Traditional grip or German?

Squirrel Man

Well-Known Member
Gold Supporting Member
Joined
Aug 28, 2020
Messages
276
Reaction score
221
I can't get away from the German grip, been using it all my life, it just feels too natural. I can see the benefits of using traditional on the snare, it feels fine in that pocket, I can work it but hitting toms with traditional is ugly for me.

What do you use? Both? I'd really like to hear feedback on this, I keep trying back and forth with both and I'm wondering what the benefits of traditional are in the long run or should I just stick with what I know.

Thanks
 

bigbonzo

DFO Star
Joined
Jul 16, 2011
Messages
7,548
Reaction score
972
Location
The Wild Wild West (Side of Cleveland)
It's gotten to where I can't stand traditional grip. I use mostly matched American grip with a little German. I also use the French grip on ride cymbal.

So, I use all three, depending on what I'm doing.

I think that folks that prefer traditional grip learned it when they were youngsters and now find it difficult to make the switch.

There is no advantage to playing traditional grip unless you are playing a snare drum on a sling.
 
Last edited:

Matched Gripper

Very well Known Member
Joined
May 28, 2019
Messages
655
Reaction score
493
I can't get away from the German grip, been using it all my life, it just feels too natural. I can see the benefits of using traditional on the snare, it feels fine in that pocket, I can work it but hitting toms with traditional is ugly for me.

What do you use? Both? I'd really like to hear feedback on this, I keep trying back and forth with both and I'm wondering what the benefits of traditional are in the long run or should I just stick with what I know.

Thanks
For me, matched and traditional grips each have their own advantages. I have more relaxed speed and endurance with my arm bent playing on the snare or pad with traditional grip, especially when playing rudimental snare drum etudes with lots of flams, roughs and drags in awkward places.

But, that advantage is lost when I have to straighten my arm to move around the kit and reach for toms and cymbals. In addition, perhaps because I originally learned to play with matched grip, musical ideas and phrases seem to flow more naturally with matched grip. YMMV.

PS: Then there’s brushes.
 

hsosdrum

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2020
Messages
467
Reaction score
694
There is absolutely NO reason on Earth that anyone should learn to play drums using traditional grip. None. Traditional grip forces the left hand into an unnatural position and the left wrist into an unnatural movement. (After all, if that grip and movement were superior we'd use it for both hands.)

Traditional grip developed during the 18th and 19th centuries strictly to overcome the tilt that a snare drum has when marching with it hanging over your shoulder on a sling. This tilts the drum away from the left hand, which would force the drummer's left elbow uncomfortably away from the body using matched grip. So this less-than-ideal left-hand grip evolved to allow the drummer to play more comfortably for long periods while marching. Today's marching drum holders place the drumhead perfectly level, so traditional grip is no longer even required for marching.

Traditional grip restricts the power and movement of the left hand. You can't hit as hard and it's more difficult to reach the floor tom(s) on your right side. Traditional grip also makes it almost impossible to properly play cymbal crashes with the left hand. In short, traditional grip places restrictions on drumset technique that matched grip does not. (Brushes? Of course we can play brushes with matched grip. If you can swish a brush on a drumhead with your right hand you can swish it just as well with your left hand if you practice.)

I make this case based on personal experience. When I learned how to play drums back in the 60s I was taught to play traditional grip. That's the way I practiced snare drum technique for thousands of hours, so that's the muscle memory I developed. I can play a closed roll as smooth as glass (or as Buddy Rich used to say, "so it sounds like tearing a sheet of paper"), an open roll with power, paradiddles, ruffs, ratamacues, you name it. And when I got seriously into rock music I was able to transition my left-hand grip to matched grip relatively easily. This gave me the power and ease-of-movement I needed when playing loud music 4 hours a night for years and years on a very large drumset.

HOWEVER, in spite of all the hours I've spent the past few decades playing with matched grip I’ve never been able to duplicate the left-hand skill and finesse that I have when I use traditional grip with my left hand. Why? Because I did not spend the time practicing snare drum technique using matched grip that I did using traditional grip when I was younger. I developed that muscle memory with traditional grip. Sure, it would be possible to play with equal facility using both grips, but not without committing thousands of hours of of extra practice time and effort. Nothing's free.

