Holding the drumsticks is something of an art that every drummer must master. But like most things in drumming, drum sticks how to hold them the right way, can be developed and improved over time. So perfect grip isn’t essential to begin learning to play the drums. A basic understanding is good enough to begin.
Drum Sticks How To Hold Them
There are two ways of holding the drumsticks. Matched grip where both hands are used in exactly the same way. And traditional grip involves a completely different technique with the left hand.
In this article, we are going to cover the mechanics of each method.
Matched grip is where both hands are used in the same way. This grip is often thought of as the “modern” grip because it is how most drummers hold their sticks today. Matched grip is easier to learn and can be more versatile than a traditional grip. It is thus much easier than the traditional grip.
Here are the mechanics of holding the right hand using the matched grip approach.
In matched grip (left image) both hands are used in the exact same way. So do the same with your left hand as you did with your right hand.
- Hold your right hand with your palm open and facing upward.
- Place the stick in a diagonal position with the fat end (the butt) opposite the ball of the thumb.
- Make sure there is about 1 inch hanging over your hand near the wrist.
- Wrap your fingers around the stick.
- Then turn your hand so the palm faces downward
Traditional grip is a littel trickier. This is where the left hand is held differently from the right hand. This grip is often thought of as the “old-school” way of holding drumsticks. The traditional grip can be more challenging to learn. But it can also be more powerful and give you more control over your drumming. Or so say some. I myself find the opposite to be true because I was brought up using the traditional grip.
The right hand is used in the same way as in the matched grip. But the left hand is different.
- Place your left hand with your palm facing upward.
- Position the drumstick across the palm of your left hand, with the stick’s butt beneath the thumb and spanning the palm.
- Proceed by wrapping your thumb securely around the stick.
- And then wrap your first two fingers around the stick.
This is the basic position of the left hand using a traditional grip.
Using the traditional grip the basic movement are a little awkward. Begin to lift your left hand and at the same time turn the wrist anti-clockwise a little. You then reverse this motion to strike the drum.
Which Grip is Right for You?
Matched grip and traditional grip are both valid ways of holding drumsticks. The best way to decide which grip is right for you is to experiment with both and see which one feels better. There is no “right” or “wrong” grip, so it comes down to personal preference. I would tell beginners to begin with the matched grip as soon as they have the basic grip. Try the traditional grip.
Traditional grip vs matched grip
Traditional grip is the more traditional way of holding drumsticks. And is often used by marching bands and jazz-style players. as suggested, in traditional grip, you hold the sticks between your thumb. And the first two fingers. With your other fingers curled around the sticks for support. Matched grip is more commonly used in rock and pop music. And involves holding the sticks in an overhand grip, with your palms facing each other.
There are pros and cons to both grips, so it’s a matter of personal preference. This is why I suggested beginning with matched and then trying the traditional grip. Some people find that the traditional grip gives them more control over the sticks. While others find that matched grip feels more natural. Ultimately, it’s up to you to experiment with both grips and see which one works best for you.
Why you should learn how to hold your drum sticks the traditional way
There are plenty of reasons to learn how to hold your drumsticks the traditional way (left image). For one, it’s much more comfortable than gripping them tightly in your fist. Or so they say. And when you loosen your grip, you’re still able to play with a lot of power and precision. Additionally, a traditional grip also gives you a wider range of motion. Plus, it looks cooler. But that may be because I envy those who use traditional grip masterfully. But only a little. I started learning traditional grip near the end of my drumming career and never really got to grips with it.
If you’re interested in learning how to play the drums. There’s no reason not to start with a traditional grip. Or at least move on to it as I mentioned earlier.
It may take a little bit of practice to get used to, but I reckon it would be worth it in the end. Who knows, you might even find that you prefer it over other grips.
In the end, drummers should be able to use both grips. Maybe traditional for softer to medium level drumming such as used in jazz or fusion. And matched grip for more rocky ground, in a musical sense of course.
The Angle of the Wrists
When you first start playing the drums, it can be tricky to figure out how to hold the drumsticks properly. One of the most important things to keep in mind is the angle, position, and motion of your wrists. If your wrists are too low and angled downward. You’ll end up hitting the drumhead with the fleshy part of your hand, your knuckles, or your little finger. Depending on whether your thumbnail is pointing to the side or pointing upward. Which will make a muffled sound.
If your wrists are too high and angled upward, you won’t be able to generate enough power to produce a clear sound. The sweet spot is somewhere in between. With your wrists angled so that the sticks hit the drumhead at a slight downward angle.
This is better described thus:
Keep your wrist in alignment (parallel) to your arm. And only when lifting the arm should you lower your wrist. And only as the stick reaches the perpendicular angle to the drum head (90 degrees). Should you move your wrist backward (up) and then flick it back downward? As you begin to move your arm downward to strike the drum again. This is a flowing motion with the arm and the wrist held loose as you whip it downward (as you move the stick down). And rotate the wrist upward as you begin to move the stick upward.
The Use of Fingers and Thumb
When you hold drumsticks, you use a combination of fingers and thumb. The thumb should be on top of the stick, and the first two fingers should be wrapped around the bottom. This grip may feel awkward at first, but with practice, it will become natural. You can experiment with different grip styles to find what feels most comfortable. Some drummers prefer to keep their index fingers straight. While others like to curl it around the stick.
There is no right or wrong way to hold your drumsticks – it is a matter of practice and preference. With a little trial and error, you will find the perfect grip for you. If you follow these guidelines to get you started.
You may need to read through the motions again. As you follow through with practicing those motions as you read. But you will soon get the basic mechanics of both grips. And thus, form your own grip that feels comfortable to you.
In conclusion, it is evident that there are benefits to using a matched grip in drumming. This grip allows for a more powerful and fluid stroke, which can increase power and volume. While some drummers may prefer to use a traditional grip. The matched grip remains the most popular choice among professionals. especially outside the USA. However, I believe that is because it is easier to get a grip with. And less jazz-style music was played outside the US until recent years.
Being a right-handed drummer. I believe that the added attention and practice of the traditional grip. Allows the right brain to be more easily accessible. That’s because the right brain (creative) is linked to the left side of the body. And the left brain (analytical) is linked to the right side of the body. But that’s just a theory I have based on my experiences of using the traditional grip.
I am not a traditional grip player and am only guessing that this brain theory is true. What are your thoughts? Which grip do you prefer and why? Let us know your preferences and why you prefer to hold the sticks a particular way in the comments below.