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  #1  
Old 03-26-2014, 10:48 AM
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Default Drumming pain

Dear drummers, here is the problem.
I'd like to know something more about blisters, fingers pain and how to stop them.

I started playing drums 8 years ago, with a teacher. Everything ok until I started playing harder or playing fast stuff with the right hand.
Blisters and finger pain came out the first time when I used to practice longer or using bigger dynamics on my instrument. Right hand: just blisters, no pain. Left hand: blisters and terrible pain on ring and pinky finger.

I think it doesn't depend on wrong technique, it happens on my left hand because I do a lot of rimshot... well, only rimshots! Ahah
I guess it depends on the vibration but I can't go on hurting myself.

How can I stop blisters without using gloves or tape or stuff like that? But, the most important, how to stop fingers pain? It feels like a deep glass cut, on my pinky and ring finger.

I'm pretty sure there are a lot of guys out there that still can't play comfortable for this reason, from beginners to pro.

Thank you so much guys!
Claudio, from Italy
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  #2  
Old 03-26-2014, 11:00 AM
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Default Re: Drumming pain

Welcome to the forum!

To me it does absolutely sound like a technique-related thing.
There's various ways to play rimshots. Check out this video:

Moeller technique for 2&4 drumset grooves
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lLpSe8yhi5o

It's Bill Bachman explaining how the Moeller technique can be applied in a groove situation and what to pay attention to when applying this technique (it evolved to _avoid_ tension while maintaining speed and providing accents, is also called the whip & flop motion). And to get a rimshot sound _the stick_ has to smash the rim & head, _not_ your hand still gripping the stick at that specific moment. So yes - it is a technique thing!

In case you're interested in having your technique evaluated, vastly improving your (primarily hand) technique or even some skype lessons, contact Bill.
He also has a most excellent website that I've been a subscriber to - I can only recommend it:
drumworkout.com

Forget tape, blisters and all that stuff - go back to the basics, get your technique right and that'll be it.

Last edited by Arky; 03-26-2014 at 11:24 AM.
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  #3  
Old 03-26-2014, 11:01 AM
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Default Re: Drumming pain

well thats not good,just play softer,if you play ,lighter or softer there is more room for dynamics,just play a average volume,you will see you will play more relaxt and you will sound beter to.
When i play rim shots i do not need force to do it,and if your band members want you to play loud ,let them buy you some mics or turn there amps down.
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Old 03-26-2014, 04:45 PM
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Default Re: Drumming pain

Thank you so much guys for your time and for the help...
But, as I said, I play drums 8 years since now and I studied with a pro drummer.. (of course, I'm not a pro, I practice and study everyday to improve my drumming) but moller technique, relaxing while playing, posture.. I already got this stuff and use them everytime I seat behind the set. That's why I can't understand where this pain come from...

Thank you guys
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Old 03-26-2014, 05:20 PM
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Default Re: Drumming pain

It's just something that happens when you play hard. Changing your technique can probably have an effect on it, but there's no way to avoid it if you're a hard player, and some music just calls for that. Don't let anybody tell you that micing a drum and turning it up sounds the same as laying into the head with some force, because it just doesn't. Just like how there's no good substitute for feathering the kick. Point being, if the music you're playing calls for a little brute force behind it, do that.

And just like when learning to play guitar, your fingers will hurt, A LOT, and you'll get blisters, but only for a while. When I get a blister, I pop it, and I keep playing on it. Because it then quickly becomes a callus. Then, unless I go for a while without playing, I never have any sort of discomfort in that spot again.

But I would suggest that you try bigger sticks. I switched to 5Bs, and now it takes less force to get the same hard stroke, because of the added weight. Not to mention, the larger diameter makes it easier to grip and cuts down on excess motion.

Most importantly, though, play what is appropriate to the song. If you're playing "Dexterity", you'd better have some finesse, but if you're playing "Smells Like Teen Spirit", I would expect to see you laying into your heads, because regardless of your technique, it has to sound right and it has to sound good.
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Old 03-27-2014, 12:20 AM
adamosmianski adamosmianski is offline
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Default Re: Drumming pain

Quote:
Originally Posted by TColumbia37 View Post
It's just something that happens when you play hard. Changing your technique can probably have an effect on it, but there's no way to avoid it if you're a hard player….
I'm going to have to disagree with you and agree with Arky. It's totally a technique thing. If you're playing with good technique you should be able to play as hard as you want without injuring yourself. I marched drum and bugle corps for two years and never got a single blister. Look at cats like Jojo Mayer. Dude can play really hard and really fast with fantastic technique and has said himself that he no longer gets blisters after reevaluating his technique.

