Traditional grip or German?

cworrick

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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.
There are some exceptions to this:

Ohio State (oh, I guess the Bass Drum already says that)
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Santa Clara Vanguard
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The MANY Civil War Reinactor Drumlines
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Many Miltary Parade/Show drummers
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And not EVERYBODY has access, or wants to use the "modern" flat carriers.

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JimmySticks

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A question - if you played the same jazz tune with traditional grip and then matched grip, does it sound the same?

It doesn’t for me. There are subtle, and maybe not so subtle differences. The snare sound is noticeably different between the 2 grips. I strike lighter and from a bit of a different angle with trad grip, thereby giving a more appropriate (to me) jazz sound and feel.
 

kip

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when i was first tsking kit lessons back in late 70s, my teacher was adamant about matched grip w thumbs at the sides (German grip, i believe)... I had a good friend in High School whose teacher was a thumbs on top grip (French Grip). wheni do look at my grip....its "American". ...not quite thumbs out, not quite thumbs out.... but it doesnt cause any pain, and for me, feels good and works for me ergonomically. the biggest change i made to my "grip" was to move away from isolating my wrists when i played. i did that for decades, but in my 40s , i would notice how fatigued my wrists would be , even after a 45 min set. so, i started to look at those Moeller videos, and worked on using more arm, forearm, elbow, more over all motion.... which for years, i was against... i wanted to use the least amount of motion... had i not changed my style, or grip, or incorporated more muscles of my arms, into my playing, id never make it these days thru a 3 hr gig. and using the bigger muscles in my arms, lets me play longer (well, it did, back when we had gigs!). If traditional works for you...why change it? if thumbs up works...why change it....it thumbs out works...why change it...etc.... if it aint broke.....yadaydayada
 

mpungercar

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As drummers most of us start out with a dominant and non-dominant hand. We then spend years attempting to get both hands as "even" as possible. Why in the world would we make that effort more difficult by using two different grips, and on top of that using arguably the more challenging grip with our non-dominant hand?

For the record, I started with traditional grip, and switched to matched as soon as I got my first drum set two years later because I found traditional grip difficult to use on the kit.
 

DBC

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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
I look at any grip as a tool in your drumming arsenal. I think there is utility, as well as vibe, in all grips. I grew up playing nothing but traditional due to that's how my Dad plays. I later got into matched grip when I started to define my own sound and get into more modern rock music. I mainly use matched now, but I go back to traditional when I feel it works better for a musical situation. I think it would serve any drummer to work with, analyze, and develop any grip. So, with all that, I encourage you to look into the history and drummers that used/use traditional grip and see how you might apply to what you do. Maybe it could be fun to set up your kit like an old swing band drummer and try it out. Remember, you only grow by learning and trying, not by discounting and hating.
Last thought: Buddy Rich, Vinnie Colaiuta, Steve Smith, Hal Blaine, Louie Bellson, Steve Jordan, Max Roach, etc. all use Traditional Grip. Those are somewhat decent players ;)
 

dark energy

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Traditional grip is not supposed to feel or sound the same as matched. It is different and that difference should be embraced. Billy Cobham is quoted as saying he would love to play both hands in traditional grip. It feels different and so it sounds different. Lighter, snappier, and it forces a player to think differently. Matched grip is all about evenness, symmetry and gravity. It smacks and bangs. It's linear. Traditional is round, uneven, and when using Moeller technique, is fast as a whip. It swings. Watch Kenny Clarke's left hand. A blur. Traditional has so many ways of application. Wrist strokes, upstrokes, and all the various finger tricks. Vinnie Calliuta is the finger master. It may feel wierd, but that's the point.
 

DavedrumsTX

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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
The short answer is there is no practical reason to play traditional grip, unless you are playing a drum with strap. If you were designing a car, you would not design the left front wheel at angle unless there was a specific purpose.

I started studying drums in 1972 and was taught traditional grip. However, I started also playing timpani and mallet keys and it made no sense to me that I would switch back and forth.

Yes, Vinnie and Buddy(RIP) play/played match grip. But let’s face it, they are wonderful freaks of nature.

I use both grips and never think about which one to use. It just happens. If I had a chance to go back in time to the younger me, I would definitely focus on match grip and I would play the kit open handed like Cobham, White, Phillips and Beauford.
 

jakeo

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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.
Exactly how I feel. Depending on the gig I have to commit to the grip because of the way I have to angle the snare drum. For me the compromise position doesn't work. Lately I've been shedding a lot - and have focused on trad. There's benefits for me only because like you it's what I grew up on. To the OP I would recommend staying focused on matched.
 

