A question for Dave Weckl..

moxman

Silver Member
Saw Dave the other night on his drum clinic tour.. got to ask him a question and chatted a bit after the show. But now I'm kicking myself , as I thought of a much better question to ask him! So.. I'll throw it out here and see what you drumheads think..

Note: I'm a converted trad-to-matched grip player, fully on board with what Dave preaches about the middle finger fulcrum, playing relaxed, using the rebound, wrapping the hand loosely around the stick with the pointer finger gap (open) at the front end and playing from the back of the hand/fingers. I've been playing this way for about the last 12+ years and love it - but there's one thing that has always puzzled me - which is; (drum roll please.......)

So.. Question:
If you are playing a crescendo buzz roll over a bar of 4 beats for example.. going from a whisper to a scream, do you shift your hand pressure to the first finger (for the fine buzz roll) and by the time you reach a loud buzz roll (where the stick heights are at neck height) shift the hand pressure to the back of the hand?
Or do you use the same weighting throughout?

My problem is that I learned to play a super smooth buzz roll 40 years ago using the first finger-light pressure-circular technique.. and trying to do that from the middle finger fulcrum always just feels weird to me.. I can do it but ... It's similar to the feeling you get doing a buzz roll with the pinky fulcrum .. kind of unbalanced.. What do you think?
 

Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
Dunno about Weckl, but my fulcrum point certainly changes according to what I need to do. It's forever shifting between fore finger and middle finger......as does the amount of pressure I apply too. From pinching it quite tightly between the tip of my forefinger and thumb, to loosely rolling across the middle finger......and just about everywhere in between.

I've heard Tommy Igoe describing the fulcrum as being a living, breathing thing that shifts and adapts according to the playing application. I certainly subscribe to that summation.
 

BillRayDrums

Gold Member
From my experience...the "middle finger fulcrum" is meant to be one technique in the bag of many... so if you begin to shift your grip backwards towards the ring and pinky fingers and train the index finger to be a guide of sorts then that becomes a good "riding" or "general purpose" stance.

Of course, you'll want to go to what feels comfortable on the buzz rolls and that's usually gonna be in the front of your hand, the pinchy thing. Then when you go back to GP then your grip relaxes.

The whole idea with moving the grip farther back in your hand is to promote relaxation and as a result, a better flow.


FWIW the whole Weckl/Gruber thing kinda comes out of the Alex Duthart school of technique; I studied with Malcolm Rosenberger who was a student of Mr. D's and the things he was teaching me in 1989-1990 were those Scottish drumming techniques that in the late 1990's began to surface as the "Way of the Weckl"... or whatever that was. (Hey, I had a mullet too...) :D Either way all those drummers mentioned were a huge influence.
 
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brentcn

Platinum Member
So.. Question:
If you are playing a crescendo buzz roll over a bar of 4 beats for example.. going from a whisper to a scream, do you shift your hand pressure to the first finger (for the fine buzz roll) and by the time you reach a loud buzz roll (where the stick heights are at neck height) shift the hand pressure to the back of the hand?
Totally. Yes. Great approach. Utilize until it's comfortable. Practice loud to quiet as well.

And if you're really clever, you can adjust the path of the sticks to sweep across the head as each buzz stroke progresses, so as to soften the initial attack of each stroke (a.k.a. the Buddy Rich "whip cream" roll).
 

dmacc_2

Well-known member
Opinions can vary greatly depending on the person.

I was taught the middle finger fulcrum back in the mid-1980's by an orchestral percussionist and applied it to when I played the set. Since then, I've never used anything else while playing matched grip except for when I'm playing the ride cymbal. Even when I'm playing the ride, depending on how I place my hand (thumb up or more in a "matched grip" posture) I may go back to the middle finger fulcrum.

I'm certainly no Dave Weckl, so perhaps if I was trying to emulate him I might find I'd need to change.

Do what works best for you.
 

Jeff Almeyda

Senior Consultant
The person best qualified to answer your question is most likely Bill Bachman, you should PM him. His depth of knowledge on this stuff is unparalleled and his doubles and buzz rolls look and sound just perfect.

I will agree with Bill Ray and say that there is no "one size fits all technique". The middle finger fulcrum is great for big Moeller strokes and not so great for buzz rolls, for instance. Your hands should be trained so that they instinctively move to the proper grip for what you are doing at that instant.

