Have you noticed that a lot of prominent players are moving away from traditional grip? Recently I’ve read interviews where Dave Weckl and Steve Smith each mention they are using matched grip more than they used to. Thomas Lang has gone so far as to say that Traditional Grip is “a curse.”
Much of what I’ve read indicates that the main issue these players have is one of power.
More specifically, the awkwardness of the grip when powerful backbeats are needed can cause injury.
And I agree. This is my complaint with the grip. You simply can not gracefully get the same power on the drum kit with Traditional Grip.
But I still continue to use Traditional Grip in a significant amount of my playing because I’ve developed so much facility that way. But I understand why Lang feels the way he does. The reason the grip has continued to be used is part and parcel in the name itself. Tradition has created a lineage that gets followed despite the needs of modern playing.
And the history, which is the primary reason that Traditional Grip persists, does not account for the change in style of music and the greater need for power that the prevalence of rock and pop drumming requires.
To explain this, let me tell you about how and why I made decisions on hand grips up until now. When I first started playing drums, my primary drumming role models were John Bonham, Neil Peart and Peter Criss.
They all played Matched Grip and so I learned by imitating. For many years I played only Matched Grip.
Later, I discovered the virtuosic playing of Gadd, Colaiuta, Weckl, Williams and Rich. I became obsessed with acquiring more technique. I asked myself, “If all of the greatest drummer technicians play Traditional Grip, shouldn’t I?”
The answer was a resounding “yes.” In fact, it was a no brainer. I did not need to know anything other than the fact that Steve Gadd, Vinnie Colaiuta, Dave Weckl, Tony Williams and Buddy Rich all primarily used that grip. No knowledgeable drummer would argue about these being among the greatest hand technicians in the history of the instrument.
Now, let’s explore some more drumming history. In all likelihood, the drummers named above chose their grip preferences for the very same reasons that I did! Their drumming idols used Traditional Grip and they were just mimicking them. But most of their idols were jazz drummers. That has been documented in many interviews with these giants.
What makes all of this somewhat ludicrous is that the only reason Traditional Grip even exists—and now we’re going back even earlier in history—has to do with drummers marching in the military.
When the earliest marching snare drummers played, they created Traditional Grip. Like many new ideas, necessity became the mother of invention. The way the snare drum hung off of the marching drummer’s body resulted in a downward slanting playing surface. Matched Grip would simply not be practical in this situation. Hence, the birth of Traditional Grip.
And that invention had been passed down through a long lineage of drummers, including myself and many of you, simply because a significant number of prominent drummers became incredibly good at using that grip.
That doesn’t mean that the grip always makes sense in today’s musical environment.
In the new millennium, a versatile drummer will sometimes require power to play appropriately for a particular genre.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had a long love affair with Traditional Grip, and some of my chops are superior using that method. But it makes sense to me to have one method that can do it all, and I believe that Matched Grip may ultimately be that way.
The journey is never ending.
Food for thought.
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Kyle Cullen says
I don’t play traditional though I did practise it for a month or so a few years into my playing. Mainly because I started to get into drummers who used it. Like you I thought I had to hold my sticks like them to be any good.
Some people seem to think to play jazz you should learn trad grip. A teacher I had a lesson with (who plays trad but doesn’t recommend it) got me to close my eyes and try and work out which grip he was using. Both times he played the right hand swing part and nothing else and followed by saying, that’s what makes something sound like jazz. Meaning the left hand isn’t as important.
It’s always stuck with me
Leon Brenner says
If taditional grip is so great, why not use it on both hands??
Mark Feldman says
That would be hilarious to see.
1. Because the drumset is usually not symmetric. Imagine how far the right had would need to go to the right to reach the floor tom, or how difficult it would be to pay on the ride cymbal.
2. Because the asymmetry often triggers creative ideas.
Mark Feldman says
thank you for your thoughts.
Julius Yang says
There’s no denying matched grip gives you more power. It’s also incredibly hard to think of a reason to use traditional grip in this day and age, except one thing Jojo Mayer said once has stuck with me. Paraphrased, he said “traditional grip inspires me in a different way than matched grip”.
