I have been playing for 18 years now and the one thing I have found in all of those years is that foot wear is just as important as picking out the right pair of sticks. So I am going to go in depth into drumming foot wear and how it can affect your playing.
Over the years I think that I have played in just about anything you could ever sit down behind the kit and play in. These are some of the things that I found about all of them.
Yes, there are a lot of drummers out there that play in cowboy boots and I have tried it. What I found through playing in them is that if you are trying to play a bass rhythm that is even remotely complicated and fast, there is a good chace that you are not going to pull it off. Your typical cowboy boot has a slick bottom on it and your foot will tend to wander around the pedal. The cowboy boot also lacks in bendability.
These are almost like the cowboy boots in the bendability aspect but they have a better grip on the pedals. It would be good to wear them to build up those muscles in the feet to increase speed but otherwise I could never find a practical application for them.
Here are some shoes that I see a lot of drummers wearing these days and I have played drums many times wearing these skate shoes. I think that they can be great shoes for drumming but they are lack bendablity and lightness which are essentials for drumming shoes. I've found that when I would play in these shoes for a long duration of time, my feet would end up hurting. The shoes can be restricting on the feet and do not let them move as fast as they could. The other thing that I found about them is that even if they get a little water on the soles, they get very slick and have a tendency to slip on the pedals.
Sneakers (tennis, running, basketball)
We have all played in shoes that fits into this catagory. There are some pros and cons with playing drums in sneakers. Running shoes will give you the grip that you are looking for, but some are limited in their bendability. Basketball shoes are almost as bad as a boot. The high tops are big and bulky and restrict ankle movement.
These fall into a tennis shoe category but I am going to call them thin shoes. Thin shoes are shoes that are low top and very flexible. When you grab the toe of the shoe, you should be able to bend it back to about the middle of the shoe with almost no resistance from the material. These are the best type of shoes for playing drums in and almost any drum teacher is going to agree. Some of the ones that I have used include:
Adidas Sambas - there are some other models in this line that work just as well like the Gazel and other indoor soccer shoes.
Asics Onitsuka Tigers - I recently got these and they are about the next best thing to playing bare foot. They have the flexability and lightness that you would want out of shoes for drums.
Other brands that I have not tried and would fall into this category are Puma and Reebok. These shoes are remakes of the ones that were produced back in the late 70's and early 80's. They are the type of thin shoes that I am talking about.
Barefoot should give you everything you want in playing as far as speed and control are concerned. However, there is always the one down fall that your feet will sweat cause them to slip on the pedals.
The biggest thing about picking out what you wear on your feet is how they feel to you and how comfortable they are. Do you have the control that you need in your shoes? Try them on and make sure that they fit well and that your feet can breath in them. Move around in them and see if they flex with your feet and move evenly with your feet. Sit down and act like you are playing your drums or at least move your feet the way they would move on the pedals to see if they are what you are looking for.
I hope this guide will help anyone buying their shoes for drums. Remember that grip, control, speed, and flexability are the keys to good pedal technique and it can start with your shoes.
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