A REVELATION.

whitecatcafe

Senior Member
So for some reason, about 2 weeks ago, I got the crazy idea to try traditional grip in my left hand. I have worked on traditional grip on and off in 2011 and 2012, then gave up because it wasn't really working out. Anyway, when I came back to it 2 weeks ago, it felt awkward at first but then it got better and better.

I know this might sound crazy but playing traditional grip with my left hand felt very 'natural' to me. This is weird because holding the stick that way is very unnatural, in essence. I then went on a YouTube marathon, watching as many clips of Tony Williams I could find, because I like the way his left hand looks and moves. I came across a 3 part Tony Williams drum clinic from 1985, and something he said during the Q & A section immediately resonated within me;

"They say, well, they want both hands to be the same. Well, I don't believe that. I like the fact that I have a left hand and a right hand, and that my left hand has to be coordinated with my right hand. It's like life; if you have 2 people that are the same, you're gonna get bored. People, you know.. I mean, you need spice in life. So using the traditional grip in the left hand.. and uh.. this grip in the right hand (matched grip) means that I have to coordinate these things and I get a sense of a 'right' and a 'left'. I'm not playing with two right hands and I'm not playing with two left hands. So that has a lot to do with my technique and philosophy also, umm.. Umm, the matched grip, is, is not some.. I mean I.. what it means is that if you don't play.. if you're not able to play with traditional grip in the left hand, it's like saying you wanna be a piano player but you never wanna play with the black keys... or... something like that. So anyway, there's a whole vocabulary of things people have played for years using this grip (traditional grip), and if you don't wanna learn those things, it's sort of like saying you don't particularly wanna learn all there is to know about drumming. And good drummers, to me, are those that wanna take advantage of all there is to be played.... I can just tell you that the mind works in a certain way, in that, if you hold your hand this way... See, drumming is very sensory, and if I hold my hand in a certain way, my mind is going to think in a certain way. And if I hold it this way, (matched grip) my mind thinks in a way, and if I hold it this way (traditional grip) I'm not going to think of certain things, and if I hold it this way (matched grip), I'm not going to think of certain things. That's what I'm saying.. it's real simple."

I just had to write down everything he said, word for word, because it made so much sense to me, and I totally agree with him and can relate to what he said, especially when he talks about the grips influencing the way his mind works. I think that some drummers are more prone to matched grip while others will gravitate more towards traditional grip, and this depends largely on their character as a person and the way their minds work. I am convinced now that I'm more of a traditional grip type of person... maybe because my brain happens to operate that way?

I've been doing a bunch of left hand Moeller stuff as well as rudiments and surprisingly, I'm picking stuff up relatively quickly and easily. I mean, I have worked on some of this stuff about 2 years ago (and haven't touched on it since) but I feel like everything is finally coming together. My thumb, forefingers, wrist... they all seem to know exactly what to do, and they're moving exactly the way I want them to. It's a little crazy, because the traditional grip is essentially a lot more involved than the matched grip, anyone will tell you that.

I wonder if anyone else has gone through what I'm going through?
 

Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
Know exactly what you mean.

I've certainly tinkered around with trad grip ever since my old man showed it to me as a kid, but I never fully took it to task or spent any length of practice time trying to develop it. I've predominantly been a matched grip player my whole drumming life. A few years ago I sprained my wrist and noticed the niggle caused some discomfort when playing matched. I flipped the stick and was able to continue without the aggravation and pretty much haven't looked back since then. I find I play far more traditional than matched these days. Like Tony suggests, the greatest freedom I personally noticed was no longer working myself into a lather because my hands didn't match identically. Honestly, I've found that aspect a godsend and I've carried that mindset back over to matched playing. Although my right and left hands don't always look like a mirror image of one another, I honestly could no longer give a toss. As long as I'm hearing the sound off the drum head that I'm intending to hear, I'm relaxed with hands that aren't clones of one another.

Quite honestly, I've found the shift in my thought process from beating myself up because of how they look, to concentrating on how they sound, how they co-ordinate and how they express, to be completely liberating.