Technique is not a goal in itself; the goal is to play musically. It’s obvious that you can do so using either traditional or matched grip. Drummers should focus on the techniques that help them play the music they want to play.
Side note: it seems to me that you can achieve more power with traditional grip, without changing your technique or injuring yourself, by angling your snare drum more deeply, thus increasing the distance your stroke travels. But I’ve only been drumming a little while, so whadda I know?
that Jojo quote is trueÔÇª..Tony Williams said that too. It’s a conundrum. I love traditional grip sometimes and when that bone on the inside of my left thumb is soreÔÇª..well, thenÔÇª..I hate it.
WRONG PARD , IN THIS DAY AND AGE I GUESS EVERYONES SUPPOSED TO FOLLOW THE LEADER. NO MIND OF THEIR OWN MAYBE A GOOD DRUMMER SHOULD LEARN TO PLAY BOTH WAYS I DO!! AND FRANKLY FROM WHAT IVE EXPERENICED IN THIS DAY AND AGE ID RATHER DIAL THE CLOCK BACK 50 YEARS!1
Jesse Bartlett-Webber says
I, like you, started off playing matched. Then switched to traditional when I got into playing jazz.
Only until recently when I have started to play with more orchestral percussionists have I realized that it is important to be versatile with both grips. Practicing both ways will make you a better drummer and allow you to do more with the instrument.
I also think that playing with each grip strengthens the other! My hands always feel better when I open up my playing to both possibilities.
Pat McLaughlin says
You speak the truth! I learned to drum with matched grip and then quickly converted to traditional grip when I joined drumline in high school. Used traditional all the way through high school and then started switching back to matched grip when I began orchestral study in college. I debated for years about which grip to pick and ultimately decided on matched for the ergonomic and balanced approach. It was a tough battle to convert over but I’m glad I did it. Best of luck with your journey!
Thanks Pat. I try to be honest. 🙂 Meanwhile, I STILL play traditional grip a majority of the time..It’s a love/hate relationship.
UPDATE: 12/23/17 — I have totally switched to matched now. I love it. No looking back. I have lots of power if I want it and I haven’t lost any of my subtle technique. My singles are getting much cleaner and more powerful too. Win Win Win.
Joseph Welsh says
I began to learn to play back in 1960.
My drum heroes were Rich, Krupa, Morello.
I learned traditional grip . . . playing in the marching band,
the concert band, the dance band.
Traditional carried over to my play with my rock-n-roll band.
When I first laid eyes on Ringo Starr playing matched grip . . .
my first thought was, “Fairy! He can’t really play.”
Today, all these years later, the same sort of thought jumps to my mind
watching the “floppy-fish” movements of matched grip players.
I know that I’m wrong . . . but in my head, one can’t look cool playing
while using matched grip. (Plus, I really suck at it.)
Just an olde fart’s point of view.
All points of view are welcome here, Joe! Thanks for chiming in.
YOUR 100 PERCENT RIGHT IVE PLAYED TRADITIONAL ALL MY DRUMMING LIFE 50 YEARS I CAN ALSO USE MATCHED BUT PREFER TRADITONAL MOST OF THE TIME. IT TAKES FINESSE SKIL AND GIVES THE DRUMMMER MORE CLASS I ALWAYS THOUGHT MATCHED GRIP MADE THE DRUMMER LOOK LIKE HES BACK IN THE JUNGLE BANGIN ON LOGS , THE HELL WITH THE GUY THAT SAYS IN THIS DAY AND AGE FRANKLY FROM WHAT IVE SEEN ABOUT THIS DAY AND AGE I RATHER REVERSE THE CLOCK BACK 50 YEARS MOST ARE TOO LAZY TO USE TRADITIONAL I GUESS ITS TOO HARD FOR THE IMBECILES. THAT SAY SUCH THINGS , AND RINGO ??? I NEVER REALLY EVER GAVE HIM MUCH AS A SKILLED DRUMMER NO MATTER WHO HES PLAYED WITH YOUR RIGHT RINGO WAS THE FIRST I SAW USING IT.
