Traditional grip or German?

JimmySticks

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I don’t know, the thought of Buddy Rich playing matched grip for all those years just doesn’t compute in my brain. I can’t even picture how different drumming would have been had he played matched.

Some things are better left alone...
 

Seb77

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I don’t know, the thought of Buddy Rich playing matched grip for all those years just doesn’t compute in my brain. I can’t even picture how different drumming would have been had he played matched.

Some things are better left alone...
Yeah, just the thought of Buddy being "even better" doesn't come easily :D
..................

Superior? I tell you what's superior: a better drummer. No matter what grip he/she plays.

I started out playing classical piano. Then I learned classical snare drum, in matched. Then learned timpani, xylophone, drumset, mostly jazz. At the same time, I played keybaords in a ska band. Are drums better than keys?

Much later, I decided to also learn trad grip. I was able to play "some "things better that way. Different dynamics due to different arm /stick angle.

So, I'd say it all has its place. Practice time? It's all a matter of priorities (I'm not a master practitioner (does this word fit here?))

Few years ago, I learned to play electric bass, in rock /blues contexts (has to do with me becoming a general music teacher). Pick or fingers? 4- or 5-string? Stupid internet discussions. Who would spend their time in rela life arging about things like that?
Next up is acoustic (Western) guitar, chords, strumming, then picking. What's better, strumming or picking? Ridiculous discussions.

Let's get back to work. You won't change anyone, you can only change yourself.
 

hardbat

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I played 90% trad grip all my life, and about 75% of my students learned trad grip. Today if I were to teach again, I'd recommend matched, because I can't think of any situation anymore that demands trad grip - even the vast majority of marching settings use matched.

Having said that, I have no plans to switch. And I'm not worried about injury, I don't play but a fraction of the number of hours that Dave Weckl surely does, and most of my playing is relatively quiet. In my 50 years of drumming, I've never met anyone who was injured by trad grip, the incidence is probably extremely low.

Logic does indicate that matched is probably more natural -- HOWEVER, the statement that non-drummers always pick up sticks in matched is not always true... a lot of people grab the sticks in a manner that more closely approximates trad grip (in both hands), I've seen it many times. Admittedly that is less common.

What I find interesting is just how totally different the two grips are. Not just the arm/wrist movement... everything. The basic fulcrum is totally different. One is at the base of the thumb, with the thumb, the other is between the tip of the thumb and the joint of the index finger. The relationship between the other fingers and the stick is totally different. The direction that the sticks are pointing is totally different (matched points straight ahead, trad points left to right). Where the fulcrum falls on the stick is different - so the effective length of the stick is different. How the fingers initiate and stop the rebound is entirely different. Nearly every detail is different.

Therefore, it surprises me even more that drummers do essentially the exact same things with either grip. One would expect that with so many differences, we'd be talking about what one can do with one grip versus the other. But really, the differences are so minor that it is debatable whether there are any at all. There should be more differences, but in reality it seems to all come down to what you practiced as a kid.
 

icebone

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I find with matched grip the biggest misunderstanding is the balance point. In french its usually thumb and first finger. In overhand or german you can make the balance point between thumb and second finger. Also waiting down and parallel is something many matched players do not seem to care about. Cheers
 

piccupstix

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I'm a matched player almost always (again, brushes feel better trad). Sometimes I get up in the morning and feel like practicing traditional. I become the greatest trad player that ever played. Hardly a problem. I'm flying and it feels great! It looks great!! Extra points if catching reflection in the mirror. Then, later at the gig I've still got that feeling, but almost immediately I switch back to matched...and ask myself what was I thinking?

And another thing...I find it's usually easier to rattle off rudiments when watching TV or sitting shotgun in the car, or legs crossed sitting in a chair using trad rather than w/matched, just more comfortable.
 
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hsosdrum

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Reverse matched is butt end out in left.
I've been playing a mix of trad and matched with butt out* on the left for 50 years. The switch from trad to that is much easier for me than the switch from trad to matched with the tip out.

