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Traditional/Matched Grip Discussion

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  • Traditional/Matched Grip Discussion

    My parents were always music lovers. Although they were not musicians, they did love to dance and frequented many dance halls. Naturally, the music popular with them was swing. Since early childhood, it's been the drummer that impressed me the most. I've never psycho-analyzed the reason, but it could be because as a kid, I always loved to make lots of noise and the drummer looked to be doing the same thing with various objects all around him making all sorts of wonderful noise and looking like he was having the time of his life doing it.

    Well, to make a long story even longer, I suppose that when the time came and I decided to play drums, I began with the traditional grip. As time and experience marched on I eventually ended up playing both grips (traditional & matched) as the particular peice called for and was most comfortable to me. Certain moves are awkward using a traditional grip.

    So what is my point in all this? In all of my years, every traditional-grip drummer, also would alternate. But never have I ever seen a matched-grip drummer go traditional.

    Why is this?

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  • #2
    ...every traditional-grip drummer, also would alternate. But never have I ever seen a matched-grip drummer go traditional.

    Why is this?
    I'm 90% traditional grip (TG). When I'm just straight stickin' and need a little more volume or just want to fling my arms wildly (and look cool ), I may go matched grip (MG). I use TG because I took lessons as a kid and that's how I was taught. TG also was much more common in the mid 60's when I took lessons. It is comfortable for me.
    • I'd say MG is more natural.
    • It's easier to get comfortable with.
    • It's more cool looking!
    • If you have taken the time to learn to play rolls and rudiments using MG, what would make you want to switch?


    Why not switch? If all you play is boom, chick, boom, chick and a rat ta tat tat, there would be no reason to switch. If you have gone through the trouble of learning to play rolls and rudiments using MG, again, why would you switch? To look more like Buddy R? Now many may disagree with this, but I've see some professionals switch to TG whenever they were playing the real fast and/or complex stuff. Seems like there is a bit more control with TG. The penalty is a little (or a lot depending on the player) less volume using TG.
    Kit Pic 1 Kit Pic 2 Kit Pic 3... And FOR SALE I have: 3 PD-9's, MDS-10 purple rack w/cables/pad and cym mounts. See classified posts for details or PM me.

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    • #3
      I started learning using just a snare. I played in a martching band, and TG was just what you used. TG started with old HIP martching drums. With the drum at the side of your body, it was impossible to play a matched grip. I changed over for many reasons.....speed, reach, feel and power. MG will give you more. Now if I try and go back to TG, I just can't do it.
      :rolleyes:

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      • #4
        I started playin way back when, also using the TG on a marching snare. These days I'm 90% TG still, as I find it more comfortable for most of what I play (blues, classic rock...) On some songs (like Sympathy for the Devil, and songs using conga toms) I will switch to MG, and I'm trying to use it a bit more to get more comfortable with it. But I like the TG more, and think it's cooler. I guess I'm an old fogey at heart. $^)

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Marc.:
          Why is this?
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          IMHO matched is easier to learn and play for the most part...

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          \oo/_ _\oo/

          [This message has been edited by rus (edited March 29, 2001).]
          \oo/_ :mad: _\oo/

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          • #6
            I'm mached grip 100% for now. Seen a Buddy Rich tape and he plays very fast with TG. It makes me wonder if the structure of the hands lends itself to greater speed with TG. He was doing stuff with his left hand that was amazing. For stick twirling and throwing I find mached grip better suited. I should learn TG as it is a tried tested and true way of holding the sticks. Any tecnique to improve should be learned.

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            • #7
              all 5 grips are important,trad grip is better for jazz and classical,matched for rock....er see stuart copeland

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Zorro:
                For stick twirling and throwing I find mached grip better suited.
                This is important if you are a majorette or perhaps a ninja, but I'm not sure how important it may be in drumming.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Zorro:
                  For stick twirling and throwing I find mached grip better suited.
                  Originally posted by Arriguy:
                  This is important if you are a majorette or perhaps a ninja, but I'm not sure how important it may be in drumming.
                  Never, I repeat, NEVER throw or twirl a stick TG. If you must, be sure and have a medical emergency response team standing by.

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                  -~

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Marc.:
                    Never, I repeat, NEVER throw or twirl a stick TG. If you must, be sure and have a medical emergency response team standing by.

