May 24

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EASY 🥁 How to hold drumsticks properly [2022]

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Good morning, and thanks a lot for joining me on Midnightdrummer.com today!

Have you asked yourself how to hold drumsticks properly?

That's one of the most frequent questions students ask me at the very beginning of their drumming career.

And the answer to that question is really important! 

In this blog post, I will show you 4 different ways on how to hold drumsticks correctly, and I will try to explain the main advantages & disadvantages of each single technique.

Sounds interesting?

Here are the contents of this tutorial:

How to hold drumsticks properly

When practicing drum rudiments like the single stroke roll, paradiddles or double strokes, or any drum technique in general, a correct way of holding your drumsticks is crucial.

Why?

When playing drums, your drumsticks become the extensions of your arms, hands, and fingers.

All these body parts should contribute to your drum technique the best way possible. 

That's why holding your drumsticks properly is the foundation of any drum set technique you are about to practice.

A proper coordination of your arms, forearms, wrists, and fingers becomes much easier with the right grip.

Holding your sticks correctly leads to a more harmonic way of playing drums, and thus to a more balanced sound, which we all want to achieve.

Right?

Basically, there are 4 common ways of holding drumsticks properly, which I will explain in the following paragraphs.

Here they are: 

#1 Traditional Grip

The Traditional Grip was developed in military drumming a long time ago.

The military drummers used to carry the drum on the left side of their bodies. This way, they were still able to march forward without stumbling over their feet.

In particular, this was very useful when marching on broken ground like battlefields.

Video #1

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Holding the left drum stick “the traditional way” was a necessity to being able to hit the drum head properly and relieve the drummer's left arm.

This technique demands a rotational movement in the left forearm / wrist. This is the main difference in comparison to the following techniques.  

In the following video, world-class drummer Thomas Lang explains the development of the Traditional Grip in more detail.

Video #2

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How do you do a Traditional Grip?

When applying the Traditional Grip to your left-hand drumstick, you need to put it right between the thumb and your middle finger. This way, the Traditional Grip can be played easily and relaxed.

This is how you do a traditional grip

Traditional Grip

Why is Traditional Grip better?

The Traditional Grip isn't better than any other way of holding your drumsticks. It's just another technique which has its pros and cons. The main advantage of the Traditional Grip, is a shorter contact time with the drum head or cymbal when played properly. This leads to a more open and airy sound of the drums and the cymbals and is more difficult to achieve, when using other techniques.

Applying the Traditional Grip on a drum set

A reasonable question is, if it then makes sense to use the Traditional Grip when playing on a drum set.

The answer is:

Yes & no!

Since, there's no necessity to relieve the left arm when playing on a conventional drum set (in opposite to marching and playing on a battle terrain), the Traditional Grip isn't used very much these days.

Contra

The Traditional Grip doesn't allow as much mobility and the reach of the left hand is more limited compared to one of the following grips.

Pro

The sound of the drums and cymbals does also depend on the time the tip of a drumstick remains on the surface of the drum head.

Using the Traditional Grip helps to pull the tip of the stick out of the drum / cymbal immediately after the stroke, and therefore gain a more open and airy sound without too much practice.

This is more difficult to achieve using any of the following grips.

#2 French Grip

Let's continue with the French Grip.

What is a French Grip?

The French Grip is a technique which mainly engages your fingers while playing drums. When holding the drumsticks using this grip, both hand-palms are facing each other while the thumbs are being placed on top of the sticks.
Applying the French Grip allows drummers to play fast, but accents are difficult to play.

This is how you hold your drumsticks to do a french grip

French Grip

#3 German Grip

The German Grip is quite the opposite of the French Grip and makes use of the drummer's wrists to move the drumsticks. This technique allows playing great accents, while speed is rather limited in comparison to other ways of holding the drumsticks.

This is the German Grip drum technique

German Grip

#4 Matched Grip

What is Matched Grip drumming?

The Matched Grip is a mixture of the French Grip and the German Grip. Applying this drumming technique to the drum set allows your wrists and fingers to be used at the same time.
This way higher speed and playing accents can be played properly.

This is the Matched Grip drumming technique

Matched Grip drumming

Is Traditional or Matched Grip better?

Neither the Traditional nor the Matched Grip is per se better than the other. Both ways of holding drumsticks come with advantages and disadvantages.

The main advantages of the Matched Grip are:

  • Great range of motion
  • Ideal for playing on the drum set
  • It's probably the most natural way of holding drumsticks

The main advantages of the Traditional Grip are:

  • Allows short contact time with drum head or cymbal and can lead to a more open and airy drum- and cymbal sound
  • Ideal for playing on a marching drum

Which grip is your favorite hand technique?

Finally, I would like to ask which of these hand techniques your favorite is.

Maybe you love Jazz Music and your favorite way of playing drums is using the Traditional Grip?

Are you more into Rock- and pop music and all you learned so far is the Matched Grip?

Please let me know in the comments below what way of holding the drumsticks is your favorite.

Talk soon and enjoy playing drums!

Keno Hellmann

Keno is a professional drummer & blogger from Hamburg, Germany.
In his career, he played drums for prominent artists like Elton John and popular German bands like Rosenstolz, Big Soul and others.
Since 2004 he's also teaching drums to students of all age-groups from beginners to advanced and semi-professional drummers.

He loves kitesurfing in Germany's North Sea & Egypt's Red Sea, cooking, and he is a big supporter of the HSV football team.

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