*OK all you wise guys, leave that straight line alone. ;)
 

beto_drummer

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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.
Yeah!
I don't play traditional grip.
I would say that I almost naturally hold the stick using the "AMERICAN" grip. I feel more confortable with it, to me is like more versatile... it's like having (at some point) the best of german and french. I feel I have more control than in the german... and the french it feels unconfortable to me.
My 2 cents.
 

lrod1707

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You know, I'm glad this thread came up. I had never really analyzed my grip till today. I always just did what felt natural and comfortable. I thought I was always in the realm of American matched and I discovered today that I'm not. My right hand is generally French and my left hand German when I'm playing on the right side of the kit. When I'm on the left side of the kit, my right hand is German and my left hand is American. Weird!
 
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DavedrumsTX

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I played 90% trad grip all my life, and about 75% of my students learned trad grip. Today if I were to teach again, I'd recommend matched, because I can't think of any situation anymore that demands trad grip - even the vast majority of marching settings use matched.

Having said that, I have no plans to switch. And I'm not worried about injury, I don't play but a fraction of the number of hours that Dave Weckl surely does, and most of my playing is relatively quiet. In my 50 years of drumming, I've never met anyone who was injured by trad grip, the incidence is probably extremely low.

Logic does indicate that matched is probably more natural -- HOWEVER, the statement that non-drummers always pick up sticks in matched is not always true... a lot of people grab the sticks in a manner that more closely approximates trad grip (in both hands), I've seen it many times. Admittedly that is less common.

What I find interesting is just how totally different the two grips are. Not just the arm/wrist movement... everything. The basic fulcrum is totally different. One is at the base of the thumb, with the thumb, the other is between the tip of the thumb and the joint of the index finger. The relationship between the other fingers and the stick is totally different. The direction that the sticks are pointing is totally different (matched points straight ahead, trad points left to right). Where the fulcrum falls on the stick is different - so the effective length of the stick is different. How the fingers initiate and stop the rebound is entirely different. Nearly every detail is different.

Therefore, it surprises me even more that drummers do essentially the exact same things with either grip. One would expect that with so many differences, we'd be talking about what one can do with one grip versus the other. But really, the differences are so minor that it is debatable whether there are any at all. There should be more differences, but in reality it seems to all come down to what you practiced as a kid.
At the end of the day, just play whatever grip works best for you and focus on making the best music you can. That’s all that matters.
 

Peano

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Yeah, just the thought of Buddy being "even better" doesn't come easily :D
..................
... or Steve Ferrone
or Gene Krupa
or Joe Morello
or Tony Williams
or Art Blakey
or Louis Bellson
or Clyde Stubblefield
or Hal Blaine
or Jo Jones
or Steve Gadd
or Roy Haynes
or Elvin Jones
or Philly Joe Jones
etc ... etc ... etc ...
 

cornelius

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You know, I'm glad this thread came up. I had never really analyzed my grip till today. I always just did what felt natural and comfortable. I thought I was always in the realm of American matched and I discovered today that I'm not. My right hand is generally French and my left hand German when I'm playing on the right side of the kit. When I'm on the left side of the kit, my right hand is German and my left hand is American. Weird!
That's the thing with grip - In the end you adapt to what you need in the moment. A lot of players think French is only a first finger fulcrum grip for playing softly. That could be part of it, but more importantly, French can be German with your wrists turned inward and your sticks parallel. I often use French with a middle finger fulcrum and it's more versatile than one would usually think.

