Ride Cymbal Technique

ChurchyDrums

Junior Member
Hey all,

I have a question regarding ride cymbal technique in regards to grips. My Pipe Band drum instructor bangs on about how essential it is to stay with German grip (Backs of hands facing up) when playing ANYTHING whether it be on a snare drum, hi hat, or ride cymbal. He claims that many of the greats (Rich, Krupa etc) did this as well, but when i look at their videos they seem to play thumbs facing up. Is he right?

It's been bugging me for so long, i'd appreciate any feedback.

Thanks everyone,

Churchy
 

Arky

Platinum Member
Utter crap - this sums it all up!

Each grip has advantages/disadvantages. If in doubt - use American grip as it is the best combination as it has the leas specific disadvantages of both German and French. But as said - there's a place for each of those grips. Experiment with what works best for you. Typically many drummers would shift from German/American grip while playing around the center of the kit to American/French grip when moving to the floor tom(s) as this would be a more natural/ergonomic hand position. Always think of what is ergonomic/natural to the human body.

The disadvantage with German grip is that you have limited capability of controlling/slowing down/stopping the stick with your thumb and also can't imply much finger control (which you can with French which works superbly in that context). French grip has its own disadvantages, too.

Check out some explanations Bill Bachman has on various grips and the why's.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sPAO0TSp594
Sorry I don't remember where exactly in the video (there's 3 of them altogether) Bill does explain what I'm talking of but it's worth watching them all anyway.

BTW, French grip is extremely common for playing the ride cymbal. Regardless whether your instructor being unaware of this.
 
Last edited:

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
Utter crap - this sums it all up!
+1

I did a quick search, because one of our superb member, SickRick (Lutz) wrote this post about grips, so I did a copy & paste of his post :)

"Maybe not so many have straight out opinions on this topic because quite simply there is not straight out one way to do it.

If I just look at myself there are so many different ways I work the stick I'm sure I'll forget somehting:

There is the freestroke (obviously - and it has been greatly discussed here).
Tap
Upstroke
Downstroke
Fullstroke
Moellerstroke / Whip
Pull-out accent
Finger
Reverse finger / open close
playing out of the whole arm
french grip
german grip
american grip
basler grip
traditional grip
traditional grip locked in
first finger first joint
first finger second joint
second finger first joint
second finger second joint
pinky grips only - no thumb
lateral strokes (like brush strokes but with sticks)
freehand strokes
butter the bread strokes (like Ringo)
dead stroke
buzz stroke (with a million variations)
double stroke
triple stroke
multiple bounce stroke
backstick
The list goes on and on and on. Which one was the one you wanted to discuss in here?
"
 

JohnW

Silver Member
Hey all,

I have a question regarding ride cymbal technique in regards to grips. My Pipe Band drum instructor bangs on about how essential it is to stay with German grip (Backs of hands facing up) when playing ANYTHING whether it be on a snare drum, hi hat, or ride cymbal. He claims that many of the greats (Rich, Krupa etc) did this as well, but when i look at their videos they seem to play thumbs facing up. Is he right?

It's been bugging me for so long, i'd appreciate any feedback.

Thanks everyone,

Churchy
He must be really old school Pipe Band. Did he put a rubber band around your left thumb to keep it on top of the stick for trad grip as well? I'm not kidding, some did.

Forgetting ride playing for a moment, you should show him videos of any of the younger greats from the last few years of World Pipe Band Solo Championships.

Steve McWhirter 2010 MSR:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=adK1kC2gIKo

Barry Wilson 2009 Hornpipe/Jig:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJt_Nwd-Hmg

Or from 20 years ago...
Willie Kerr 1993 MSR:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zxyc4ZHchhs

Yes, some Pipe Band drummers, especially older ones, play more American to German grip and still play great. And some great set players, especially older ones, play more German grip even while riding- and still play great. Their musicianship transcended what we may analyze as inefficient or in some cases awkward playing. Of course there are many advantages to German grip, depending on the situation.