Speaking of which, Claudio, you should check out Jojo's Secret Weapons for the Modern Drummer DVD. He breaks down technique and strokes to their most fundamental level. It really changed the way I play, and I'm sure it would help with your pain.
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  #7  
Old 03-27-2014, 06:07 AM
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Default Re: Drumming pain

Quote:
Originally Posted by adamosmianski View Post
I'm going to have to disagree with you and agree with Arky. It's totally a technique thing. If you're playing with good technique you should be able to play as hard as you want without injuring yourself.
Ditto. It's like saying that getting blisters is normal when hiking - false. He's been drumming for 8 years. I've been working on drums for over 30 and can count on one hand the number of blisters I've experienced, and they were all technique related. OP- you asked about gloves - wear them if they help you. Many do.
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  #8  
Old 03-27-2014, 07:15 AM
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Default Re: Drumming pain

Sounds to me like you could be choking the sticks. Maybe not enough for most to notice, but enough to do some damage. I had this problem myself for a long time, and it wasn't until I really started to focus on drummers who played loose that I thought my grip had something to do with it. Sure enough, I spent some time revising my technique and playing with a looser grip (it took some time get into the habit of staying loose at live gigs), but after the transition, I never get any soreness in my hands, even during the rare long hours rehearsals.

So next time you're practicing, think about tight you're holding your sticks. You need to ask yourself "How much could I loosen this grip without the sticks faling out?" I play with a bit tighter grip than most drummers even after revising my technique, but I still don't come close to choking the sticks.
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  #9  
Old 03-27-2014, 11:19 AM
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Default Re: Drumming pain

I it's technique...change it. Which e you are working on that change...put a few band aids in your wallet. Use then as required! Denis
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  #10  
Old 03-27-2014, 01:05 PM
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Default Re: Drumming pain

So, let's answer to everyone! :)

TColumbia37
I agree with you. Sometimes is the kind of music you play that needs more power, more intensity of sound, more presence, and I personally love when I can get out of the drums the fullest and warmest sound possible. Of course, finesse when needed. Dynamics are everything in drumming. I used to play 5Bs and 5As for a very long long time.. from about 8-10 months I switched back to 7As making the opposite of what you told me. I thought "less wood, less weight, maybe less pain". I'll try to pick up another pair of 5B and just try again.. thank you

adamosmianski
Thanks for suggesting me jojo's dvd, I'll definetly check it out. Anyway, in my opinion, Jojo is an awesome drummer, that's sure. but not really a heavy hitter... When I say "playing hard" I mean "Chad Smith" ahahah. Jojo plays jazz, fusion, progressive, drum & bass and all that stuff, with a lot of bounce, technique and ghost notes.. We are talking about drumsticks broken in the middle after some hours of playing because of very powerful rimshots.. ahahah :)

MileHighDrummer
Thanks for the advice. Already tried gloves and just after 2 days of playing I hated them more then every drum tool I ever bought, ahah!

EarthRocker
I pay attention to not choking the stick. I let the stick move in my hand, the hold is relaxed. But I can literally feel some kind of vibrations coming from the wood and passing through my pinky finger. It's like the drumhead, together with the hard surface of the rim, produces a damn hard vibration, it goes through the wood of the stick and then is conducted in my finger. May this depend from the tuning? I tune my snare really tight
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  #11  
Old 03-27-2014, 02:03 PM
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Default Re: Drumming pain

Quote:
Originally Posted by claudio.feiez View Post
Thank you so much guys for your time and for the help...
But, as I said, I play drums 8 years since now and I studied with a pro drummer.. (of course, I'm not a pro, I practice and study everyday to improve my drumming) but moller technique, relaxing while playing, posture.. I already got this stuff and use them everytime I seat behind the set. That's why I can't understand where this pain come from...

Thank you guys
The reality probably is that your technique has slipped over the past years without your noticing. I bet you 50 bucks that Bill Bachman would find plenty of things wrong (not to criticize you, but rather to make the point).

Go ahead, get a few Skype lessons, if after all that, you decide that it WASN'T a technique issue, I'll pay up.

The true reality is that pain = you are doing something wrong. Unless you have a medical issue, of course.

