Are you in the early stages of becoming the world’s greatest drummer? Or are you going back to improve your basic technique? If so, one of the first ports of call is the basic technique of how to hold a stick.
There are two schools of stick holding. On is matched grip, with a number of variations. The second is the traditional grip, favored by classical musicians. Read on to find out our must-know guide on how to hold drum sticks.
How to Hold Drum Sticks With a Matched Grip
The matched grip is the standard for most drummers and is definitely the one you should begin with. It allows for a range of versatile hits and strokes, combined with optimum grip, whatever the gauge or quality of drumstick being used. If you are self-teaching drums, most instructional videos will be done using the matched grip, making it easier to follow and learn.
In matched grip, both sticks are held in exactly the same way, in a mirror image of each other. The stick is held in the palms, with fingers over the top and the thumb underneath the shaft for grip. It is also a great way to learn drums as you can use it for other percussion types away from the standard rock and pop music kit.
It is excellent for corrections, as you can view strong and weak points. This allows you to adjust your positioning on each hand, to compensate for any weaker ones. Movement should come from the wrist or the fingers, so you do not need to use your elbows or shoulders for movement at all.
This position is the optimum placement for any style of non-orthodox shots. These could include rim shots, strong hits, and single stick rolls. It will take the impact from your wrist, forearm, and elbow. The matching grip does have a number of variations.
The German grip is a slight variation on the traditional matched grip. It is primarily used in rock drumming and military-style parades, as it provides more control from the finger with a heavier hit. In the German grip, your stick is held with the thumb and index finger, your other fingers at the bottom of the stick, and the stick positioned at the balancing point in your hand.
To play effectively in this manner, you will need to stick out your elbows a little. Place the sticks on the snare, and make a 90-degree angle with the sticks. The position of the arms is how you should be playing with a German grip, giving you more control and power.
When hitting the snare, you should turn your wrists downward, as if you are attacking the kit with a flick of the wrist. The sticks should rebound, bouncing slightly. If not, adjust the position of your grip.
The American grip is almost identical to the German grip. However, the angles are slightly different, resulting in slightly different control and movement. It feels the most comfortable, making it a very popular way to learn the drums.
To play in this style, follow the German grip as described. However, you will now need to relax, lets your arms fall at your side while still holding the sticks at a 90-degree angle. This will mean your sticks come into the snare more than in the German grip, resulting in a sharper sound that hits the middle of the snare more than other shots.
The French grip is quite different from the other two methods. It is a little trickier, meaning it has fallen out of favor in pop and rock circles. However, it lets you have increased dexterity and control, at the expense of a little grip.
Find the balance point of your sticks and hold them in your fingers. Your palms should be open and face inward, toward each other. The thumb grips the stick on the top, and the other fingers hold the opposite side.
Once you have done this, tuck in your elbows to an angle that is comfortable to you. Striking should come from the fingers and their movement.
The traditional grip is quite different from any of the matched grip methods. It involves holding the stick with the palm side facing up. Striking is done using the wrist as opposed to the fingers.
To try it out, place your palm facing upwards. Place the stick between your thumb and index finger, finding the balancing point as you do. Once you have it, wrap the thumb and index finger around the stick, and place your middle finger under the index.
The remaining fingers should go underneath the rod, almost as if you were using a pair of chopsticks. You will find that you have a solid grip allowing for better control.
Helpful and Handy Tips
Different ways of holding a stick will impact how you hit the drum, and influence the attack and tone of your playing. They also have different methods of control, with some facilitating a loose playing style and others strict and regimented. You can change them depending upon the genre of the song, though many people like to have a preferred method and stick to it.
Matched grip techniques are the best way to hold drumsticks when learning, mainly as they are the most comfortable. It also offers a lot of stick control. Traditional grips arise from marching band and classical percussion where instruments angle downward.
Finding Your Own Grip
If you have a drum teacher, then they will probably have a preferred method in which to teach you. However, for anyone self-taught, how to hold drum sticks should be dictated by comfort.
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