I tend to think slightly different, all though you are correct in saying that you learn from who you watch growing up, in my case, when I sat down at a drum kit for the first time I naturally turned the stick over to traditional grip even though all the drummers I idolized growing up we’re all matched grip players. To me I feel something is not quite comfortable when I play matched grip (if I do flip it over once every now and then). I feel so much more capable when the stick is cradled in traditional grip. As far as power goes I can match my right hand quite comfortably, in fact I would go as far as saying that although power in both hands feels very even my left hand (trad grip) seems to feel stronger at times. I totally agree with what is being said about every one switching to match grip, it even seems to be happening with drummers I know who aren’t famouse but I look at it this way… Weckl and these other greats got great play traditional grip, they are the top drummers of the world and they got there with this grip. Why change? Personally Virgil Donati In my opinion is at the top of the ladder and he always uses traditional grip. Want power, speed and endurance? Study Virgil and his traditional grip technique. I think it would be a real shame if this technique was lost. Just saying..
Hi Dean –
Thanks for your thoughtful response. I agree that Virgil really gets power with traditional. Some good words to consider.
I think it’s good to be open to both traditional and matched grip, i sometimes wish I had spent more time with matched grip, not because I think it’s better but more so to be able to feel comfortable with that grip. As you would know though Feldiefeld, there is definately something truley unique about traditional grip, espeasually how it feels and I don’t think I would ever change it. And while we are on Virgil, I’m just amazed with every video posted on YouTube he seems to be getting better (if that’s possible) and more advanced. One of the few where noticible changes in such an advanced way in his playing are so visible. What an amazing person. My inspiration and definatly my motivation to want to constantly improve.
Thanks Dean….. I agree Virgil is quite amazing. Definitely an inspiration.
Also watch the clip with weckl, colaiuta and gadd on YouTube… All trad grip players! And Lang calls this grip a curse…?? HA!!! Sorry guys I have respect for Thomas langs playing but if it is in fact true that he called this grip a curse I have to question the mans thinking!
Hey Dean – Thanks for your input. I think that both grips can achieve fantastic results. And I understand Lang’s opinion, although I think he may state it rather boldly. Perhaps he is trying to stimulate discussion. I waffle on the issue, but the bottom line is that I would like to ultimately have the same facility with either grip and use whichever method I think suits the situation I am in at the time…..My main problem with traditional is that it can lead to injury when you are trying to go for the type of power that heavy rock requires….
Yes I totally agree with you on being able to play comfortably with both grips. It’s just my opinion that if proper streatching and technique is applied there is no reason heavy rock ect can’t be played using traditional. I personally think a bigger set back for traditional grip drummers is the fact that they require a unique set up. I have been on gigs where there is only one kit to be shared by multiple players, all of whom were matched grip players and let me tell you, playing traditional grip on a kit that has been set up to accommodate a match grip player is awkward! To say the least! This may well lead to injery and possibly a very sloppy performance. So now if I ever find myself in this type of situation I kindly ask to make the required changes in set up to suit me even if it takes up a little time.
I am not sure I agree…..but I am going to try an experiment to test it out. I have a heavy-ish rock gig I play a lot…. the band is called MANCIE. I am going to try and play traditional at the next gig. I will report back….usually i play matched because I feel better about the power I get……
Cool, it will be interesting to see how that goes. And would also like to check out your band! See I’m someone who plays strictly traditional grip, if I flip it over to matched it’s only for a bar or 2 max and that’s very rare, it may even only happen a couple times a year. My set up requires me to have my snare slightly higher then most match grip players and it also requires a tilt where the left side of the snare sits up higher then the right. Cymbals on the left side of my kit also need to sit in a little closer then the ones on the right side and my toms also need to sit in with a very slight angle. Now I’m not saying you can’t play match grip on this kit, I’m saying that it is awkward. This applies to drummers who are playing 98% trad grip. there are a lot of drummers who can play both or matched more then trad, for these guys I don’t think the set up has to be as suited to trad grip because when they feel uncomfortable with one grip they can swap and there set up will accommodate for that. But if you are a soul trad grip player like I am, there is definatly a HUGE difference in drum kit set up, and over all playing… And I’m certainly not implying that ones is necessarily better then the other, just different.