I'm 46 and I play hard. Metal band, rim shots on all back beats etc.
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  #12  
Old 03-27-2014, 03:05 PM
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Default Re: Drumming pain

To reduce pain start doing warm ups everyday at different tempos. One Exercise I like to do using wrists and fingers is to play

RRRRRRRR
L LL L L L L L
RRRRRRR
LL L L L L L
RRRRRR
LL L L L L
RRRRR
LL L L L
RRRR
L L L L
RRR
L L L
RR
L L
R
L
RR
L L
RRR
L L L
RRRR
L L L L etc... And repeat that starting out slow and then gaining speed. When you get it to the fastest you can comfortably play it slow it way down and take large full strokes to relax your muscles. IF you need any other exercises you can let me know.

As far as the Blisters go I won't call you a liar and say that you need to change your technique. Because there are several things that can be causing this issue from sweat to sensitive hands. you may want to work on creating some calluses. The best way to do that is put a little bit of lotion on your hands before you start playing. It will soften up the hands to eventually strengthen the skin without getting the nasty calluses.

But like I said the best thing to do is get a good warm up routine even if you don't plan on really playing that day you should still do it. I always do 15 minutes of warm ups a day just to stay loose and to reduce fatigue later on. Just don't kill yourself.

I'm sorry if that exercise took up too much space I tried to shorten it by not finishing it.
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  #13  
Old 03-27-2014, 04:31 PM
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Default Re: Drumming pain

When I first started playing like 15 years ago I have the same problem. I would get blisters and bleed all over my sticks. Then I learned how to properly hold a stick and use finger control. I haven't had a blister in at least 10 years. I agree with the others that have said this sounds like a technique issue.
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  #14  
Old 03-27-2014, 05:19 PM
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Default Re: Drumming pain

absolutely a technique issue... just because you studied with someone and know to stay relaxed etc, etc... doesn't prevent you from falling back into bad habits...

sounds like you're gripping too tight if you're getting blisters. I'll offer one suggestion, go up a size or two in the sticks you're using... it should help you relax your hands a bit and not have to play so hard.

If you're convinced that your technique is solid after 8 years of playing (not a terribly long time really) -- then you'll have to deal w/the blisters and/or get some gloves.
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  #15  
Old 03-27-2014, 05:31 PM
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Default Re: Drumming pain

See, I have to disagree with everybody saying that it's always a technique issue. Sure, many times it can be, but that's not the only possible answer. I get blisters from time to time. Some days I have to rehearse with three different bands all in a row, and I play fairly hard in those bands. The six hours of consecutive hard hitting and rimshots take their toll sometimes. And I have asked my instructor, on multiple occasions to just watch me play and evaluate my technique, especially my left hand, and every time he tells me that I have great technique. I've noticed that switching to a middle finger fulcrum reduces the stress on my hand caused by rimshots by a bit, but just marginally.
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  #16  
Old 03-27-2014, 06:02 PM
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Default Re: Drumming pain

Maybe your going through hand puberty lol seriously though my hands are all calliced up but that can be contributed to when i first started..i had no real technique the first yr i played but the blisters did stop after a while..could be the amount of time and the speed your playing at..technique should help though..no reason for you to get blisters from doing a double stroke roll.
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Old 03-27-2014, 08:17 PM
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Default Re: Drumming pain

I agree that it sounds like a technique issue.

Check out 'moller'....

I started losing my callouses once I saw Dave Weckl describing finger technique on his early VHS Tape(tells you how long ago THAT was).

I found that as I became better and better at controlling the stroke with my fingers, I had just as much power...with greater endurance and control.

I can say that the sound is not the same as the sound I get from a stiffer stroke...but I like the more full sustained sound I get now more then the muffled thud from the stiff wrist/hand/finger stroke.

it was not an instant fix for me...took a few months of daily work...but it all worked out.

ANYONE can make this transition...read up...watch the videos...practice...and DONT GIVE UP!

