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Old 02-15-2018, 11:19 AM
AndeeT AndeeT is offline
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Default The Thumb

So pretty much every fundamental lesson on grip I have used has shown me to make the 'fulcrum' between x joint of x finger and the pad of the thumb.

I have always taken this as the thumb and finger are opposite each other, perfectly perpendicular to the length of the stick. This is how I have played.

However, I noticed from videos online that some drummers (Matt Garstka for example, I am sure there are more), shift the thumb tip-wards, relative to the finger.

'A picture paints a thousand words' an' all that, so, here's what I mean, below.

Does anyone have any comments on this? i.e. the thumbs relation to the finger.
I am yet to try it out on the kit, but am intrigued to see how it is, as it feels quite powerful and articulate at the same time.

I get the feeling it forces you into a more American/French grip, as the sticks is now closer to the fatty pad of the thumb. Even though, when I practice my French grip, I have my fingers perfectly opposite each other as I described above. Have I been Frenching wrong? (This could be quite embarrassing, my wife is French). All though, I see JoJo Frenching with my same thumb/index opposite, and he is Swiss!
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Old 02-15-2018, 03:39 PM
toddbishop toddbishop is offline
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Default Re: The Thumb

I don't quite understand it the way you're describing it-- the first picture looks right and the second picture looks wrong. If somebody who can play uses that second grip, you'd have to ask them the reason for it. Maybe there's some kind of speed technique that's good for.

Personally, to the extent that I use a fulcrum, it's split between the thumb and the first two fingers-- that puts the index finger ahead of the thumb-- the opposite of the second picture.
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Old 02-15-2018, 08:34 PM
AndeeT AndeeT is offline
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Default Re: The Thumb

Cheers Todd. I may have over-exaggerated a bit in the second photo, just to get the point of the thumb being closer to the tip.


Basically, I mean a grip where the thumb is more tip-wards than the fingers. I get the feeling this lets you go play more from the thumb?

Of course, you describe the converse in your own grip. Does your index ever come off of the sticks? In this case I guess the thumb would be more tip-ward than the middle finger? Does having the thumb in between the index and middle fingers put you in a more German position? (Sticks pointing outwards?)
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Old 02-16-2018, 07:29 AM
AndeeT AndeeT is offline
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Default Re: The Thumb

Well...yes, the second picture is ridiculous! I think in my rush to try and get a thread up on the topic I totally mis-understood what I was seeing in Matt Garstka.

What I am seeing (and now trying myself) is where the fulcrum is between the second knuckle of the index finger and the thumb. When you move the thumb more tipwards than the finger in this position, it closes the gap between thumb and hand, and allows great access of fingers to the stick.

I think I now understand what Bill Bachman says about 'to gap or not to gap'. With no gap it is forcing me more on the French side of American grip and gets more fingers working. The resulting stroke (mixing fingers and wrist) feels great!

For some reason, my default grip has always been between German and American. But now I might move it between French and American (just gotta be careful not to hurt those wrists!)

I will post a pic soon.
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Old 02-16-2018, 07:55 AM
AndeeT AndeeT is offline
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Default Re: The Thumb

So, heres's the new pics. Maybe still a slight over-exaggeration on just how far the thumb has moved tipwards, but the basic principle is; fulcrum between thumb and second knuckle of index, with thumb more towards the tip of the stick than the finger. (it's hard to see exactly what's happening so I hope multiple pics help). Anyone use anything close to that?
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Old 02-17-2018, 08:59 AM
martianmambo martianmambo is offline
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Default Re: The Thumb

The first pic you posted in your first post is the "standard" way of gripping the fulcrum. However, there are many variations on that, as you have noticed. I've tried using the index-fingerless grip in the top right pic of your most recent post, but I stopped because it didn't give me the level of control I wanted. I don't have much to add about the index vs thumb fulcrum position because it could simply be an issue of personal comfort or of a relatively unknown technique.