IVE USED TRADITONAL GRIPE ALL MY LIFE I CAN ALSO USE THE MATCHED GRIPE. IT DEPENDS ON THE SONG AND THE EFFECT I NEED . FOR MORE INTRICATE PLAYING AND SPECIAL DRUM SOLOS I USE THE TRADITONAL FOR FINESSE, ALSO I THINK IT GIVES THE DRUMMER MORE CLASS THAN TO SEE HIM HOLDING MATCHED AS IF HES BEATING ON A LOG ALTHOUGH BOTH HAVE ADVANTAGES , I FIRST SAW RINGO USING MATCHED YEARS BACK AND DIDNT LIKE THE WAY IT LOOKED AS GENE KRUPA BUDDY, LOUIE ETC. ALL USE TRADITIONAL, CLASSY LOOK! AS TIME WENT ON ALOT OF DRUMMERS CHOSE MATCHED EASIER TO LEARN AND SOME OF THE BIG NAME ROCK DRUMMERS WERE USING IT,MATCHED GRIPE IS WHAT TYMPANI PLAYERS USE BUT THATS FOR THE DRUM. AND I USE THE METHOD LIKE I SAID IT DEPENDS ON WHAT IM PLAYING IT ALWAYS GOOD TO USE BOTH, I RAN INTO A DRUM TEACHER I KNOW AT ONE OF THE LOCAL HIGH SCHOOLS WE CHATTED AND HE TOLD ME HE WAS CURRENTLY TRYING TO LEARN TO PLAY WITH THE TRADITONAL GRIPE, MADE ME FEEL GOOD , IM NOT A DRUM TEACHER BUT CAN PLAY BOTH WAYS !!
ALSO USING TRADIONAL GRIPE YOU CAN DO SOME PRETTY NEAT THINGS WITH THE STICKS AS THE LEFT THUMB POSITON ACTS LIKE A RETURN SPRING SOMETHING THE MATCH CANNOT DO AND NEVER WILL , I GUESS MAYBE IT COMES WITH YEARS OF EXPERIENCE TO DEVE
LOP THE TECHNIQUE IN MY CASE I GOT 50 YEARS BEHIND ME AND 40 USING MATCHED!
Thanks Ron. And Dean, I tried to use traditional in the rock band I mentioned. It was not right, so I played matched. In that situation, it feels good. I just don’t feel comfortable cracking big backbeat/rimshots unless I use matched.
I think that where I ultimately come out on this debate is predictable. BOTH grips are useful. My goal is to have my chops equally honed with each grip. Each one has it’s merits.
Thanks for your report on your rock gig feldiefeld. I think it’s important to play how one is comfortable. In my case it’s traditional grip, I started with this grip and have developed it over the 20 years iv been playing. Personally I find it very difficult to play matched grip, not because of technique or sound or style but simply because i didnt take the time to learn or practice useing matched grip thus leaving me to rely on traditional grip. From hard heavy rock to jazz, traditional grip just works for me. What I said I’m my last post still stands though, espeacially for people who are wanting to try traditional grip. I say Learn the physics of how the body works when dealing with traditional grip and set your drums up accordingly. You will never experience the full potential of trad grip if you dont set your kit up to acomidate for it. Angle that snare so it’s sloping down to your right to enable the perfect rim shot, lift your snare higher so that when your left forearm comes down, it’s not extended past a 90 degree angle at the elbow so you have plenty of power for hard rock, use the wrist, index finger and thumb to twist even more power into your stroke. All these things combined with the correct set up for traditional grip will allow the same, if not more power and control…. But first master traditional grip on a pad, get to know it well, and if it’s for you, you will fall in love with it.
I’ve been playing drum for almost 4 years. As a self-taught drummer I started off with matched grip, and switched to traditional around 1 year afterward.
I actually love jazz drumming, but here in my country it’s hard to find a jazzy companions to establish a jazz band without being a musical college student, plus my musician friends are mostly of metal genre. So I end up playing mostly in rock/metal band for almost 2 years, and of course, I used traditional grip in 90% of the time.
Most people insult traditional grip mainly of its (so-believed) inferior power, but for me, I feel my traditional grip backbeats are cleaner and stronger, despite a slight inferiority in term of volume. Moreover, I feel much more comfortable playing single-double stroke with trad, especially in very fast tempo.
