When did people stop playing butt end on snare ?


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Jul 1, 2015
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The first thing I noticed about Tony Allen back in the day was that he almost always played butt end, which I guess allowed him more economy of motion to get his light, fluid snare touch.
Just let the mass and weight of the stick do the work.

David M Scott

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Apr 5, 2020
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So what is the time line on this ? All thru the 70’s and even into the 80’s most of the name guys played the butt end on the snare for a fatter sound. And definitely on the cross stick. But I see SO many drummers playing tip end out cross stick ( it sounds terrible to me ) and hardly anyone playing the drum with a reversed stick.

what happened? Bigger sticks ? Recording? Folks don’t care as much ?
Hey I’ve been playing 65 years and have seen equipment and styles come and go just like clothing styles. (Please don’t bring up 70s clothing and hair ) Previous to the late 60s we played our drums, usually
4 piece kits, with wide open sound..no muting at all.
Then, i’m guessing because recording and the engineers really became professional, all type of muting took place and drum kits, by then 5/6 piece and up kits with multi cymbals were the norm. Thus that fat 70s sound emerged.
Some drums were so muted one had to hit hard to get projection so it was common to use the but end of the stick, especially on the left hand (I know, I know..right for South Paws)
Now it seems many drummers are going back to
smaller, even compact kits,
myself included, with sensitive snare drums and wide open sound. That’s only my theory.


DFO Master
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Sep 6, 2017
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Butt end out does sound stronger, but on some snare with die-cast hoops, cross rim sound is almost too loud, so I might still play tip-out.
This is true.

Old Drummer

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Jan 14, 2019
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Every once in awhile I find myself accidentally holding my left stick backwards. You'd think after all these years I'd feel the weight/balance difference, but I guess I don't always feel it fast. I haven't though intentionally done this since my hard rock days.

The cross stick issue interests me. In the past, I always played cross stick backwards because it just didn't sound right to play it normal. Now, though, I don't find a difference in the sound and don't bother. Maybe it's a different snare or different head, but it puzzles me that it used to matter a lot and now doesn't.

I must add that in my opinion the exact positioning of the stick when playing cross stick makes a huge difference. If you're off 1/2 inch, it doesn't sound right to me. I also notice in the demo videos of the Memphis Drum Shop and others that, again in my opinion, the drummers are often off more than 1/2 inch. I want to scream at them to move the stick a little to get the right cross stick sound, but apparently they believe they're doing it right.


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Dec 31, 2008
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Fort Stinkindesert, NM
it's the only way I'll play ..matched.
plus the flip from trad to matched lines up in one easy move
i tagged it the Purdie grip (because he couldn't remember what it was called in an MD interview)
no one else had a name for it "butt-end out" so Purdie grip it is.
I wish I could do both tips out matched but I musta skipped that mindset (and I feel 'weak'..light...(my problem).
actually age 17-20 I played both tips out..then as soon as I began to utilize trad grip my matched changed to butt end out..but I don't remember me exactly back then in those early years..I didn't think about it I didn't think about grip.

(both tips out matched also leans pushes me towards left hand lead and I don't want to go there either)
so I'm a staunch "purdie grip" matched player.
Me, too. Play traditional, easy flip to butt end matched when I want.
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Oct 7, 2011
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Detroit, MI
I play butt end of my sticks, both of them, all of the time. Its a weight thing and a fatter sound to me.
Same for me.
I just LIKE the sound and feel of the sticks with the front being heavier. I've also have custom sticks made for about the last 20 years, and they are made for different feels and sounds depending on what I am doing--so that does help haha.

I started on just a pad, and then a snare drum, and taking lessons. I also started with TG in school band (& lessons), learned all the rudiments etc... I had a bunch of teachers and even 3 different female teachers that played in concert and marching bands--which was kinda different in the 70's. I thought it was cool, besides, my Grandmother was a touring drummer in the 20's so, female drummers weren't ever an "oddity" to me.

Anyway, since I can control the dynamics and sounds of the sticks, I really dig the type of bounce I get with the butt ends out.
Also, using the sticks this way, I've obviously never cared about having a "ting ting ting" sounding ride cymbal haha. I've also never gotten any negative comments about the sound coming off of my cymbals or drums from anyone (band members, recording or FOH people, etc...).

NOT for everyone, of course, but it's what I like.


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May 29, 2019
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Cohoes, NY
The last drummer I had known (and seen) to be a Butt-end player was
Anthony Martinez (late Black Flag, early Pigmy Love Circus, circa early 90s)...
he played butt-end with the butts in Both hands.
Dude was always a solid and hard drummer; and something about playing
the butt ends made him sound so tight in the groove, he barely was off timing.

I play the butt ends just once in a while IF I remember to do so.
So many times I have said to myself "today I'm gonna play butt-ends" but when
I'm at rehearsal I often forget to play the butt ends of my sticks.
I don't care about the Pros and Cons of playing butt ends, I just want what feels good
and sounds good to me; and I don't expect to do anything fancy or technical
at the butt end that is traditionally done at the tip end.
I get volume and power from the butt ends without having to exert myself,
and with the broader end of the butt I can get more tone out of larger toms.

I have one pair of synthetic fiber sticks that were manufactured by Mainline.
(pictured below)
The sticks had black nylon tips, played so awesome, and they sound so good.
I still have the same pair that I bought from the manufacturer over 23 years ago.
Their nylon tips had finally fallen off, and so I filed the tapered ends
rounded smooth... they play good as new, they feel like butt ends, they sound deep
on my toms, they rim-shot and cross-stick excellent on my snare, and they ping
loud and articulately on my ride bell.
So, this pair is reserved as my Butt sticks when I'm low on sticks.
I also whip them out whenever my band is in the mood to play deliberately louder than usual.
I can't remember when Mainline went out of business, and now I can't find
synthetic sticks like these anywhere.


Rock Salad

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Aug 6, 2018
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Tulsa, Ok. USA
It makes a bigger difference in timbre at lower volumes I think. Playing the back beat as the second stroke of a double- a la Stubblefield, Allen, Purdie et al- is much easier butt end out for me.
Cross sticking just has different sounds available by flipping the sick, playing feels really similar either way to me, but I'm partial to the normal, bead on the head sound.