Just FYI, as a kid I studied with Joe Morello, who most definitely did NOT hold Fred Gruber and his methodology in high esteem. I only say this because I want you to know that acceptance of his ideas is not universal in the drumming community. Don't get hung up on having to do it Freddie's way just because Smitty and Weckl did. Those men were already world famous, legendary players before they ever met Freddy.
 

moxman

Silver Member
you can adjust the path of the sticks to sweep across the head as each buzz stroke progresses, so as to soften the initial attack of each stroke (a.k.a. the Buddy Rich "whip cream" roll).
Yes! That's the way I learned it back in the day.. Small overlapping strokes (sound-wise not the sticks) so each buzz stroke is kind of "pp-ff-pp" moving in small ellipses off the head.. Kind of a blend.. Like whip cream!
 

uniongoon

Gold Member
I had that night in my phone as a reminder and I still missed it. Haven't seen Weckl since he did Toronto back in the late 90's.
 

GeoB

Gold Member
I shift between trad and French. Most of the time I'm in trad and I sometimes shift to French on the right hand for ride articulation.

I play a little open at times and then I probably use the boxer grip, which might be American or German. But I do not use that often as open playing is a style that is not natural for me and I can flub it if I lose concentration.
 

vxla

Silver Member
Personally I don't change like that, nor do I change any pressure in my fingers whatsoever. I'll change stroke speed, the number of bounces, and stick height, to get a smooth-as-glass roll from niente to fortissimo.
 

BillRayDrums

Gold Member
How many of you guys put on heavy work gloves, play for a bit then switch back to gloveless if not for heightening awareness of tactile input?

Your sticks are not only striking devices, they are also "sensory input devices".

Something else to work on, LOL...
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
My 2 cents (maybe worth less than 2 cents): Count me among those who don't believe any one approach to grip suits all needs. I use middle finger fulcrum when it feels right.

As someone pointed out, your hands are getting feedback from the stick that can help you sort of intuitively adjust as needed depending on what you need to do. For example, if I'm hitting hard, without really thinking about it, I adjust my grip to alleviate stress on my hand from the rebound of the stick; for double stroke rolls, I'm engaging fingers to make the second stroke more evenly match the first; buzz rolls? I pinch the stick between first finger and thumb. With lots of practice, these things become second nature and you don't have to think about them so much, your hands just sort of do it.

I do think it's worth noting that incredible drummers don't necessarily agree on what's correct. The differences between Morello and Gruber are a good example. Moeller, Gladstone, French grip, American grip, German grip, traditional, matched... all of them have their proponents. And that's not even getting into the controversies over drum corps styles. All of them have their masters who can back up what they say with their playing. So what does that tell you? You don't have to be a genius to figure out that it can be done more than one way. And each has strengths and weaknesses, so why not learn as many as you can and take advantage of having more tools in your toolkit?

Speaking of Freddie Gruber, I'm going to make a controversial statement here (because that's what I do): I liked the playing of Neil Peart and Dave Weckl better before they studied with Gruber. Now, I have no doubt that the methods they learned from Gruber are better for them in terms of avoiding injury and playing more relaxed. But listening to early Rush and Chick Corea Elektric Band records now, those guys just attacked the drums in a way that I don't think is as exciting anymore. Maybe it's not fair to blame the technical change, but that's how I see it.

I agree that Bill Bachmann is a fantastic source. I think Bill's technique is world class and, although I've never studied with him, everything he says in videos or on this forum about teaching passes the smell test for me.
 

moxman

Silver Member
That's funny.. I've heard that before as well, but I have a slightly different take on it. I found Dave's playing with Chic Electrik band a bit too methodical and clean.. I don't know how to describe it - maybe sterile? When he put out the CD with the Dave Weckl band about 10+ years ago.. I thought he really was punching out the groove and kicking it up a notch. As for Niel.. on the video I saw with him playing Freddies techniques - he switched to trad grip as well.. and I thought he looked like a fish out of water.. kind of stiff and handcuffed. Either way, I'd still love to play as well as those cats!

Thanks for all the comments, sounds to me like the consensus is 'it's okay to modify your grip depending on the situation.. and the hand position naturally shifts around a bit depending on what you need to hit; whether it's riding a cymbal or playing a quiet buzz roll or bouncing the sticks up to your eyeballs!'

I've tried it both ways over the years.. the same fulcrum for all.. and the shifting grip for special situations... and after all that I still can't make up my mind LoL! Both approaches can work.. but I think I lean to the shifting grip as feeling more natural out of the box.

P.S. Man I love Youtube! Just looked it up:

Dave Weckl double stroke roll
http://youtu.be/dh4eTUNtCSY

and Ed Shaugnessy 'The Whip Cream Roll'
http://youtu.be/ZBgTkHVe8YM
 
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drums360

Junior Member
Funnily enough I was at a Dave Weckl intensive yesterday and this question was asked of him. He said that a press roll is not meant to be that of balance or fulcrum it is, after all, a pressure roll. He said he uses mostly pressure from the thumb over the index and middle fingers which wrap underneath.