I don’t know whether I’m doing it fight or wrong, but whenever I want a very full and powerful stroke, I usually swing my arm up to my shoulder. (Moeller’s technique or something? I learnt it from Jojo’s Secret Weapon for Modern Drummer though) And I feel those motions are much more comfortable in traditional style. My right hand match grip full stroke motion never feel as fluent.
One more thing I love of being a traditional player, is when I play at metal/hardcore event. Other drummers usually have dafuq look at my left hand. I feel somewhat special, haha.
But with all pros and cons, music have no right or wrong. When you choose your soul mate you don’t choose the best girl in the world, but you choose one that you love most! Traditional grip is my drum-mate. Well, love has no reason, haha
Eric Lee says
I’m fascinated w/trad grip. I feel much more involved w/my playing because of the work and development this technique demands. It’s a big part of why I practice, and it makes playing special because it demands my attention. Just picking up the sticks becomes more interesting. I ask questions that I wouldn’t normally ask and try things that don’t occur to me when using matched. I’d go as far to say that this is my main interest in drumming, because it focuses me on the mechanics of it, and on every little nuance simply because it’s not the same as matched.
In other words, I love trad for precisely the same reasons many others don’t like it. I do it for how it makes me feel … it appeals to my obsessive personality.
I second what Eric lee says… Easpecialy the last bit about the obsessive personality lol it’s true…
My 5 cents here: Imagine you haven’t seen drummer drumming in your life, and you are presented with sticks and flat leveled drum in front of you, and you want to produce even sounds with both hands. How in the world would you come up with a traditional grip? It’s complete nonsense. All the traditional players should tilt their snares to the right. What if someone was a great race driver, and drove with one hand and one foot on the wheel? Would you do it?
Mark Feldman says
I agree, Evo…traditional really doesn’t make sense. I’m late to responding, but thank you for commenting.
THE TRADITIONAL GRIP WAS DEVELOPED SEVERAL CENTURIES AGO WHEN HE DRUMMERS FOR THE REGIMENTS HAD THE DRUM HANGING ON THEIR RIGHT SIDE OR L;EFT IT WOULD HAVE BEEN VERY HARD TO USE A MATCHED GRIP UNLESS THE DRUM WAS OUT IN FRONT AND EVEN THEN IT WOULD BE HARD , I HAVE PLAYED TRADTIONAL FOR 52 YEARS AND ALTERNATE WITH MATCHED DEPENDING ON THE SONG ALSO I ALWAYS THOUGHT THE TRADTIONAL GRIP GAVE A DRUMMER SOME CLASS INSTEAD OF LOOKING LIKE HE WAS POUNDING ON A HOLLOW LOG , I PLAY BOTH WAYS , MOST OF YOU CANT PLAY TRADITIONAL , TOO HARD TO LEARN?????? OR NOT COORDINATED ENOUGH ???
Mark Feldman says
No need to yell.
Be civil in my house please.
Tino Baricic says
Yes, you can get the same power with the traditional grip gracefully. The problem is that people don’t use it correctly and still will criticize. It takes time to develop this grip and the key is to learn to hold the stick all the way down between the middle and ring finger. All the way down. Then grip the stick. This, as weird as it looks or sounds works perfectly, at least it does for me. If I need more subtle dynamics I use the “common” traditional grip where the stick touches the middle parts of the middle and ring finger. Traditional grip also makes it easy to execute 16th or 8th notes on the snare because it provides a more comfortable angle. I also noticed that my feet have better contact with the pedals when using traditional grip. With match grip my feet tend to be playing with mostly outside part of the foot (feet). And to those who call it a “curse” please learn to use it first and then criticize it! If you hold the stick using matched grip with only tips of your fingers naturally it will have less power and drummers for this reason grip the stick fully, the same thing is with the traditional grip !
Mark Feldman says
Hi Tino – thank you for your comments. I think it’s great that you are passionate about traditional grip. I was very passionate about it for many years…. over the last couple of years I switched to primarily matched. I find that it’s less awkward and overall a better choice for me. I can do everything I could do using traditional with matched. And….there are new tricks I’m working on that I can only do with matched….. more on that later….but your opinion is most valued and appreciated. thank you for your thoughts.