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                    -~
                    No probs with throwing a stick TG ( I play TG ALL the time), but the twirling part... always wear sunglasses when attempting...

                    Stu
                    "Fry that sound effect, Moriarty, we're having it for breakfast"

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                    • #11
                      I've seen awesome drummers play with both grips. Dave Weckl plays traditional grip. I just bought and watched his "How to Practice" video last night. I'm not sure if Dave's performance or Akira (matched grip) Jimbo's on "Independence" (another DCI VHS tape) is more spectacular/technical to watch. I'd probably have to say that Weckl's sounded better musically, though.

                      I started playing matched grip in 86' when I was 15. It was the natural mode to play in. And my drum teacher told me that MG was ideally suited for the drumkit. 'What else would I play?' I thought. A snare drum all by itself?! One can't possibly play 'Tom Sawyer' on a Snare alone!!

                      Omar Hakim describes his 'Better Way' of playing as MG in his "Express Yourself" video. It allowed him to sit up straight, breathe deeper, eliminated his hand calluses and gave him a more balanced setup. I'm glad my teacher didn't stick me w/ TG, even though he used it himself .

                      The Debate: (Copied)

                      Matched or Traditional?

                      This is a tough one!
                      Not only drum set players have to face the dilemma of the correct stick grip. If you have to play Psappha (by Xenakis) you cannot do this with the traditional grip. Did you ever see someone perform I Ching (by NÝrgard)with the traditional grip? It's not possible (unless you want to be taken to the hospital with severe injuries). Also Stravinsky's Soldiers Tale is easier to perform with the Matched grip.
                      The Matched grip (both hands alike) is the most used grip worldwide seen. Almost all percussion playing cultures (e.g. Africa, India, China, Japan, Indonesia, South America) use this grip because there is no need to do it in an other way. It is also the most natural way of playing and it has been in practice for thousands of years.
                      Enter the Traditional grip (seen in the light of the above statement, the Matched grip really should have been named Traditional, because this grip -the matched grip, that is- has been with us all the time!).
                      The Traditional grip came into use when the players started to carry their drum (with the help of some belt) on their body. Usually their left leg. In this position it was very uncomfortable to use the old (matched) grip and players adjusted their grip to this new playing. This happened somewhere between 1300 and 1500 in Europe. This Traditional grip became the standard grip in all military styles of playing and finally was adopted the grip of playing the snare drum. When these very players moved into the jazz scene (around 1880-1900) this grip was used for their (rudimental style) drum set playing.
                      During the years following this period the traditional grip was in use by almost all jazz drummers and also all blues and rock drummers used this grip. The turnaround (back to the matched grip) came with Ringo Starr who influenced so many drummers in the great Beatle era. Before that time a drummer was often measured by his grip: Trad was OK, Matched wasn't! But nowadays even in the drum corps style drumming the Matched grip is widely in use.
                      Both grips have their strong and weak points and both have their own advocates. For the normal Jazz drum set - Snare, 2 toms, 2 cymbals - the Traditional grip is all you need. All instruments are within reach of both hands, although playing time with the left hand (on the left cymbal or hihat) is a serious problem. But in normal playing practice that was almost never done either! When the drum sets in use grew bigger (getting more toms and cymbals) the need for more (and equal) span was obvious and for this reason the Matched grip was (and still is) the perfect solution.
                      In the field of classical percussion setup pieces, players who were trained in the Traditional grip often had to face the problem of performing all kind of pieces in awkward playing positions which could be easily avoided by using the Matched grip. Rapid stick changes, movements over many different instruments (2 bars vibes, 5 bars wood blocs, 1 bar marimba, another bar with marimba by left hand and triangle with right hand....Do you get the idea?) are easier to perform when you can use the same grip for all instruments. For that reason the training of a classical percussion player should focus on the Matched grip.
                      Either grip is equally suited to play any rhythm but Traditional grip is sometimes the only way to perform good sounding brush patterns. On the other hand, I have developed some new brush patterns which are very hard to play with Traditional grip.
                      And then, of course, there is the point of muscle efficiency. In May 1967, Gene Pollart published an extensive article in Percussionist (Vol. 4, number 4) where he compared both grips. You could try the WPN website and search their library to see if this article is available online.
                      The conclusion of Pollart:

                      "...The matched grip involves more coordination of the participating muscles, has more potential power at its disposal to help control the action of movement, and because of its simple movement and more potential power, it will produce more sustained endurance."
                      Aaron Smith ([email protected]) wrote me:


                      This is a popular controversy at Slippery Rock University (where I am attending school.) Everyone has their own view, of course, and here is mine.
                      Traditional grip was created because the drums that the field drummers used were tilted, due to the strap. They discovered no scientific evidence that proved the left hand should do something completely different from the right hand. They didn't pick it because they could play faster, or do cooler visuals, or to be different. They did it because the drums were at an angle, and the easiest way to hit the drum was to screw up your hand so you could strike it level.
                      Today, we are no longer the victims of faulty drum straps. With revolutionary technology, we have discovered a way to make our drums STRAIGHT. You no longer need to turn your hand upside-down to play. I'm sure if the drummers of the 1500's were here, they would go right back to playing matched grip.
                      Some other food for thought. If traditional grip is better, than why don't we use it with BOTH hands? It doesn't make sense to me that what is good for one hand is not good for the other. Since drums are LEVEL now (I'd like to emphasize that) we can use any grip we want. But it only makes sense that both hands should do the same thing, and I haven't seen an advocate of traditional grip yet that did it with both hands.
                      I've also heard that traditional grip is better because there are things you can do with it that you can't do with matched. I would agree with this - however, I would point out that you can hold your sticks any number of strange ways and do things you could never do with matched grip, or traditional either, for that matter.
                      To me, it is obvious that matched grip is the easiest way to learn and should be the standard everywhere. If you want to hold your sticks funny later, go right ahead. But learn to play the drum first.
                      Dave Moadel wrote:
                      Reasons why I believe matched grip is better than traditional grip:
                      More power (or volume) when you want it
                      Better finger control: With traditional grip, only the two fingers on top of the left stick (index and middle fingers) are controlling the downward motion of the stick. With matched grip (and thumb on top, not off to the side), all fingers are controlling the downward motion of the stick. For a demonstration of this, see the Dave Weckl video "Back to Basics".
                      Requires less patience to learn. Therefore, more encouraging and less frustrating for young drumming students.
                      Better angle for fuller-sounding rim shots
                      When you learn matched grip you're also learning the grip for marimba, bells, timpani, etc.
                      The hands can play more evenly and sound more even
                      Better balance on the drumset, because matched grip is symmetrical and traditional grip is asymmetrical
                      Easier to manoeuver around large drumset
                      Easier to play left-hand ride on hi-hat or on cymbal on left side of drumset


                      Enough?




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                      Thank Ye,
                      Alex.
                      Thanx. Alex & me V's! http://photos.yahoo.com/flexapr

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                      • #12
                        Nice articles. Can you cite the source? I agree that Ringo was the reason that the matched grip swept across the rock scene ( and eventually all other styles) like wild fire. I was there and saw it happen before my eyes.

                        I've also heard that traditional grip is better because there are things you can do with it that you can't do with matched. I would agree with this - however, I would point out that you can hold your sticks any number of strange ways and do things you could never do with matched grip, or traditional either, for that matter.
                        I agree 100 per cent. Early in my music career I found a ways to hold my stick(s) such that it would make the girls want more. OOPS! We're talking drumming here. Sorry

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                        -~

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                        • #13
                          I learned to play the drums in a drumband, where the traditional grip was taught.

                          Nowadays,I tend to use the traditional when playing jazz and matched for anything else.

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                          • #14
                            Anyone know of any famous rock/metal drummers that play traditional grip? That is, plays traditional grip while playing rock. Obviously a lot of guys (like Bissonette) play traditional while playing jazz, but switch to matched for rock.

                            I've been trying very hard to switch to matched for rock. Hammering rim shots on 2 and 4 for hours at a time is really rought on my middle finger with traditional grip.

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                            Reverend Poppy
                            Reverend Poppy

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Reverend Poppy:
                              Anyone know of any famous rock/metal drummers that play traditional grip? That is, plays traditional grip while playing rock. Obviously a lot of guys (like Bissonette) play traditional while playing jazz, but switch to matched for rock.

                              I've been trying very hard to switch to matched for rock. Hammering rim shots on 2 and 4 for hours at a time is really rought on my middle finger with traditional grip.

                              Both Cozy Powell and Carl Palmer played traditional. Cozy just looked enormously powerful with traditional grip.

                              Stu
                              "Fry that sound effect, Moriarty, we're having it for breakfast"

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