Not to be confused with the original Bass Drum Secrets DVD that is now out of print, Bass Drum Secrets 2.0 as it’s now called, is a specialized drum curriculum that focuses on learning to master bass drum technique.
The course is primarily video-based, with around 15 hours of lessons, over 1000 mp3 audio files, and accompanying sheet music. BDS members receive access to a private membership website with lifetime content updates, regular live lessons that are aired almost every week, as well as previously-recorded live lessons.
A significant strength of BDS is that they have three instructors doing the teaching, not just one. These instructors include Jared Falk, Sean Lang, and Dave Atkinson. Each instructor has their own unique approach to bass drumming, teaching style, and playing experience. Jared Falk is a studio drummer, Sean Lang has a knack for heavy-metal, and Dave Atkinson (drummer for the Canadian band, YUCA) especially impressed as a gifted instructor.
Something you should know upfront about Bass Drum Secrets is that it’s not for the raw beginner or the veteran drummer. Absolute beginners will first want to take advantage of other educational resources that teach basic drumming skills and general drumming theory before they get into BDS.
One aspect of BDS that makes it somewhat unique is that you can’t order it as a DVD course; instead, it’s available only in the online format. This approach is gaining traction in the online learning markets, as it better facilitates student/teacher relationships, makes adding new content easy, and allows students to view course material from almost anywhere (even from a mobile device or tablet). The downside is that students need a consistent hi-speed internet connection to access their video lessons from within the membership area.
BDS is organized into 20 “modules”, which are further broken down into individual video lessons. The course was designed to be followed sequentially, though many lessons have links to other related lessons and topics.
Unlike many other courses we’ve reviewed, it’s easy to jump in right away, without having to tediously download the lesson material beforehand.
We’ve always found that Railroad Media products have good production values, and BDS is no exception. When we’re talking production values, we mean high quality video, multiple camera views, split screens, and slow motion video to better demonstrate quick movements on the pedals.
The entire course’s video content runs at almost 20 hours long. However, since a few of the longer lessons are presented both in their entirety and in segments (which is nice for those with slower internet speeds), and since some of the bonus content is not exactly high on educational value, the true length of the course actually clocks in at around 15 hours, which is still a good length for a specialized course on this topic. The 15 hours doesn’t include the live lessons that are archived on the site every week.
Exercises are demonstrated at two speeds with live on-screen notation. Included with each exercise are the accompanying mp3 files and pdf sheet music which can both be downloaded to your computer. All mp3 and pdf files are clearly labeled and organized.
As for the actual content of the course, here’s a brief summary:
The first lessons give the lowdown on what kind of drum pedals and beaters to get. You’ll learn setup tips, how to tinker with different pedal setting and how to make other adjustments. Moving on, you’ll learn bass drum independence by working through a combination of foot and hand patterns to enable your feet and hands to work independently of each other. You’ll then learn several bass petal techniques including the heel-toe technique, the slide technique and how to play double pedal single stroke, beats and fills. Other modules cover blasts, rudiments, hertas, and how to create your own hand-feet combos.
While it’s true that not much of the Bass Drum Secrets course is truly “secret” or “insider knowledge”, it still has to be at the top of the short list of bass drumming courses.
Modules 15-17 are a lot of fun as that’s when the play-along lessons make their appearance. All three instructors demonstrate techniques while playing a variety of original songs (many from their own bands). Several of the tracks are played by all three instructors, which allows you to see how to integrate different playing styles on the same song, but it would have been nice if they had added more variety. Another problem is that there was no sheet music available for the play-along lessons which is too bad for the drummers who aren’t yet comfortable playing by ear. On the plus side, the jam tracks are super high quality and were recorded with a real band.
Module 18 is a collection of slo-motion footage that takes a closer look at some of the techniques that are a little hard to pick up at full speed. Finally, the last couple modules focus on drumming gear and bonus features.
There are a few small issues and organizational errors in the course, which isn’t uncommon for a course this size. For instance, some sheet music pdfs are missing some of the exercises, a few mp3s are omitted or duplicated, a couple videos have some obvious editing snafus, and some resources just weren’t there when we looked for them. While a lifetime membership is great in theory, we’re just not sure how good they are at updating their videos and lesson content or fixing errors that we noticed while going through the course. Since it’s a relatively new course, we’ll cut some slack, but it would be great to see a better response time in getting the issues fixed.
The creators of Bass Drum Secrets made it super-easy to reach them with both international and North American phone numbers posted on their website, and we can attest to their prompt customer service.
In regards to lesson support, we noticed that at least one of the instructors will occasionally chip in with a reply on lesson comments, though it would be nice if there was more interaction there.
The live lessons are a great support option as it’s the perfect format to getting your drum questions answered and to connect with the instructors. They have a live lesson schedule posted on the site (they run almost every week), or you can follow them on Facebook to be notified when live lessons are about to start. If you just can’t get enough, you can even lookup past live lessons in the membership area’s archive section. Each live lesson runs about an hour. Jared Falk takes member support to the next level and tries to personally reply to email questions he gets sent and (while while we haven’t tried it) encourages members to send him video lessons which he can analyze and provide feedback on.
Please note that when this review was originally written, BDS had a limited membership of 1200 spots which had already filled up and no new applications were being accepted. However, you can sign up for notifications on their website for when new spots are opened.
Ordering can be done online or over the phone. Payment plans are available, and Railroad Media accepts all major credit cards as well as the popular online payment option, PayPal (though not an option for payment plans).
Yet another reason to give BDS a serious look is their solid, 90-day money back guarantee. If you buy the course and benefit from it, great! If not, you won’t be short in your wallet. You do have to send an email or make a phone call to claim the refund.
When people hear the words “Secret” in a product name, it can raise eyebrows, and usually for good reason, as it’s usually just a marketing thing. While it’s true that not much of the Bass Drum Secrets course is truly “secret” or “insider knowledge”, it still has to be at the top of the short list of bass drumming courses. Anyone wanting to boost their bass drumming abilities will find Bass Drum Secrets an invaluable tool.
In terms of value, BDS is almost worth it just for the ability to be able to ask questions, obtain feedback, and get help from knowledgeable drumming instructors as you need it.
If the course content interests you, but you want more info, the folks at BDS put together a pretty good video tour of their membership site that explains in more detail what’s covered in the course and gives a preview of the member’s area.Official Bass Drum Secrets Website
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Publisher: Railroad Media
Best Price: $147
Suitable For: Mid-Level Beginners - IntermediatesWebsite Compare
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