Tino Baricic says
I forgot to mention when it comes to playing snare exercises, alias using hands only, I use the match grip. But when it comes to drum set I switch to traditional because already said it has something to do with the pedals and how feet rest upon them, angle or something. I believe in the end it’s all individual or how we are built physically perhaps. Thank you for your kind reply and you’re most welcome, and sorry for writing too much!
Tino Baricic says
Also, tilt your snare if necessary and tune it a little lower..and we all also know that power is simply a byproduct of groove! One grip is as good as other if it grooves!
Matt Allen says
I play both grips matched and traditional. Depending what the music calls for. If I’m playing a high powered Texas shuffle or rock grooves with triplet rolls and ratamacues that calls for matched. if I’m playing lighter grooves with lots of ghost notes then switch to traditional. To keep them both up I work out on a pad with duplets and triplet rolls with accents, etc. always with a metronome. Lots of fun.
Obviously late to the discussion but wanted to mention a few things. Jojo stated in his Secret Weapons video that there was “no difference” in terms of grip and that this is preference. Virgil had said it looked harder so wanted to conquer it (obviously loves a challenge?). And I’m trying to read an interview with Thomas Lang about his Carpel Tunnel: https://twitter.com/thomaslangdrum/status/170047988276797441 but can’t access it on the web. I can’t remember if he blames traditional but that might be why he said what he said. Best to all.
Thanks for the ongoing discussion everyone. It’s an interesting topic for me and I appreciate the comments. I’ve had an ongoing battle with this… I love traditional and the discipline it requires. (I was in a drum corps, so you know what that means.) It’s more challenging and takes a ton of upkeep… I love how it feels and how it makes me think differently for some reason, and it does sound different. But I play fairly aggressive, challenging music. It’s not a “jazz grip” for me. So, I’ve gone back and forth a lot between trad and matched, and have had to accept that I’m stuck with both!
Best of luck to you all in your drumming!
Mark Feldman says
Thanks, Terry. Your comments are welcomed and appreciated. As an update on my use of matched, I have hardly played traditional at all in quite some time….perhaps a year and a half? I have to say, I am pleased with the switch. I have more consistent power and I haven’t lost any of the finesse of the double strokes or those types of nuances from making the switch. It took a lot of practice, but it was worth it.
I say play however you want to… just don’t try to justify traditional grip with any sort of logic or reasoning. People hold the stick that way because they think it looks cool. Simple as that.
For anyone who insists that there is some mechanical/physical advantage of playing traditional grip, I say fine: then hold both sticks that way.
Mark Feldman says
Ha Ha!!! Thanks GK.
I learned matched grip and still play that way only.
For me, since I can do everything I want to do using matched grip, I feel that investing time in learning the traditional grip would not be the best use of my time; time I could spend learning rudiments, new songs etc.
Also, if I learn something using traditional grip, then chances are I’ll only be able to play it effectively using that grip. This to me is somewhat limiting.
In contrast if I use “one method that can do it all” as the author put it, then everything I learn/practice can be applied in every musical situation- nothing requires the use of traditional grip just because I happened to learn it that way.
Imagine wanting/needing to use a particular rudiment or pattern that you learned using trad. grip at a metal gig? Not only would you (probably) struggle to get enough power out of the technique, it would look pretty incongruous!
One could always learn everything using both trad. and matched grip, however to me this just seems like unnecessary work; why would I spend time practicing rudiments using both grips when I could be composing and playing music?
Another factor to consider is that in most scenarios we want both hands to sound as close to the same as possible- the same volume, produced by the same techniques, using the same amount of effort- what better way to achieve this than using the same grip with both hands?
One more thing that some people may argue is that symmetry on the hands makes for good viewing for the audience, although this is certainly dependent on personal preference.
Mark Feldman says
Hi Max – Thanks for your comment! Your input is appreciated!
Just my point of view: Traditional Grip is what it is… “Traditional”… when drumsets weren’t invented yet, the grip or position for the left hand to play an angled snare drum which hung from the drummer’s body is the Traditional Grip as we know today. People during those marching drums days adapted to what was ergonomically convenient, they did great on that. Imagine using a matched grip on an angled snare drum; you’re elbow would be up in the air, higher than your shoulders (try it).