Good luck...keep us informed re: your progress!
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  #18  
Old 03-27-2014, 08:20 PM
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Default Re: Drumming pain

Quote:
Originally Posted by claudio.feiez View Post
adamosmianski
Thanks for suggesting me jojo's dvd, I'll definetly check it out. Anyway, in my opinion, Jojo is an awesome drummer, that's sure. but not really a heavy hitter... When I say "playing hard" I mean "Chad Smith" ahahah. Jojo plays jazz, fusion, progressive, drum & bass and all that stuff, with a lot of bounce, technique and ghost notes.. We are talking about drumsticks broken in the middle after some hours of playing because of very powerful rimshots.. ahahah :)
If you're breaking sticks in them in the middle after a few hours, you have the wrong technique or the wrong size sticks or both. Try some heavier sticks so you don't have to hammer down the rimshots so much. I'm not talking about going to 5Bs. Try some 2Bs or some Vic Firth American Classic Metal sticks. I once had a LM402 and when I played rimshots with 2Bs, it was louder than a damn shotgun without using excessive force.

Also, check the angle of your snare. Maybe a slight change of angle/height will allow you to play rimshots without injuring yourself.
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Old 03-29-2014, 07:25 AM
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Default Re: Drumming pain

For blisters, here's something I got from a bass forum. I was doing some fill ins on bass and getting blisters on the ends of my fingers since I don't play that much. Hemp oil. They sell it at the Body Shop in the mall. Dampen a cloth and lightly touch it to where you are picking up the blisters. It worked for me.

As far as the pain, maybe try sticks of a different wood. A great one is the Vic Firth SD2 Bolero which is like a 2B but made of maple. There's very little shock and it's big enough you can make some noise. The maple won't splinter up like hickory but will dent and chew up if you keep at it with rim shots or edge of cymbal stuff. The large size will last awhile though and the light weight won't make it feel like baseball bats. The SD10 Swinger is a bit bigger than a 5B but very controllable. Also maple, and there's very little shock.

After years of playing with either SD10s for louder gigs or SD4s for normal gigs, I've recently switched to hickory sticks. I can really feel the shock in them. What that has done is help clean up my technique as I can feel when the shock is there and when it's not. I have a buddy who tours with Y&T which is a fairly loud rock ensemble. He does this thing where he kind of throws the stick down into the drum and his hand sort of opens up right at the point where it hits the snare. Another local teacher showed me a similar thing and I've noticed a few good players doing this. Using the shock as an indicator, I'm starting to get the hang of it. A very subtle loosening up of the grip at the point of impact and then catching it.

The other thing I learned a long time ago from a big band drummer was to get the stick off the drum promptly. Check out some Jim Chapin videos on this. Burying the stick takes away from the volume, no matter how hard you smack it into the drum. You can get a lot of volume with less effort by getting the stick back off the head and letting the drum do the work.
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Old 03-29-2014, 02:18 PM
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Default Re: Drumming pain

I don't get blisters anymore. In fact, even my callouses are going away. I use bare sticks and they're hickory. I guess after just years of playing, I developed good technique without really even trying. Not sure what I did to achieve this, but I do hold the stick mostly with my index and thumb using the other fingers to propel the sticks. I do use Moeller Technique. I didn't learn it on purpose. It just came naturally with lots of playing.

My problem is just general soreness in my arms. I'll play hard for about 3 or 4 hours at practice, and the next day my arms are so damn sore. I thought this would go away after a year or so, but they still get incredibly sore and I can't sleep on my right side after playing because my shoulder won't allow me too. After a few minutes, it hurts bad when I lay down on my right side. It sucks because I get a morning headache if I sleep on my left side too long.
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Old 03-30-2014, 04:03 PM
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Default Re: Drumming pain

certain stick finishes can automatically give me blisters. Back when I used Vic Firth I got way more blisters because of the tackier finish. I use Pro Mark now, which almost feel like they have no finish, and rarely get blisters. I don't sweat a lot either, so if you're a heavy sweater, then that could contribute to your issues.

As far as rimshots go, certain drums with certain heads at high tension can give me instant pain, and I can quickly tell there is an issue. Die cast hoops are the worst for this for me, and I don't like the sound they produce anyway, so I avoid using them. 2 ply heads on a shallow brass snare cranked up high also give me instant pain and weird vibrations. A single ply reverse dot head on that same snare eliminates that problem though, so maybe try a head change. And, oak sticks tend to give me hand pains too, and I can feel the difference in vibrations versus hickory.

Simply try to change what you're currently doing as much as you can, because you don't wanna go on getting severe pain every time you play. That will only lead to serious complications down the road to where you may not be able to play at all, so it's worth sacrificing something here or there to ensure future playing.
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Old 03-30-2014, 05:11 PM
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Default Re: Drumming pain

Thank you so much guys for your help!

