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One of the most important techniques a drummer must know is how to hold the drumsticks properly. Most drummers fail to realize the importance of drum stick grip; ultimately hindering their learning curve. When you play the drums with the correct stick grip, you will get the maximum bounce and control out of your drumsticks. You will be able to play the drums with much more efficiency and power with the proper grips. The quicker you learn how to hold the drum sticks, the quicker you will learn how to play the drums. If you are practicing the wrong way, it will take you that much longer to increase your skills. So let me explain the correct ways you can hold your drumsticks below. If you would like a video lesson on this concept, feel free to check out Mike Michalkow's lesson on how to hold your drumsticks.
The main type of stick grip is the Matched Grip style. This has become the standard grip for most styles of music. Matched grip is basically having both hands the same when holding the sticks – meaning both left and right hands are matched. There are a few ways to hold the sticks with matched grip, let me explain them.
Germanian Grip - The Germanian grip is very common for rock drumming and corps drumming. It involves you holding your stick at the fulcrum point (balance point) with your thumb and index finger, placing your other fingers on the bottom of the stick. What makes this grip different is the angle in which you play your sticks. Place your sticks on the snare drum, and try to make a 90 degree angle with them. When you find this angle, you will notice your elbows may stick out a little, which is normal.
American Grip - The American grip is the same as the Germanian grip; however you are changing the angle ofyour sticks. Instead of having your elbows out and your sticks at a 90 degree angle, relax a little, and let your arms fall. You will notice your sticks come in a little, cutting your angle down to 45 degrees or so. This is the mostcommon style of drumming, mainly because it feels the most comfortable.
French Grip - The French grip is different to both American and Germanian. Let your arms relax even more, and bring your sticks together. You will notice your sticks come together so they are almost parallel. The French grip is unique because the way you are holding your sticks changes from palms down, to palms up. This means you can get a lot more speed by using your fingers. The only down side to this is the lack of power you will get from your strokes.
The other style of stick grip is the traditional grip. This is very common in
jazz drumming and corps drumming. This grip was designed by drummers in army corps who had their snare drum resting on their hips. The angle of their snare drum made it hard for them to play with matched grip. Therefore, they created a new method of holding their hand underneath the stick. This has been more recently been name the traditional grip. To achieve this, you want to hold the stick with your hand upside down, (or palms up). Find the balance point of the stick, and place it in the pocket of your thumb and index finger. Rest the stick on the last two fingers of your hand, (the ring and pinky fingers). Now you just have to simply rest your index and
middle finger on the top of the stick.
Traditional grip is not as popular for rock drumming and other heavy styles of drumming. Because you are playing with your hand underneath the stick, you can’t get as much power out of your strokes. This is why so many drummers use this grip for jazz and other softer styles. The traditional grip must be played correctly or you will end up hurting yourself in the long run. So make sure that if you decide to learn this grip, you learn it the proper way!
No matter what style of drumming you play, it is always good to learn all the stick grips. Learning both matched grip and traditional grip will only further your control and feel for the drum sticks. Once you have these basic grips down, you can start out on learning how to play the drums! Just make sure before you go back to your drum set, make sure you know the correct way to hold your sticks! A great way to practice these different stick grips, is by incorporating them into your drum rudiment practice.