Drumstick Grips

how to hold your drumstick
Drumstick Grips

The Matched Grip

The matched grip, is a method of holding drum sticks and mallets to play percussion instruments. In the matched grip each hand holds its stick in the same way.Because your hands are effectively mirroring each other, you are performing the same procedure with each stick and you are more likely to obtain a consistent and full sound, with the added advantage of not having to learn how to hold the sticks twice!

The matched grip is performed by gripping the drum sticks with one’s index finger and middle finger curling around the bottom of the stick and the thumb on the top. This allows the stick to move freely and bounce after striking a percussion instrument.

  • Lay a drumstick in front of you with the tip pointing away, and pick it up at the stick’s balance point using your index finger and thumb, with your palm facing down.
  • Roll the stick across your index finger so that it is now between the first and second joints of the index finger but touching the first joint.
  • Holding the stick with just the, thumb and index finger, palm still facing down, curl the other fingers loosely around the stick. Don’t squeeze the stick too tightly, keep it loose. Creating a fulcrum for the stick.
  • Tilt your hand at a slight angle to a more natural hand position, this will enable you use the 3 curled fingers to bounce the stick.
  • The drumsticks are held with left hand a mirror image of the right, “matched grip”

The Traditional Grip

With the traditional grip, each hand holds the stick differently. This grip was designed by drummers in army corps who had the’ drum resting on their hips. The angle of their snare drum made it hard for
them to play with matched grip. Because of that drum position, using an overhand grip on the high (left) side of the drum would force the elbow into a very awkward position while an underhand grip is much more comfortable. With the underhand grip, there are several different techniques employed which involve slight variations in finger positioning and usage. Common with all techniques is the usage of the wrist in rotating (a motion like turning a door knob) as the fundamental motion of the stick. Some of the characteristics of the traditional grip include less power and attack with each stroke, as well as increased control when it comes to ghost note patterns.

  • Hold a drumstick in your right hand like you would match grip.
    Your thumb on the left side and your other fingers wrapped around the stick.
  • Open your left hand, palm up. Put the back end of the stick between your middle and ring fingers.
  • Slide the stick into the “L” shape that is made between your thumb and pointer finger.
  • Close your hand, not very tightly.
  • Put your middle finger about 1/3 of the way down the stick, and your pointer about a centimeter and a half behind it.
  • Your ring and pinky fingers should be underneath the stick, with your pinky under your ring finger.

Once the stick has started moving, more involved techniques require the exclusive use of the thumb for bouncing the stick when playing at a faster tempo.The traditional grip must be played correctly or you
will end up hurting yourself in the long run. If you learn this grip then please make sure you form good habits in the beginning!

The German Grip

In German grip, the palms of the hands are parallel to the drumhead or other playing surface,with the sticks forming an obvious right angle in rest position and the stick is moved primarily with the wrist. The grip provides a large amount of power, but sacrifices the finesse provided by the use of the fingers. The idea behind this grip is that the action combines equal parts finger and wrist and gives the drummer the ability to generate great power with the use of inner forearm muscles. It is used when power is the primary concern, such as when playing a bass drum. Many power players find that they develop a preference for German grip in their playing due to the power of sound and control it offers.

  • With the hands fully turned over so that the thumbs are facing inward and the back of the hands are up at a near 90 degree angle.
  • The thumb and index finger continue to create the fulcrum for the stick. (fulcrum – Explained in the matched grip)
  • As the hand is turned over, the energy in your forearms can be most thoroughly transferred through the stick and the drums and cymbals will respond accordingly.
  • The middle finger of the remaining three fingers aids significantly in support and creating niceties in your technique.

The ability to create power and volume in your drum and cymbal strokes is the primary benefit of German grip.

The French Grip

Drumstick grip is the most important and fundamental aspect of hand technique that you’ll ever learn. The way you grip the drumsticks will affect your speed around the drum set. The French grip is an underused approaching to holding drum sticks.

  • In the French grip, you take a matched grip and turn each hand outwards 90 degrees, the hands face directly toward each other.
  • The fingers primarily control the stroke of the drumstick.
  • The fulcrum is still between the thumb and first finger.
  • The middle, ring, and pinky finger control the stroke.
  • The stick is moved primarily with the fingers rather than the wrist as in German grip. This allows a greater degree of finesse, for playing fast tempo swing or jazz for the ride cymbal.

The French grip has certain advantages and certainly has a very different approach than matched and traditional grip.

The American Grip

This grip is considered a general-purpose grip by percussionists, it is a hybrid of the German and French grips. This grip will probably feel more natural to beginners.

  • The palms of the hands typically are at about a 45-degree angle in relation to the drumhead.
  • Your elbows will come in slightly and the tips should create an angle much closer to a 90 degree,or right angle, on the drumhead.
  • With the palms at a 45 degree angle, you lose a little power but gain considerable lateral speed.
  • Both the fingers and wrist are used to propel the stick, it gives the drummer the power of German grip with the finesse of French grip.

It can be very effective when you need to move from drum to drum, such as when playing the drum set or marching tenors


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