Many of you talked about using thicker sticks, like 5B or 2B, but I'm not sure that's going to help. Yesterday I practiced for 2 hours using 5B and it's pretty much the same, just with more weight on my hand. Also I don't like big sticks because it's much easier breaking cymbals, and that's terrible. 5A Vic Firth is the maximum for me.

Changing heads for this problem.. sorry but I can't do this. I spent a lot of time to find the right sound, the right tools... I prefer blisters than playing drums that doesn't sound the way I want..

Anyway thank you all again guys, other suggestions are welcome! :)
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Old 03-30-2014, 05:52 PM
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Default Re: Drumming pain

I have to disagree with some folks here.

Technique is probably the first thing to look for, indeed. However it is perfectly possible that blisters occur when you start playing more frequently, faster or harder.

Example: I used to have blisters all the time when I played on my acoustic kit. Now that I play on an e-kit, I rarely have blisters. Nothing to do technique, but simply with the effect that I had to hit the acoustic kit harder to be audible (I had some very bad earbuds at the time). Not a technique issue.

Another example: I only started doing double-bass when I had been drumming for, let's say, 8 years. A couple of months later I was diagnosed with a tear in the muscle that connects your core with your right leg. Even though this seems as a bad technique as well, and it possibly has something to do with it, it's probably more to do with the time I put into aggressive double-bass exercises. I stressed the muscles too much, even though they were not used for it - which caused a tear. (One of the reasons why I am afraid to go back to practising double bass a lot.)

--> Not everything is technique related. Make sure you take your time, don't stress your body too much (a little is necessary, though) and don't play too loud.

PS: how did you manage to hurt your pinky? I play all kinds of styles (jazz, rock, pop, funk) and I doubt I actively use my pinky or my ring finger.
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Old 04-02-2014, 03:37 PM
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Default Re: Drumming pain

Just to let you guys understand, this happenned yesterday. Brand new sticks (8D). 2 hours later... Fortunately no finger pain, just blisters. But I'm working on loosening a little bit more my grip

(click on the pic to zoom)

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Old 04-04-2014, 07:33 AM
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Aeolian Aeolian is offline
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Default Re: Drumming pain

That looks like the sort of break that happens from burying the stick. The stick bends, fatigues and splits along the grain.

Sound comes from the head vibrating. The more the head can vibrate, the louder the sound. Pressing the stick into the head limits it's vibration and results in less sound. The harder you bang on it trying to get more volume, the more it chokes and you pretty quickly get to a point of diminishing returns with hitting harder. You start going though sticks, heads and cymbals.

The other part of technique is getting the sound out of the instrument efficiently. Snap the stick off the drum or cymbal and let it do the work. Your sticks and your hands will thank you.

The other thing I've discovered more recently is posture. Slouching or awkward posture can result in sore back, shoulders, arms or many other things. You also seem to be able to get better sound out of the instrument when physically grounded with a stable posture.
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  #26  
Old 04-04-2014, 08:38 AM
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Default Re: Drumming pain

Disregarding the split down the center, the chopping on your stick looks weird. If that is from rim shots, something is wrong. Cymbals causing that would be a bit more acceptable, but not with that split. It really looks like someone shot your stick with a .22 rifle. It also seems a bit high on the stick, but that could just be the illusion of photography (I use different sticks so the logo is a useless measure).

I would consider everything everyone said: stick size (for me the fatter the better, easier to hold and swing), wood of stick (oak sucks), angle of snare, head type and tension, hoop type, how far or close you sit in relation to the snare, how tight you hold the sticks (does the logo revolve while you play?), your height in relation to the snare, and definitely check your wrists. If they aren't straight you can hurt your hands.

Any chance you could make a video?
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  #27  
Old 04-04-2014, 08:49 PM
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Default Re: Drumming pain

Playing hard with 8D sticks? That doesn't compute for me. I know guys like Dennis Chambers can really crack the drums with 7A's...but there aren't many drummers around like Dennis Chambers.

Lots of pad work has really helped my hands - I still get the occasional blister but it's very rare. Most of my hands' contact areas with the sticks are like cured leather. Don't feel a thing.

Have you tried playing with the butt end of the stick? It takes some getting used to, and it's harder to finesse certain strokes, but a few months ago I started using the butt end of a 5B for my snare hand (after two decades of playing!), and I can't believe the crack I'm getting with such moderate effort. So many years of wasted energy...
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