier to play softer cymbals by using a smaller cymbal in this manner so if the conductor is asking for less cymbal sound try this idea.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with your cymbals to get the sound that you like. Using an 18” cymbal on the drum and 15” cymbal in your hand can be a very good way to play light and softly if the piece you are playing requires such a sound.

  • Mount the cymbal so it is comfortably placed on the drum and easy to reach
  • Dampen the resonant head by clamping a small towel to the rim
  • Use your knee to dampen the batter head
  • Don’t be afraid of using different sizes of cymbals

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