Let’s talk about hand technique. For the purposes of this discussion, I am going to assume that you know a few basics:
- good drum technique requires a loose grip and tension free body motions
- the “meat and potatoes” motions of American matched grip come from a wrist motion that is much like your movements when you wave to someone (we’re talking about an up and down wave, not a side-to-side one)
- a fulcrum is the part of your grip that creates a stable point of contact with the stick and a pivot point such that the stick can rotate as a lever from that axis point
A lot of people teach that the fulcrum a drummer should use is created by putting the stick between the thumb and pointer finger.
I used to hold the sticks that way. It’s what I was originally taught. But over time, I began to question that. Part of it had to do with observing drummers I like who had great technique. When I watched them, it didn’t look like they were using the fulcrum I was taught.
Eventually I checked out Dave Weckl’s “How To Develop Technique” video. It was there that I first heard (and saw) the description of using a middle finger fulcrum. It is important to note that Weckl made this important video after transforming his technique through his studies with the legendary teacher Freddy Gruber. The list of drummers who have studied with Gruber also includes Vinnie Colaiuta, Steve Smith, and Neil Peart. Let that sink in for a moment. These are arguably some of the greatest technicians of modern drumming.
So, based on the above, I tried the middle finger fulcrum. Guess what? It’s better, which is not a surprise.
The reasons are simple. It opens the hand up in a new way. It feels looser. The pointer finger is on top of the stick now and the fulcrum is inside the hand. This creates a see-saw between the front of the hand (the pointer finger) and the back of the hand (the ring finger and pinky). When you throw the stick down with your wrist motion, the pointer finger, now on top of the stick, is able to give you some leverage to bounce the stick. When the pointer finger is part of the fulcrum, it is unable to do this.
Having the pointer finger on top of the stick makes getting a bounce easier. It also gives me more control over the stick as it bounces. The pointer finger becomes a bit of a stabilizer while the middle finger and thumb are the “axis,” within which the stick can rotate.
I feel strongly that the middle finger fulcrum is the better way. Overall, it feels better to me. It’s looser, but with more control (seems counter-intuitive, but it’s true). I’ve shown this new fulcrum to many students and the positive difference is apparent to them immediately. Give it a try.