Stick it to the drum!

Drumming involves continuous hitting with your drumsticks.

But that leads to fatigue and muscle aches…

So how can you create the best riffs AND sustain your playing over longer periods?

The key is in the way you hold your sticks.

There are several ways to grip your drumsticks.

In this article, we’ll explore:

  • How to decide how to grip your sticks
  • 2 main grips that drummers use
    • Traditional Grip
    • Open Grip aka Matched Grip

How to decide how to grip your sticks

Simple, ask yourself; ‘what type of music do I play?’.

Each type of grip provides different advantages and disadvantages for the drummer.

You would have noticed that Jazz drummers tend to prefer the traditional grip, while Rock drummers prefer the open grip.

As new drummers, we should be open to trying different grips in order to find the one that we are comfortable with. Once you have decided on the grip that is suitable for you, stick to it during your practice sessions for efficient practice.

With all that said, get your first pair of drumsticks and start learning to drum: Here’s my review of the best drumsticks for beginners

Of course, not all jazz drummers use the traditional grip.

Ultimately, you should consider these 3 points when deciding on your grip:

  • Comfort
  • Ease of play
  • Style of play

#1 – Traditional grip

Traditional Grip Drumsticks
By Jazeen Hollings – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, 

The traditional grip sees the drummer holding one stick with the palm facing up and the other stick with the palm facing down.

For most right handed individuals, you’ll grip the left drumstick with your palm facing upwards.

This hand is mostly responsible for delivering beats on the snare drums. (And occasionally the hi-hat)

You will grip the right drumsticks with the palm facing downwards.

The traditional grip gives the drummer more speed with the left hand across the drum kit, but less strength can be applied when hitting the drum kit.

Hence, this type of grip is mostly used by jazz drummers and drummers who play softer styles of music.

How to grip the left drumstick

The traditional grip may not feel natural to new drummers. Especially when trying the grip the left drumstick and trying to go fast on your non-dominant hand.

But, I promise, once you get the hang of it, you’ll feel the boost in speed!

traditional-grip-left

Let the drumstick rest between your thumb and index finger, support it using your fourth finger. When playing, release the stick from the fourth finger and let it bounce on the drum / practice pad. Catch the stick as it rebounces.

Time for practice, practice and more practice!

But!

Most new drummers would start learning the drums using the matched grip as it is a more natural way of holding the drumsticks.

#2 – Matched grip

also known as the open grip.

Matched Grip Drumsticks
By Jazeen Hollings – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

The matched grip sees the drummer holding both sticks the same way – palms facing down.

The match grip allows the drummer to hit the drums with greater strength and is commonly used by rock and heavy music drummers.

Matched Grip Variations

Although it looks simple, there are a couple of variations to the matched grip.

Again, if you are still looking for the best way to grip your drumsticks, remember the 3 considerations as mentioned above.

German Grip

german grip

Using the German grip, drumsticks are held with the palms facing downwards, parallel to the drum surface. This for of grip allows for powerful drumming.

French Grip

french grip

With the French grip, the drumsticks are held with the palms facing each other.

The fingers are used to control the drumsticks.

This grip is not commonly used by pop or rock drummers.

American Grip

american grip

The American grip is in between the German and French grips. This feel most natural to me.

The drumsticks are held with the palms facing inwards at a 45 degree angle. (Hence, it is in between the French and German grips)

It gives the drummer both the power characteristic of the German grip as well as control of the French grip.

Here’s a comparison of the 3 drumstick grips:

drumsticks grip comparisons full
Focus on the hands!

It is no use to know all these concepts without putting them into practice.

Let’s improve together, drummers!.


6 thoughts on “How to grip your drumsticks”

  1. Hi There
    Thanks for an informative article. Despite the fact that I’ve been playing drums for over 10 years now, I still learnt something about good drumstick technique and grip. For those just starting out on the drums, would you recommend a looser or a tighter grip? I always teach beginners to grip tightly first so they can learn to control the stick. Once they’ve done that, they can explore with looser grips.

    1. Hey Justin,
      I’m glad you found this article useful 🙂
      I don’t teach drumming, but when my friends ask for advice on their grip, I usually tell them to hold it loosely instead.

      I find that when you tell a beginner drummer to grip tightly, they tend to over do it. This leads to inability to rebound their sticks properly, hitting the drums using brute force and a series of ‘bad’ habits :S

      Conversely, when I tell them to hold the drumsticks loosely, they’ll be more conscious of the sticks in their hands (probably the fear of dropping the sticks), and this tend to lead to better grip instinctively.

      Not sure what a pro drum educator would say, that’s just my experience thus far 🙂

  2. Hey 🙂 I really like this post and I would like to use the pictures with the grip types in a presentation at my university. The problem is that I have to make an illustration directory at the end of the presentation. I`ve searched on the whole website for your second name, because I need it to complete the illustration directory, but I actually haven`t found it. Even if it sounds a bit strange, I would be glad to get an answer because the pictures are probably one of the best I`ve found about grip types. Kind regards from Germany, Lasse

    1. Hey there Lasse,
      my second name would be Lauren 🙂

      Would greatly appreciate it if you’d credit our site too, cheers!

  3. I’m a geezer & just started trying to play the drums. I didn’t know which grip to use. Most of my favorite drummers use the open grip. I tried the traditional grip, & it just felt better to me. I don’t know what advantages/disadvantages it has in the long run, but I figure I’m going to try sticking (no pun intended) to the traditional grip & see how it goes. It certainly looks cooler, & it feels a little more relaxed. I’ll be the only person I personally know using that grip.

    1. Truth be told, I’ll be the first to agree that the best grip for any drummer is the most comfortable grip. Although it would do no harm to learn the various other types of grips in order to become a versatile drummer.

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