Isolating and understanding the 3 main different grips helped me transition from trad grip. If you add up German/French/American, and combine at least three different basic fulcrums, my left hand went from one grip to nine.
 

zeichner

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I learned matched in 1972. Switched to traditional in 1973-74 to get a snare spot in the local drum corps. The line switched to matched in 1975 & then switched back before the end of the season. When I left drum corps, I continued to play traditional on snare & drumset. In college, I switched back & forth several times, but when I joined the Army band, I pretty much stuck to traditional. My right hand was palm down, with the fulcrum on my first finger. Some time in the late 1980s I started turning the palm of my right hand to the side with the thumb on top, which helped to improve my finger control on that hand. In late 2019, I started playing around with Moeller technique & ended up switching my fulcrum to the middle finger. In January of 2020, after studying linear drumming for a few months, I started asking myself why I needed to hit the hi hat primarily with my right hand. Crossing my hands to play hi hat had always been slightly problematical, as there are bound to be times when my right hand is coming down when my left hand is coming up. Traditional grip helps some in that situation, as the fulcrums & hand positions are different. Ultimately, I decided to try switching back to matched grip so I could strike the hi hat more easily with my left hand. Now I play open-handed with matched grip. My version of matched is rather fluid, my palm turning down or to the side depending on where my arm is. If I'm playing right in front of me, my palms are down & if I have to reach to the side, my palm turns in with my thumb on top.

Most of the changes I've made to my technique over the years came about because I felt they made it easier for me to interpret the music. But regardless of all the changes I have made, I think it comes down to what works for each individual. There are many drummers who have made careers & recorded with top musicians, who play incredible things with "bad" technique.
 

jaymandude

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That's the thing with grip - In the end you adapt to what you need in the moment. A lot of players think French is only a first finger fulcrum grip for playing softly. That could be part of it, but more importantly, French can be German with your wrists turned inward and your sticks parallel. I often use French with a middle finger fulcrum and it's more versatile than one would usually think.

Isolating and understanding the 3 main different grips helped me transition from trad grip. If you add up German/French/American, and combine at least three different basic fulcrums, my left hand went from one grip to nine.
Yup. This ^ . That’s why I don’t really get involved in grip discussions.
The idea that if you play matched you play “one” grip is pretty inaccurate. If you’re actually playing a gig you probably utilize a number of hand positions and wrist/finger combinations in the course of the night, or even one song.

One of my most mind blowing lessons was with Chris Lamb from the NY Philharmonic. He is a MONSTER classical percussionist. I went to ask him for help transitioning from traditional to matched. We ended up not talking about hands and grip at all, and talked about music and expression and making the notes come alive and have life and meaning and shape. For 6 looooong lessons, not ONCE did we talk about grip, hands, moeller, french,, german. Nada. He literally did not care how I played the drum, just wanted the music. How I got there was up to me. Like I said, life changing...
 
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Sammybear

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I recall a roundtable discussion (on YouTube somewhere-maybe Musician's Institute?) with some well known drummers who discussed this very issue-matched vs. traditional. Joe Porcarro, who plays traditional, was in the group. He said that if he had to do it all over again he would teach and play matched grip. Interesting that his son, Jeff, played match grip exclusively and never had any angst about playing traditional. Matched grip, full stop, full speed ahead. I'd say Jeff was pretty good at playing ghost notes, not to mention a pretty fair drummer. In looking back, Joe probably figured out there were more compelling reasons to play matched, least among them were ergonomics, long term physicality, his son played successfully that way, etc. Either way, in the end, play whichever way puts a smile on your face and best serves the music/band. Switch it around or play exclusively one way or the other...there's no right or wrong. In discussing this, certain facts emerge and you have to discern what's best for you, based upon your own circumstances and predilections. It's all good!
 

dark energy

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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.
Who says anything to do with music makes 'common sense'? :)
 

JDA

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I still go back to the very first article Modern Drummer did on the issue (not the second time or third time they delved into it.) Maybe Scott K. Fish could recall it.
7 muscles were utilized in the Trad Grip up/down/up stroke. 11 were involved in the Matched Grip up/down/up.

That's the difference everyone is "feeling" arguing or whatever-ing about..
muscle-motions maybe it was (no one grew any extra more or less muscles)

So that's the deal. "weaker" (less muscle usage) in one hand, can be viewed either as "lighter hence quicker" in combination with a strong hand or "dumb and stupid" and weak and stupid.
 

dana bag of donuts

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being a lefty,on a right hand kit makes traditional super awkward and uncomfortable.
trad also seems to limit the amount of power on tap if needed.each to their own though.
 


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