So, I’m forced to continually change my left hand between matched grip and traditional grip when playing drumset. “So what’s the problem?”, you might say. The problem goes back to the angle of the snare drum. When using traditional grip it’s more comfortable to play with the snare drum tilted away from you (to accommodate your left hand’s movement), but with matched grip it’s more comfortable to play with the snare drum tilted slightly towards you, so you can more easily execute rim shots while keeping your left arm relaxed. The best compromise is keeping the snare with its head perfectly flat, but that’s still a compromise. It means that no matter which grip I use, my snare drum is never completely 100% comfortable to play. When using traditional grip I have to keep my left elbow slightly lower than ideal, and when using matched grip I have to keep my left elbow slightly higher than is ideal.

If you've spent your whole drumming life using matched grip and want to improve, spend your practice time getting better with matched grip — why start all over again with a completely different left-hand grip that offers NO advantages but several disadvantages? It simply doesn't make sense.

Again, if traditional grip were superior we'd use it for both hands. We don't of course, because it isn't.
 
Last edited:

Matched Gripper

Very well Known Member
Joined
May 28, 2019
Messages
655
Reaction score
493
There is absolutely NO reason on Earth that anyone should learn to play drums using traditional grip. None. Traditional grip forces the left hand into an unnatural position and the left wrist into an unnatural movement. (After all, if that grip and movement were superior we'd use it for both hands.)

Traditional grip developed during the 18th and 19th centuries strictly to overcome the tilt that a snare drum has when marching with it hanging over your shoulder on a sling. This tilts the drum away from the left hand, which would force the drummer's left elbow uncomfortably away from the body using matched grip. So this less-than-ideal left-hand grip evolved to allow the drummer to play more comfortably for long periods while marching. Today's marching drum holders place the drumhead perfectly level, so traditional grip is no longer even required for marching.

Traditional grip restricts the power and movement of the left hand. You can't hit as hard and it's more difficult to reach the floor tom(s) on your right side. Traditional grip also makes it almost impossible to properly play cymbal crashes with the left hand. In short, traditional grip places restrictions on drumset technique that matched grip does not. (Brushes? Of course we can play brushes with matched grip. If you can swish a brush on a drumhead with your right hand you can swish it just as well with your left hand if you practice.)

I make this case based on personal experience. When I learned how to play drums back in the 60s I was taught to play traditional grip. That's the way I practiced snare drum technique for thousands of hours, so that's the muscle memory I developed. I can play a closed roll as smooth as glass (or as Buddy Rich used to say, "so it sounds like tearing a sheet of paper"), an open roll with power, paradiddles, ruffs, ratamacues, you name it. And when I got seriously into rock music I was able to transition my left-hand grip to matched grip relatively easily. This gave me the power and ease-of-movement I needed when playing loud music 4 hours a night for years and years on a very large drumset.

HOWEVER, in spite of all the hours I've spent the past few decades playing with matched grip I’ve never been able to duplicate the left-hand skill and finesse that I have when I use traditional grip with my left hand. Why? Because I did not spend the time practicing snare drum technique using matched grip that I did using traditional grip when I was younger. I developed that muscle memory with traditional grip. Sure, it would be possible to play with equal facility using both grips, but not without committing thousands of hours of of extra practice time and effort. Nothing's free.

So, I’m forced to continually change my left hand between matched grip and traditional grip when playing drumset. “So what’s the problem?”, you might say. The problem goes back to the angle of the snare drum. When using traditional grip it’s more comfortable to play with the snare drum tilted away from you (to accommodate your left hand’s movement), but with matched grip it’s more comfortable to play with the snare drum tilted slightly towards you, so you can more easily execute rim shots while keeping your left arm relaxed. The best compromise is keeping the snare with its head perfectly flat, but that’s still a compromise. It means that no matter which grip I use, my snare drum is never completely 100% comfortable to play. When using traditional grip I have to keep my left elbow slightly lower than ideal, and when using matched grip I have to keep my left elbow slightly higher than is ideal.

If you've spent your whole drumming life using matched grip and want to improve, spend your practice time getting better with matched grip — why start all over again with a completely different left-hand grip that offers NO advantages but several disadvantages? It simply doesn't make sense.

Again, if traditional grip were superior we'd use it for both hands. We don't of course, because it isn't.
Actually, if you only play on snare drum, traditional grip in both hands might be the superior approach. I find supination/pronation of the forearm to be a superior movement to flexion/extension of the wrist, in terms of tension free speed, endurance and maximum rebound, as long as the arm is bent and close to the body. Once the arm is straightened to reach for another sound source, wrist flexion/extension seems to be the superior movement.
 