After all the explanation he said he tried mostly to play doubles instead of a buzz as keeping time with doubles is much easier than a press roll.
 

moxman

Silver Member
Beautiful! Thanks for posting that.. now I can stop kicking myself for not asking him that!

Interesting answer.. aiming for doubles instead of a buzz, which makes a lot of sense. I have tried that; like most people I use doubles for the most part.. and if you can create the same sound of a press roll using pure doubles that would avoid having to transition when you open it up. I'll try working on that some more..

Also using the thumb.. to be honest I never thought of that! Been concentrating more on the fingers and hand pressure. Off to the woodshed..

The reason I asked this is that sometimes in the bands I play in the material calls for a short 1 bar snare crescendo roll..to the point of thundering.. as a transition efffect into another section for example... and I always feel like I could play them better.. this gives me something to train my sights on as I'm after perfection here.. thanks!
 
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BillBachman

Gold Member
Hey guys, this is quite the loaded question. As always, my short answer would be something like, "Maybe, sometimes & depends." Here I go:

I think it's foolish to lock yourself into one fulcrum or the other (1st finger or second finger). Both are great tools for different applications. Plus, sometimes it's somewhere between the two and sometimes there's pretty much no fulcrum (like when the wrist does pretty much the whole job while the fingers just lightly contact the stick).

As a general guideline, the first finger fulcrum should be used when playing any combination of low/light/fast when lots of finger control is needed. This also sets up the all important trigger finger for the finesse up front. AND, second finger fulcrum (or sometimes no fulcrum/general grip) should be used when playing bigger slower strokes where the wrist or arm is primarily driving and there's less need for finger micro-management.

Another general guideline: If the wrist can do it, let the wrist do it. If the wrist would struggle at all, then the fingers come in to bail it out (and the back fingers take priority over the front--don't micro-manage up front with the index if the ring & middle finger can get the job done). If the whole hand would struggle, then the arm comes in to bail it out (either through a general big motion or pumping motion, or through Moeller whipping style where the wrist motion is replaced by a forearm motion).

Now, I know there are guys who've thrown out the blanket statement, "If there's no gap between your thumb and index finger that means you're tight." That's a terribly incomplete blanket statement and I've had many students come to me with tendonitus because they were squeezing the crap out of the stick in order to "stay relaxed" maintaining an open gap. (These guys should specify that an open gap assumes you're playing second finger fulcrum, spelling that out would help prevent injury.) From that standpoint, if you go exclusively second finger fulcrum with a gap then you're quite often shooting yourself in the foot as far as high speed & low dynamic playing is concerned, and anything requiring downward pressure. (Also note, second finger fulcrum does not assume there's a gap, there's a time to have no gap when using both first and second finger fulcrum.)

And now, "The Gap." It's not about a gap or no gap, it's about the placement and function of the thumb. When there's a gap the thumb is functionally on the side of the stick, when there's no gap the thumb is functionally on the top of the stick. Both are fantastic and fantastically vital for completely capable and relaxed hands. (Yes, having no gap allows you to play many things infinitely more relaxed!) The beauty of American grip is that the thumb (and hand) is at about a 45 degree angle such that the thumb can easily jump to either of these roles in the blink of an eye--and it will need to quite often. The placement of the thumb in American grip borrows on the attributes of German or French grip. Pure German and French grip are "one trick ponies" where the thumb is relegated to one or the other (not that that's bad of course, I use lots of French grip in addition to my primary American, and occasionally a tad bit of German).

And finally the buzz question: If you play a buzz roll that crescendo's from ppp to ff, you'd start with first finger fulcrum and only your index finger (2nd finger fulcrum would be a way too big/heavy/klunky tool for this level of finesse). As you crescendo and more pressure is needed you'd gradually add fingers one by one toward the back of the hand to easily add more pressure.

And that's my take, and the length and detail there of is why I put off responding to this question for so long! (That and the fact that I recently had a baby boy.) :)
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Bill had a baby drummer! Really, congratulations Bill.

Whatever way feels best to you. On a crescendo buzz roll I keep a first finger fulcrum from ppp to fff. Not saying it's right or proper, but it works for me. My stroke gets larger that's all.
 

feldiefeld

Senior Member
When I do a buzz roll, my matched grip hand loosens up even more than usual, with my pinky and ring finger coming off of the stick. This is pretty much the only time I ever take these fingers off the stick. The middle finger and thumb create a little hinge for the stick and the pointer finger is on top, loosely. Just my 2 cents!
 
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