Achieving "Click Grip" or "Click Technique" on the Ride Cymbal

IJR

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Hi! I just joined the forum.

I am a big fan of Bill Stewart's drumming. I saw him live in Little Rock last month- it was awesome! There is a distinctive "woody"/"clicky" sound when he strikes his cymbals. I've noticed it in some other players as well.

I have seen very few mentions of the elusive "click grip" and no good explanations on how to achieve it. I've seen some say to hold it loose, while some say to grip tight. I just got some VF SD2 Bolero sticks that give a ton of stick sound, which helps. I see a lot of cymbal nerds playing these sticks.


Here is Bill with the John Scofield Trio. I love this album. You can hear the sound very well around 1:20 during the bass solo for example.

Here is an interview with him talking about it. (The interviewer, Quincy Davis, has great lessons on his channel).

In this video, a guy is demoing a cymbal and at 0:10s he moves his thumb up and gets an EXTREMELY loud click.

I really want to learn how to achieve this technique. Thanks!
 

JazzDrumGuy

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I'll check these out tonite. I love Bill Stewart's playing and ride sounds, and I play Boleros exclusively except for 3 sets of Zildjian Bill Stewart sticks, which are great but a tad thin for me. For the life of me, I can't get Bill's sound from my Complex dry rides, though (the cymbal that he designed with Zildjian).....seems like I can get it more out of K Cons........
 
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JazzDrumGuy

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In Bill's interview with Quincy (who is a killer player, too!), he has sticks that are not Boleros and seem too thick to be his own model sticks, but certainly looks similar.

I note the guy playing the Om has the fat part of the thumb under the nail on the stick, and then for the "click" sound, he has the thumb extended and the thumb joint on the stick. This seems to me would a firmer hit on the ride and maybe create more of a stick sound as the stick will hit versus bounce up. I will have to try it at home on a ride but you can see the differences here:


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IJR

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Thanks, guys! Super helpful!

I've started trying some of what I've seen with some success. Unfortunately I'm not in a place where I can play loudly right now.

I asked a guy in the comments on Youtube and he kindly explained it this way:

"... If I had to explain it in words: if you start with matched grip (thumbs in, wrists up), just twist your wrist until your thumb is on top. Then slide your thumb back so that the tip of your thumb is where the meaty part of your thumb used to be. You're essentially creating a new fulcrum: your thumb is now pinching the stick against your index finger, upon which the stick rocks like a see-saw. Clickety click!"

Check out his channel for some of the best sounding recordings of jazz drums and cymbals you've ever heard.
(Also he told me a couple of these cymbals were for sale).
 

AaronLatos

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A little anecdote on Bill Stewart's cymbals sound.

When I was hanging out with Barry, the owner of the old Drummersworld NYC shop, he mentioned that for a while, he was selling tons of the K custom complex ride. Supposedly Bill had been involved in the creation of it, or at least was using one, and everyone around town called it the Bill Stewart model. He knew the cymbal really well because he moved tons of them.

One day he heard someone demoing one in the cymbol room, and he noted that it was probably the best sounding example of one that he had heard. But then Barry remembered... he sold his last one the day before. Had someone brought one in used earlier that morning?

He went into the cymbal room, curious, and there was Bill himself, playing an A Custom Ping ride.
 
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Seb77

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Ha, great story!

Re: click grip -I don't think the thumb plays a major role here. I keep thethumb where it normally sits, with the same angle.
The main difference is in the position of the other fingers which form a cavity around the stick which amplifies the click frequency (for the physics of this see "Helmholtz resonator"). You can get this with any stick, and on any hard surface. Steeper angle increases wood sound and decreases metallic contact sound.

Something I've been working on recently: When you play the swing beat using a on open/close or push/pull motion for the "&1" or double stroke/ shuffle part, the act of opening the fingers makes the click sound (almost) impossible at that moment. (Or I might just have to keep working on it?). On the "2" and "4" strokes, the single strokes, you can keep the hand closed and get the click sound. Obviously you can vary the pattern for modern styles, but it will always consist of single strokes (click sound possible) and doubles (no click sound). You can hear those two sounds on recordings of Bill's ride beat as well, as he uses the open/close technique a lot.
Btw, I think he uses the John Riiey model sticks.

Listen to my meager attempt here:
https://soundcloud.com/seb234%2Fbeautiful-love-collingwood-225-thin-ride
 

JazzDrumGuy

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Well, good news is that I play both "normal" thumbs up, and with thumb extended - I can tell a slight difference but I still suck!
I think the cymbal has a lot to do with it for those us with poor technique......

The "How Dry Am I" video has 2 great sounding cymbals, and the Collingwood one is also wonderful.....thanks!