Tornado

DFO Veteran
Silver Supporting Member
Joined
Sep 6, 2017
Messages
2,291
Reaction score
2,049
Location
Dallas
Some people will tell you about the advantages of a certain grip. It's almost always the same grip they learned with. Curious, isn't it? Buddy rich said it's easier to play fast around the toms with traditional grip. Couldn't have anything to do spending an entire lifetime playing traditional, could it? Of course it's going to feel awkward.

Now for some of my opinions, which are nothing more than opinions.

A lot of matched grip drummers who grew up playing heavy backbeats in loud music find it difficult to play delicate ghost notes and such with their left hand, but find it much easier when they try traditional. I think there are a couple of reasons. First, all that muscle memory playing only loud is much less of a factor. Classical snare drummers (where we get German grip in the first place) don't have a problem playing delicate and intricate parts. Must be because they actually practiced this stuff. The second reason is that holding the stick in your hand in a supinated position means you are supporting more of the weight of the stick, keeping gravity from doing as much. This sounds like a big win for traditional until you realize you can achieve the same thing by rotating into a French grip. That's what I've seen Gary Chaffee do.
 
Last edited:

Tornado

DFO Veteran
Silver Supporting Member
Joined
Sep 6, 2017
Messages
2,291
Reaction score
2,049
Location
Dallas
Actually, if you only play on snare drum, traditional grip in both hands might be the superior approach. I find supination/pronation of the forearm to be a superior movement to flexion/extension of the wrist, in terms of tension free speed, endurance and maximum rebound, as long as the arm is bent and close to the body. Once the arm is straightened to reach for another sound source, wrist flexion/extension seems to be the superior movement.
If this was true, we'd play with both hands supinated. But it's not true.
 

JimmySticks

Very well Known Member
Silver Supporting Member
Joined
Jun 28, 2019
Messages
760
Reaction score
708
Location
Queens NY
I’m all traditional grip these days.

I think my jazz just sounds better, especially my fills with traditional grip. A bit softer, less loud and with less edge. With matched grip, my fills tend to sound more rock and roll, hitting a bit to firm and loud, and my phrasing is just to aggressive. The only thing I find difficult with traditional is hitting the left hand crash consistently well with the left hand.

Then there is the look factor. I know I’ll get slagged for this, but traditional just looks proper for jazz. Seeing a matched grip jazz player looks a bit odd to my eye, and yes, I’ve listened to some great matched grip jazzers, but it looks off, as though he is not fully committed to jazz and tradition. It’s just like seeing a jazz guitarist with his ES335 slung way down low, instead of up high like traditional jazz guitarists always have, it would just look funny.

Alright, slag away! :-D
 

Nacci

DFO Master
Joined
Jul 25, 2015
Messages
3,424
Reaction score
2,708
Location
Roxbury, NH.
For the most part I rarely think about my grip or feel the need to assign a designation to it.

I played pipe and drum for years with traditional shoulder slings and leg brace and used a traditional grip for that. Then we got a new drum sergeant who decided that we were going to move to chest harnesses and at that point I switched to match grip because it felt right.....until he told me to switch back to traditional because of aesthetics and uniformity.

I also went through a Traditional grip phase when I was young because I was infatuated with Steve Ferrone’s playing with Clapton’s band. That lasted about four years, then I just went back to matched for whatever reason.

To this day, every once in a while I’ll switch to traditional just for the hell of it and it will feel awkward for a bit then I’m right back at it....but that never lasts long.

For me, it has become something that is best not to think about too much. I’m a matched player. I let my hands pick up my sticks and do their job with very little supervision from me.

The new frontier is touch, feel and dynamics not mechanics.
 

Tornado

DFO Veteran
Silver Supporting Member
Joined
Sep 6, 2017
Messages
2,291
Reaction score
2,049
Location
Dallas
Then there is the look factor. I know I’ll get slagged for this, but traditional just looks proper for jazz. Seeing a matched grip jazz player looks a bit odd to my eye, and yes, I’ve listened to some great matched grip jazzers, but it looks off, as though he is not fully committed to jazz and tradition. It’s just like seeing a jazz guitarist with his ES335 slung way down low, instead of up high like traditional jazz guitarists always have, it would just look funny.

Alright, slag away! :-D
I think there is something to this. Sort of like method acting. To play the role, become the character. If it helps, that's great.
 

bolweevil

DFO Master
Joined
Jun 27, 2011
Messages
3,829
Reaction score
225
Location
Eau Claire, WI
I can only play traditional grip if I do it with my right hand, which makes no sense anyway. It does kind of look cool IMO, but for me there is no other point to it (so not enough of a point to do it).
 