For many years, people trained that way, then the drumset came into being. What happened was that those players who were great on the marching drums adapted to play the set with the grip they’re comfortable with which they have used for decades without much concern if the position is anatomically correct.
The best test is to ask someone with no drum influence whatsoever and does not play the drums to just sit behind a kit and quickly adapt a comfortable position he thinks he can play. 100% of the time they will use the matched grip. This is because it is physically and ergonomically correct and natural. People who play great with traditional grip do so because they trained years with it, but with regards to how the human body functions and just plain applying physics to playing, a matched grip is superior.
I do respect traditional players and at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter as the actual music produced by whatever style is the final verdict as well as one’s fulfillment in playing. Cheers !
Mark Feldman says
Hi Denzio –
Thanks for telling us your thoughts.
I agree that matched is a better solution. My hard work playing trad allowed me to function at a high level with it. I’m really glad I switched back to matched. I can do more this way.
Traditional grip can be very powerful if not more powerful with proper technique applied. If you apply good wrist snap with looseness the dynamic is great. It is definitely more difficult to master for most drummers. When I teach drumming I show students both grips and determine which one seems to be working best. Most tend to stick with match grip, others pick up traditional grip more naturally.
Traditional grip should not be discouraged if it works in executing creative expression of the individual.
Mark Feldman says
Hi Andy –
Thanks for your comment!
Tino Baricic says
Traditional lets you sit closer to the drums. More power, control and stability. I’ve seen matched grip players sitting pretty far from the drumset and lacking power in the kick drum as well in their hands, me personally being one of them. If you play match grip and your drums are farther away, you’ll be playing with legs and arms stretched to an angle above the 90 degrees which is just going to waste too much of your energy trying to achieve good quality sound without a result. And also, when you stretch your arms significantly, the index finger will become loose and detached from the drumstick reducing the power of the strokes and inhibiting technique. However each one is different so what works for me doesn’t necessarily work for other, I just wanted to share my thoughts from a different perspective, because the matched/traditional discussions are always about that one hand only, the left hand. Hoping somebody found this a bit useful anyway, and happy drumming to everyone!
Mark Feldman says
I honestly don’t think it follows that matched grip players necessarily sit further away from their kits. I certainly don’t and I play matched all the time now. Just my two cents.
Simon S-R says
Yea, , ,trad grip can sometimes feel just perfect for staying right in the pocket. But watch out for those cut knuckles where you have caught the edge of your hihat on a fast fill around the drums! Maybe this is one of the reasons why Tony Williams usually reverted to matched grip to do his power fills on the toms.
I use both and let my hands make the decision. Also when practicing rudiments in matched grip mode, I try to move the position of both my wrists from the so called German grip with thumbs at the side to the French grip where my thumbs are on top , ( the way many drummers use to play the ride cymbal) to feel more comfortable with both positions.
Versatility is the secret! Handy if I am doing a gig having not played for a while and have a blister developing on my left hand and I can switch grips without losing out on power or technique.
Mark Feldman says
HI Simon –
Thanks for your thoughts. I have actually abandoned traditional grip at this point. It doesn’t make sense for me anymore and I really hated how I had to set my drums up in order to accommodate the grip. My hi hat seemed to have to be in a weird position and I don’t think I had the power I wanted either. I have to tip my hat to guys like Virgil, Keith and Vinnie who seem to be able to get the power they need with traditional grip….. but it doesn’t work for me.
Thanks for reading the blog, Simon!
Darren Mc Master-Smith says
I play matched,I love the balance it gives,trad grip is about looks purely,it’s a classy looking grip and in the narcissist World of musicians,of course most will prefer the trad grip because it looks more hipper and cooler.
I went down that road also but I found I couldn’t play a series of random accents with my left hand while playing a steady rhythm with my left (trad grip) hand,I start getting weak and numbness in the grip where with matched,I can play accents all day long.
An advantage I have found with trad though is with triplets especially the rll rll rll rll variety,you can get a nice controlled bounce with that grip and get your triplets very fast.
I think Virgil uses alot of wrist in all his strokes on both hands to get the power he does,plus he practises endurance exercises which cover every drum and cymbal (look at Power Drumming) which helps to build up stength,speed and endurance.