I like this guy's playing, too - but he also has killer gear in many YT vids:

 

IJR

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Well, good news is that I play both "normal" thumbs up, and with thumb extended - I can tell a slight difference but I still suck!
I think the cymbal has a lot to do with it for those us with poor technique......

The "How Dry Am I" video has 2 great sounding cymbals, and the Collingwood one is also wonderful.....thanks!

I like this guy's playing, too - but he also has killer gear in many YT vids:

Yeah! I'm subscribed to Franco's channel.
 

IJR

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Ha, great story!

Re: click grip -I don't think the thumb plays a major role here. I keep thethumb where it normally sits, with the same angle.
The main difference is in the position of the other fingers which form a cavity around the stick which amplifies the click frequency (for the physics of this see "Helmholtz resonator"). You can get this with any stick, and on any hard surface. Steeper angle increases wood sound and decreases metallic contact sound.

Something I've been working on recently: When you play the swing beat using a on open/close or push/pull motion for the "&1" or double stroke/ shuffle part, the act of opening the fingers makes the click sound (almost) impossible at that moment. (Or I might just have to keep working on it?). On the "2" and "4" strokes, the single strokes, you can keep the hand closed and get the click sound. Obviously you can vary the pattern for modern styles, but it will always consist of single strokes (click sound possible) and doubles (no click sound). You can hear those two sounds on recordings of Bill's ride beat as well, as he uses the open/close technique a lot.
Btw, I think he uses the John Riiey model sticks.

Listen to my meager attempt here:
https://soundcloud.com/seb234%2Fbeautiful-love-collingwood-225-thin-ride
I didn't realize it was the result of making a cavity with the hand until I experimented for a while. Knowing this makes it more clear what you need to do to achieve the sound.
 

Seb77

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I didn't realize it was the result of making a cavity with the hand until I experimented for a while. Knowing this makes it more clear what you need to do to achieve the sound.
Cool!
The first time I heard someone do this, I sort of freaked out. Had to ask him how he did it, and luckily he told me!
The smaller the cavity the higher the pitch, so if you form a larger cavity, you get a lower "knock". If you grab the stick in your fist, you get a very small cavity and thus a higher click; I think you can hear that with guys like Jon Christensen or my former teacher Keith Copeland (RIP).
 

IJR

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Update: Thanks for the help guys! I've practiced the click grip since starting this thread and it's now a regular part of my playing. Still improvements to be made, though.
 

owr

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Sinclair and Seb got it right, just do what they suggest. Tons of us discussed it years back over at cymbalholic, I learned it just from Sinclair’s video. You don’t need any special cymbal or sticks, just hand technique.
 

dboomer

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Sinclair, your video really nails it! I Find this thread enormously interesting. I had no idea.

If you haven’t actually tried it, hold your stick tight and put your ear right up to your hand. The click you hear you hear like a clave. This is the ride sound I’ve been looking for.

Unfortunately you can’t get both the sound and to be able to play a really fast jazz ride pattern. But you can get a pretty good click on the one.
 

Mongrel

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Sinclair, your video really nails it! I Find this thread enormously interesting. I had no idea.

If you haven’t actually tried it, hold your stick tight and put your ear right up to your hand. The click you hear you hear like a clave. This is the ride sound I’ve been looking for.

Unfortunately you can’t get both the sound and to be able to play a really fast jazz ride pattern. But you can get a pretty good click on the one.
I played around with this for a few minutes last night. I had never heard of it and was pretty intrigued by it.

Just like Bill Stewart said-the "click" comes from the closed hand-like in Sinclair's video, andcan be really heard if you out your ear close to your hand.

For me it wasn't in the thumb position-it was when my middle, ring, and pinkie fingers were in contact with the stick that the "clave" sound came out. As soon as I took thise fingers off and uncupped my hand that sound disappeared.

Interesting stuff for sure and a great thread.
 

paulwells73

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In Bill's interview with Quincy (who is a killer player, too!), he has sticks that are not Boleros and seem too thick to be his own model sticks, but certainly looks similar.
A bit off topic perhaps, but Bill doesn’t use his own signature model stick at all. He uses the Zildjian John Riley model stick. But he can get his sound from any stick and virtually any cymbal.
 

JazzDrumGuy

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A bit off topic perhaps, but Bill doesn’t use his own signature model stick at all. He uses the Zildjian John Riley model stick. But he can get his sound from any stick and virtually any cymbal.
Interesting.....the sticks look similar. I wonder if anyone uses their own signature model? I remember having a Chad Smith sig. snare and I thought that was so cool that it was his own model, until I found out he did NOT use that one!!! I ended up selling it as it did not work for jazz but was a killer rock/funk/RHCP music snare.
 

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