JimmySticks

Very well Known Member
Silver Supporting Member
Joined
Jun 28, 2019
Messages
760
Reaction score
708
Location
Queens NY
I think there is something to this. Sort of like method acting. To play the role, become the character. If it helps, that's great.
Excellent analogy!

Thank you, you worded it much better than me.
 

Markkuliini

DFO Veteran
Joined
Aug 4, 2011
Messages
2,786
Reaction score
1,329
Location
Sweden/Finland
I’m all traditional grip these days.

I think my jazz just sounds better, especially my fills with traditional grip. A bit softer, less loud and with less edge. With matched grip, my fills tend to sound more rock and roll, hitting a bit to firm and loud, and my phrasing is just to aggressive. The only thing I find difficult with traditional is hitting the left hand crash consistently well with the left hand.

Then there is the look factor. I know I’ll get slagged for this, but traditional just looks proper for jazz. Seeing a matched grip jazz player looks a bit odd to my eye, and yes, I’ve listened to some great matched grip jazzers, but it looks off, as though he is not fully committed to jazz and tradition. It’s just like seeing a jazz guitarist with his ES335 slung way down low, instead of up high like traditional jazz guitarists always have, it would just look funny.

Alright, slag away! :-D
Hmmm...If you play trad. grip but don't sound good, the look won't help you one bit. It doesn't fool anyone.
If you sound good, no one cares what grip you play.
 

jaymandude

Well-Known Member
Silver Supporting Member
Joined
Jul 3, 2020
Messages
433
Reaction score
391
I don’t often chime in on the grip or stick threads. But yes, the guys here who play both ( like me) really deal with the snare angle dilemma. Lots of great comments. It’s refreshing to read actually.

The best comments tho are the ones that talk about practicing.
 

Vicey

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 14, 2016
Messages
65
Reaction score
73
Location
FL
I grew up playing traditional grip and it always felt awkward to me. I was overjoyed in high school when we got harnesses and were allowed (i.e., forced) to play match. So I played match and nothing but for decades.

More recently, I've gotten back in touch with traditional and started using it. Why? At first I think it was primarily because I wanted to know what I had gotten wrong all those years ago. And I was able to become comfortable with it pretty quickly (and learned that I had been gripping too tightly back in the 70s, but then weren't we all?). But I like using it now because it makes me think differently and thus play differently.

I solve the snare angle problem by setting it for match grip and forcing my traditional to adapt to it. Since I'm still playing probably 80% match, this works for me.

The exception is brushes. Brushes are always traditional for me. I'm not saying it's better, just that the connection is ingrained in my mind.
 

JimmySticks

Very well Known Member
Silver Supporting Member
Joined
Jun 28, 2019
Messages
760
Reaction score
708
Location
Queens NY
Hmmm...If you play trad. grip but don't sound good, the look won't help you one bit. It doesn't fool anyone.
If you sound good, no one cares what grip you play.
Of course your correct, but if all things are equal, I think jazz purists would rather see trad grip as opposed to match, just as almost nobody would want to see a jazz guitarist with a low slung guitar. Visually it’s just not good.
 

halldorl

DFO Veteran
Joined
Jan 16, 2011
Messages
2,654
Reaction score
2,229
Location
Iceland
Watching great experienced drummers using the trad grip is a bit painful. Even a master drummer like Steve Smith looks very forced, with his left shoulder slouching. It can’t be good for your body. It looks anything but relaxed and comfortable. No trad grip for me thanks, unless I’ll be marching to battle.

See here, towards the end of the video:

 

JDA

DFO Star
Silver Supporting Member
Joined
Aug 7, 2005
Messages
17,812
Reaction score
6,580
Location
Jeannette, Pa.
Wait.
Art Blakey used it because

1) it looked better
or
2) he wasn't aware he could play matched grip one hundred percent of the time


Ok. I got a bridge to sell you..

Maybe there's a Third answer.

It was in Modern Drummer about 40 years ago.

Trad Grip appears/feels/ is (pick your word) lighter, delicate-r. quicker, less clumsy, weaker (pick your word)

Because in Trad Grip 7 muscles are involved.
In Matched Grip 11 muscles are involved.

down/up each stroke
that's the muscle tally.
for each.
That's why one is always feeling (pick your word) lighter
and the other (pick your word) stronger, heavier, etc

7 vs 11

that explains everything
 


Top