How to Hold Drum Sticks: Choose the Perfect Grip

Probably everyone who has taken the drumsticks in their hands for the first time asked themselves questions, like “where to start? How to strike the drum head? How should I sit? Why am I not immediately good at it?” And there is one answer — learning takes some time. So let’s start your drumming practice at the very beginning: how to hold drum sticks.

The various techniques and theories of drumming that have evolved over the years, types of drum stick grips, in particular, are the result of generations of trial and error. They offer musicians countless ways to hone their skills. This article will answer the question about the proper way to hold drum sticks by providing information about some of the basic and most common types of drum stick grips.

Types of Drum Stick Grips

Depending on the style of music being played, drummers use different types of stick grips. Many performers, mostly among the professionals, can even use several techniques in one song. So, basically, there are two types: traditional and match grips.

Match drumstick grip

Matched grip technique is the most common option. It’s called matched since both of your hands hold the drumstick in the same way. So this is how to hold drum sticks matched grip: you have to hold the stick between your thumb and forefinger. Use medium force so that there isn’t strong muscle tension. Grasp the stick lightly with the remaining fingers. There should be a gap between the thumb and forefinger, which indicates that the hand is relaxed.

There are several types of match drumstick grip: German, French, and American.

1. German grip

The German grip is a type of drumsticks grips in which the palms are facing downward. The main striking movement combines finger action equally with upward and downward flexion of the wrist. It is mainly used by drummers who play in symphony orchestras. With this grip, the hand moves freely up and down, making it easy to play rudiments with different dynamics. Due to the active involvement of the internal muscles of the forearm used in this technique for the sharp movement of the wrist, this grip is often considered to provide a more powerful strike.

german drumstick grip

2. French grip

The French grip drumming is a type in which the thumb is on top of the stick, and the palm is almost perpendicular to the floor. It was invented for the convenience of playing the timpani. This type of grip is great for singles on cymbals, where, unlike drum heads, the bounce is too bad.

french drumstick grip

3. American grip

The American grip drumming is a type of holding the drumsticks in which you need to keep the sticks at about 45-60 degree angle to each other. Such a type of grip makes it easier to move your hands around the drum kit while maintaining the power of your playing.

american drumstick grip

4. Traditional drumstick grip

This type of grip was originally used by military drummers to keep the drum strap out of the way when playing standing. This is a classic jazz grip. So how to hold drumsticks in the traditional grip?

Your stronger hand should hold the stick just like when using the symmetrical grip. Your weaker hand should bend at the elbow and open; then, the stick is placed between the thumb and forefinger. Next, place the forefinger with the upper joint on the stick from above, and stretch the middle finger from above directly along with the stick. The fourth finger serves as a support for the stick.

traditional drumstick grip

FAQ on How to Hold Drum Sticks

The beginners often ask me lots of questions considering drumstick grips. I have gathered the most popular ones here.

What is the proper way to hold a drum stick?

There is no universal way to hold a drum stick. However, there are different types of drumstick grips. The most common ones are traditional and match types. The match type includes German, French, and American grips.

Why do drummers hold their sticks differently?

The way you hold your drumsticks influences and changes the sound. Therefore, different types of grips exist. For example, the German grip usually provides a more powerful strike, while the French one is mostly used for singles on cymbals because of their bounce being not that good.

How do you hold drum sticks in a rock band?

There is no exact way of holding sticks as a rock band drummer. All of the drummers use different types of drumstick grips depending on the music they play.

rock drumming

How do drummers twirl their sticks?

There are few ways to spin the drum stick. The easiest and most popular one is to put the middle part of the stick between the index and middle fingers. Then move your forefinger away from you and the middle one toward you. This will help to twirl a drum stick.

Practice Your Grips Easily

There are lots of ways to hold the drumsticks. The basic types of gripping are a match and a traditional drumstick. The match grip includes German, American, French, and some more variations, which are less popular. Now that you know all about the most common types of grips, you can easily practice and choose the grip that suits you better.

What grip do you prefer? Has it been mentioned here? Share your experience with playing drums in the comments section, and ask your questions if you have some.

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