Different grips effect different sound qualities and are suited to different mediums. They also may come from different ttaditions. In the world of rudimental drumming, there are a variety of ways to grip the fulcrum, and different corps have different techniques. I remember about 10-13 years ago or so, the Cavaliers of DCI held their sticks in a german-leaning american grip with their thumb basically on top of the stick, further away from the index finger. Other drumlines, however, have their thumb positioned closer to or touching their index finger. One particular feature that appears to be shared among all DCI drumlines, however, is keeping the space between the thumb and index finger closed, because this affords greater control over the stick, which is important when the goal is for everyone's stick heights and movements to be exactly the same; for drumset drummers, the opposite approach is true, such that the space between the thumb and index finger is open, which allows for a greater degree of looseness and relaxedness in their playing, as well as allowing for the vibration of the stick to let the cymbals shine with a fullness of sound (playing the ride cymbal with the same technique as DCI drummers stops the sound and makes the ride sound stacatto).

Regarding Matt Garstka's grip, my guess is that it's the culmination of years of toying around with grips, and his "weird" grip feels best for him. Or it could be a situation akin to Ari Hoenig's grip, where he just didn't pay attention at all to technique and simply played whichever way came to his hands.

Last edited by martianmambo; 02-17-2018 at 01:12 PM.
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Old 02-17-2018, 03:39 PM
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MrPockets MrPockets is offline
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Default Re: The Thumb

I use the extended thumb grip for finger and push/pull technique.
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Old 02-18-2018, 03:22 AM
AndeeT AndeeT is offline
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Default Re: The Thumb

Cheers guys for the replies, and thanks MartianMambo for the detailed answer and rudimental/DCI drumming examples. Coming from the UK I like to get as much info on DCI stuff as I can, as it is a tradition we are lacking in!

Basically with me trying out new grips my main concern is ‘will it do me any damage’. I have tried new things out in the past (like rotating my wrist inwards while in French position) and some can afford great power/speed/control but they have been very damaging to my wrists/fingers.

I guess with the thumb up position I just need to not hyperextend it too much of I my get in trouble. Though it’s good to know that you use it MrPockets for push-pull.

MartianMambo; I approach the grip in my most recent post as ‘fulcrum on second knuckle on index’, rather than index completely off. I do use ‘index completely off’ when my hands are in a very flat German position and my fulcrum seems to transfer to second/middle finger.

Overall, I am enjoying the benefit of no-gap in American position. I feel that wrist+fingers in this position (with a little bit of that thumb forward) offer a really powerful stroke, even at higher tempo.
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Old 02-18-2018, 04:14 AM
toddbishop toddbishop is offline
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Default Re: The Thumb

Quote:
Originally Posted by AndeeT View Post
So, heres's the new pics. Maybe still a slight over-exaggeration on just how far the thumb has moved tipwards, but the basic principle is; fulcrum between thumb and second knuckle of index, with thumb more towards the tip of the stick than the finger. (it's hard to see exactly what's happening so I hope multiple pics help). Anyone use anything close to that?
Oh yeah, I often use that-- more or less-- my grip moves around a lot, depending on what I'm doing. My thumb is still never out in front. I had a lesson with Dom Famularo years ago, and he demonstrated that as a "power" grip. It looks a little weird the way you're doing it here-- it's a very relaxed grip with a natural curve to the hand.
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Old 02-18-2018, 07:00 AM
AndeeT AndeeT is offline
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Default Re: The Thumb

Thanks Todd. Good to know.

My thumb may be a little weird in the pics as I am took them away from a drum pad/kit. I might try to get my wife to take some pics when I am actually playing with this grip; I think the thumb will still be out in front, but maybe not as extreme. I think the stick rebounding off the pad/head sort of 'shuffles' the thumb into a more natural position.

The other thing is that, throughout the motion of the stroke, the relative position of the thumb and fingers will change, as the thumb sort of rolls the stick over the fingers on the downstroke. The thumb will be more tipwards at the end of the stroke and more butt-wards at the start of the stroke.
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