And I'm no Buddy Rich expert, but when he moves to a floor tom in some solos, it sure looks like he's turning his wrist over.

from about 1:11onward:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWrxHP36N1Q

-John
 
A

Anthony Amodeo

Guest
play the way that is comfortable for you
there are no rules

off the top of my head I cannot think of any jazz players who primarily play the ride cymbal with a german style grip ...and all of the greats that I studied with played with their thumb up ......they never told me anything about right and wrong ....but it was nice to see that what was comfortable to me was also comfortable to Elvin Jones, Joe Porcaro, Dave Weckl, Peter Erskine, and every other person I studied with

I personally play the body or center band of the cymbal thumb up ...unless I am playing the cymbal with the throat of the stick looking for a bit more spread or playing the bell of the cymbal....in those cases I will turn my palm down

in my personal opinion .....which just happens to be the same opinion as most of the best players to ever breathe our air.....while bouncing the bead on the body of the cymbal thumb up technique is most economic

John Riley concurs
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9eh9Zlks_sk

as does Ralph Peterson
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azlD3GvWIzI
 

JohnW

Silver Member
Shelly Manne is the only one off the top of my head who plays the ride more German grip, but even he mixes it up.

Here's an unusual school film on the "history" of percussion featuring cartoons and Shelly demonstrating brushes, ride technique, etc.:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qt0yGbCNr6c

"There are very few absolutes in music." -Alan Dawson

-John
 

Brian

Gold Member
Good posts. John Riley is another.

One distinction I would make is that we should orobably be aware of how the hands are working together. Just starting out, it's probably best to "match" the grips (if you're playing german with left, keep with german on right)

I like french grip on the ride cymbal. one reason is the push/pull of the thumb comes in handy for accents and nuances. Jojo Mayer explained this some in his dvd, iirc.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
It's usually played with the thumb on top of the stick. I guess you have to figure out how much your instructor knows about the drumset-- is he expert at it, with his own valid way of doing it, or is he an opinionated technical guy trying to impose his thing on other areas of drumming, or what? If you think he knows what he's talking about with the drumset, go ahead and try doing what he wants you to do.

Wow, John, cool video! Can you PM me your preferred website to link to? I'd like to share that on the blog.
 

ChurchyDrums

Junior Member
Thankyou all for your replies, it has helped me a lot.

As i'm in a pipe band, i'm forced to play traditional grip ( this isn't an issue, i find it more precise and delicate, as i play a lot of jazz, big band stuff) so i'm mainly just worried about what my right hand will do. I'll take into account what you've all said and put these ideas forward to my drum teacher.

Thanks again everyone,

Churchy
 

richkenyon

Silver Member
Steve Smith explains why he plays French grip on the Ride in his video "Drumset Technique". He describes it as being lighter - which is precisely what you want for the Ride. This has certainly been my experience & I seem to spend a lot of time telling my students not to use French for many other things - meaning I am not a French-grip player as such.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I like French grip on the ride for 2 reasons. My ride is over my floor tom and French is the most natural position to play the ride with. My arm/hand naturally goes to to the position where my thumb is on top. But more importantly, IMO, the thumb on the top pulls the most clicky sound from the ride, which I really go for. THAT'S the real reason for French grip on my ride. If German or American sounded better, I would twist my wrist down a bit, but French grip just plain sounds better on the ride. Plus it's more comfy. win/win. I use German or American on the snare, German or French on the ride, and Argentinian on the kick pedal. (JK about the kick). I play multi-nationally.
 

Stroman

Platinum Member
The best players move effortlessly from one grip to another. As the ample evidence provided here shows, your teacher is simple incorrect. I'll never understand why people are so dogmatic about things like this.
 

BillBachman

Gold Member
Hey all, I have a question regarding ride cymbal technique in regards to grips. My Pipe Band drum instructor bangs on about how essential it is to stay with German grip (Backs of hands facing up) when playing ANYTHING whether it be on a snare drum, hi hat, or ride cymbal. He claims that many of the greats (Rich, Krupa etc) did this as well, but when i look at their videos they seem to play thumbs facing up. Is he right?

It's been bugging me for so long, i'd appreciate any feedback.
That's really bad advice I'm sorry to say. Arky nailed it (and thanks for referencing my video on Vic Firth's channel).

French grip favors finger control and free stroke which is overwhelmingly accepted as the way to go when playing the ride since it rebounds. When playing the bell with the shank of the stick however, there is basically no rebound so in this case American or even German would be the way to go.
 
I'm a little strange. When I play set my left hand is American grip and my right hand is French grip. I didn't intend to play that way, but that's just how things ended up and I don't think there's anything wrong with it.
 

ChurchyDrums

Junior Member
I suppose the only issue i'm having is that my hand is around about 1/4 into german when i'm on the ride, i can't get my hand to sit so my thumb is completely vertical. But i'm not sure whether i'm being picky or not! :p

Churchy
 
Top