But I again think that you can do alot with matched that you can do with trad and it’s definately the cooler looking grip and I think that’s why alot use it.
A drumming hero of mine is Barriemore Barlow,he used matched and had great technique,listen to his double stroke 16th triplet rolls on Dark Ages,like a classical snare drum player.
Mark Feldman says
Hi Darren –
Thanks for writing!
I have switched from matched to traditional and now back to matched and I am happy to be back. I think you can have just as much technique with matched as with traditional grip–perhaps more. I think it’s less awkward and easier to play matched. I’m with you!
Mike smith says
Mike I have played trad. from my youth ,late sixties,had a teacher who loved jazz.I had a passion for rock,so you can imagine going at it for years with the left not matched.I found the kit set up is a big thing,like my reach to the floor tom,and the attack ,over there.I decided to put the second floor Tom beside my hi hat,so I could get a double base drum sound with my left and base,plus get my left hand off the snare ,get the right working the snare and hi hats more.Really changed my head around with funk and regae,and gave me double base without having to learn ,what seems to me an athletic endeavour ,double base.I play a fair bit of percussion and hand drums,the big thing I see with people is this idea of power,very difficult to explain,but try to yell at someone when you don’t feel it.Try to quietly express yourself when your feeling excited .why learn to play ? One can always go buy a drum machine turn it at full volume repeat ,then enjoy the comunication,sorry folks,that’s all I have to say in words.thankyou
Mark Feldman says
Hi Mike –
Thanks for writing.
So, let me ask you. After the explanation you’ve given, I’m not sure where are you with the matched vs traditional grip debate. Can you tell me? Matched or Traditional or both?
I switched to back matched a few years ago and I love it. I don’t think I’ll ever go back.
Oliver Edward Rowe says
Most people are either left handed or right handed. One side is dominant. Ambidexterity is not the norm. One can train oneself to be somewhat ambidextrous, but it is not natures way, evidently. We have all heard of left brain and right brain differences as to creativity, rational thinking processes, and so on. Look at the Yin/Yang symbol. Male/female is not the complete way to interpret that symbology. It is to me more like mass and flowing into space. I’ve played many matched grip gigs that required that straight ahead power feel, and I’ve played many traditional grip gigs that did not require that straight ahead power feel. If one is to commit to matched grip, why not get one of those off set bass pedals, and set up the toms and cymbals exactly the same left and right, mirror image. Even put hihats left and right. Play the left arm and foot only on left side of set and right arm and foot only on right side of set. Complete ambidexterity. Monster power left and right. No torsion and twisting of upper body, just straight ahead and perfect balance. But no Yin/Yang…..the creative natural flow one feels with traditional grip. Just the awesome linear product of energy. Too me the awesome powerful matched grip players eventually have that same linear sound to the pattern of play. Perhaps that where the future is taking us. All drummers eventually sounding like the same One Monster. One can say traditional grip just came from side drums. But there is another way of looking at it. The natural handedness expressed in the peculiar natural flow of creative energy where one side makes empty and the other side fills. The flow is just different. But in this Energy within we dwell, there is a way and a time for everything. I’ll play my Tympani matched. And anything by Zeppelin.
Mark Feldman says
Hi Oliver –
Thanks for your thoughts. I just want to make sure I understand what you’re trying to get across…. If you were to summarize your opinon on this in two sentences, what would you say?
I couldn’t agree more. Imagine getting 100 people and wiping their memories clean so they’ve never seen photos or video/film of anyone drumming.
Then, give them all drum sets and sticks and see how many of them grab the right stick in the most natural way – what we call matched grip – but grab the left stick in an awkward, unnatural way by flipping that hand and just that hand over and putting it between their first two fingers and their thumb.
The number will be zero. As you pointed out (and I’ve been saying it for decades), traditional grip only exists because of near-ancient history. It never should have made it over to the drum set, or should have been abandoned early on (as it was almost completely by rock drummers in the 60s-early 90s.
Give it up, people. Any advantage you believe you have with traditional grip is something you’re imagining.
Mark Feldman says
yup….never in a million years would someone just decide to play that way