OZjazzer

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Ask a kid to pick up a pair of drum sticks and unless they are crazy they’ll pick them up matched grip. Then get them to move their wrist and the stick and chances are they’ll hold the stick with the German grip because that’s the way the way the wrist wants to hinge.

Then start them hitting a pad. Show them that weak hand will learn from the strong hand.

It’s not rocket science it’s common sense. If trad grip was better we’d be playing both hands that way. We don’t because that would be stupid.

BTW playing brushes works fine with matched grip too. I’m just sorry I wasted a lot of time playing sticks with matched grip and brushes with trad. It was dumb.
 

bob meyer

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First of all, there's German, French and the combination of both, American match grips . Then there's traditional L or R grips. I learned traditional but switched to match in the 80's after experiencing wrist, tendon issues. Never went back. Jack DeJohnette is another sterling example of someone who switched for the same reason.
 

Bob Salvati

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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
I learned from my instructor, Tom Search, tradional. My heroes were Paice and Bonham who used matched. So, I tried it. What a difference. My doubles were smooth and I had more power. Don’t know why. That was in 1969 and to this day I play matched.
 

Pedal_Pusher

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I am working on incorporating Quadra Grip by Michael Welch of Florida for some of my drum set playing (on a four piece bop kit with added Yamaha pedal tunable floor toms on both sides). It might also come in handy for multiple percussion or pit gigs. I discovered this though research on Tommy Thomas. Other than that I use traditional grip on drum set except for Latins and those Sing Sing Sing type floor tom numbers.
 

Danzgroove

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There are no advantages to either grip. It’s the same with guitarists choice. Pick or no pick. I grew up traditional, because my teacher was a drum a bugle Corp guy. I switched up because Ringo, Bonham were match grip. I can’t stand when people quote the Buddy interview where he says ‘you can’t get around the toms and play as good with match grip’ complete not true. Hypocritical really considering Krupa and rich switched up often.
It’s all about what you’re comfortable with. All this said...If I do a session that’s jazz, I’ll play with the traditional most of the time.
 

jaymandude

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I will say traditional grip feels more natural for me at the pad. Live playing? Not so much. I feel so much better playing rudiments trad.
Same. But that might be history and muscle memory. I’m trying to get my matched to swing the same way. It doesn’t want to :)
 

Matched Gripper

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The short answer is there is no practical reason to play traditional grip, unless you are playing a drum with strap. If you were designing a car, you would not design the left front wheel at angle unless there was a specific purpose.

I started studying drums in 1972 and was taught traditional grip. However, I started also playing timpani and mallet keys and it made no sense to me that I would switch back and forth.

Yes, Vinnie and Buddy(RIP) play/played match grip. But let’s face it, they are wonderful freaks of nature.

I use both grips and never think about which one to use. It just happens. If I had a chance to go back in time to the younger me, I would definitely focus on match grip and I would play the kit open handed like Cobham, White, Phillips and Beauford.
Cobham is a bit of an enigma. A lefty playing on a righty kit with matched
and traditional grips.

 

therabbi

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Just examine the evidence.

It is a generic fallacy to conclude because we know the origins of how a grip developed to then make claims about it’s effectiveness based solely on that.

There are reasons the best drummers in the world use traditional grip. Matched grip is not
“New”

Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich(as well as their influences) knew and used matched. They chose traditional grip because of what they could do with it.

I have yet to see a matched grip player match the fluidity, ease and sound that has been accomplished with traditional(It is frankly quite difficult to play fluid,graceful double strokes with matched)

Where is our matched grip Buddy rich?

If matched is so much easier..... should we not be much further along by now? Let’s see someone simply sit behind a four piece..... Without double or triple pedals, x hats, multiple cymbal stacks and 6 cymbals and see what they can do with German, American or French matched grips.

I think I know where I would place my bets.
 

poco rit.

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I use both depending on if I’m wearing my hulk hands.
 

Corbin L Douthitt

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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
German works best on the kit. OBTW- Buddy Rich, Gene Krupa, Louie Bellson, and most of the old Greats- played Trad grip. If a drummer STARTS on the kit- German is most likely how they start. I started rad in '58. but my German grip is weak. I CAN do the rudiments but they are sloppy. but at my age I am not worried about it until I can't hold the stick in Trad anymore..
 


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