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What Is Traditional Grip for Drumming?

Learn about traditional grip, a technique to hold drumsticks, from drum teacher Jason Gianni in this Howcast drum video.


There are often a lot of questions about whether you should hold the drum sticks with match grip or traditional grip. And I think it's a valid question, but you should do some research on why they are held a certain way. First of all, match grip is exactly what it says, where your hands are holding the sticks in almost a sort of a triangle setup and they match each other, whereas traditional grip, and you may have seen it, is the weaker hand or left hand, depending on what type of drummer you are, is holding the stick in this way.

Historically, drummers started holding the sticks with traditional grip and the reason was because especially in the military days before the drum set was created, they would hold the drum on a strap, and because the angle of the drum, they couldn't physically get to the drum this way, so they flipped the stick around and held it this way. As time went on and in the early days of the drum set, a lot of early drum set players were coming out of the military still holding the stick with traditional grip. What they would do is that they would tilt the snare drum away from them, just as if it were on a strap, and they would still play the drum with traditional grip.

That's why you hear a lot of jazz drummers or see a lot of jazz drummers still playing grip to this day because jazz is a very historic style when it comes to the beginning of the drum set. So a lot of jazz drummers are still carrying on that tradition by playing traditional grip. If you wanna start playing traditional grip, the best place to start is just to begin with your hand almost flat like this and separate these two fingers. If you lay the stick right on the first knuckle or between the two knuckles of this finger, and these fingers cross over the top, and you hold the stick in this area of the joint, you have what is traditional grip. And it's a motion that involves away from the arm and your palm roughly facing toward you, depending on which traditional grip you wanna use. Some people flatten their hand a little bit, some people hold it like this, depends on what you're looking for.

Most beginning drummers today are learning with match grip. However, if you feel the need to really study a lot of jazz, maybe the way to go is to get better with traditional grip to carry on that tradition, but I suggest to really use the snare tilted away from you to really maximize the motion, the sound, and the control of the traditional grip.

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