It's an argument that might not be for everyone. But it's certainly for me.
 

whitecatcafe

Senior Member
Quite honestly, I've found the shift in my thought process from beating myself up because of how they look, to concentrating on how they sound, how they co-ordinate and how they express, to be completely liberating.
Such a good point! And I totally get the sense of being 'liberated'. Glad I wasn't alone.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
Thank you for the comments from Tony Williams. Excellent point !

I believe that the kind of music that is played favors one type of grip or the other.

I have always played with traditional grip. I play rock, R&B, blues etc. Most of my playing requires louder more aggressive drumming.
I think this type of music is better suited for matched grip.

For instance I would love to be able to hit my second rack tom and floor tom harder without rotating my body so much. I think I could if I used matched grip.
And I think I could be more consistent with left hand rim shots using matched grip.

I think traditional grip works best for jazz, and softer types of music.

.
 

Stroman

Platinum Member
I switch up during the course of a gig, sometimes even one song.

I learned to play traditional grip, did drum corp, etc and my early intensive study was with that grip. And I still have a certain sensitivity and feel with trad that I can't replicate matched.

On the other hand, matched grip offers power and a different kind of reach around the kit, as Jim alluded to.

Personally, I like the freedom having both grips at my disposal offers. When I was younger, and switched to a bigger kit and louder types of playing, I cursed my teacher for making me learn trad, because my matched playing was really rough at first, lol. Now I see all the advantages of each grip. I could make do with either one, but I don't have to! Thank goodness.
 

Liebe zeit

Silver Member
I should try trad some time. Currently my grips mix German (left hand) and French (right) for some reason. It works but it's not strictly matched.
 

davezedlee

Senior Member
i think it will depend a lot on your musical style preferences

from a post on drumforum.org a while back:

http://www.drumforum.org/index.php?/topic/85161-dave-weckl-on-matched-vs-traditional-grip/

I recently read a long article about Dave Weckl in the May/June issue of Drumhead magazine In it, he talks about the some prominent players switching to Matched Grip, and the problems that Traditional Grip can cause.

Tell me what you think.

There's been a noticeable switch to matched grip in the last few years from some longtime practitioners of traditional grip, including Steve Gadd (a few years ago he was seen playing matched grip at a recording session at Skyline Studios in New York City). This doesn't surprise Weckl, who admits that he, Steve Smith and Vinnie Colaiuta are all experiencing hand problems stemming from using traditional grip. In a surprising move, jazz drummer's jazz drummer Jack DeJohnette has changed to matched grip, according to Weckl. This in addition to Teutonic powerhouse Thomas Lang's recent switch to matched grip. Dave remarks, "We're all experiencing hand problems from playing traditional. There is a definite thing with this grip, beating the piss out of your thumb for 40, 50 years. Repetitive stress is going to take its toll, and it's definitely taken its toll on me-I've got bone spurs, arthritis, all kinds of crap going on in my left hand. The funny thing is I generally don't feel it when I play. I feel it at times, but it just takes me a minute to get back into playing consistently and in position where the fatty/muscle part between the thumb and first finger cradle the stick more, and then I don't feel it so much. I don't know if Steve (Gadd) actually has any trauma to his hand or not. The only thing that he did tell me person-to-person was that playing matched grip is just easier. And Thomas Lang is switching to mostly matched now, for the same reason. He said it's just so much maintenance and he's also got his own injury issues."
 

Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
Tell me what you think.
I think if you're experiencing pain, discomfort or injury as a result of what you're doing, then you revise it, adapt it, change it or stop doing it altogether. That goes for anything, up to and including playing traditional grip.

As for the blanket belief that traditional grip is automatically the root cause of problems for every player, in every situation, well I'd have to dispute it. There's been far too many life long players of trad grip who have successfully retired unscathed. The argument is obviously not without merit in some cases, but that doesn't make it an absolute truth either.
 

whitecatcafe

Senior Member
i think it will depend a lot on your musical style preferences
Absolutely. I mean Thomas Lang playing heavy rock stuff most of the time with traditional grip is kind of silly. I would love to know if Virgil Donati is experiencing any problems. So far, I haven't heard anything.

I have my snare tilted, kind of like Keith Carlock so I don't have to work that hard for the back beat. If you look at both Steve Gadd and Dave Weckl, you'll notice that their snares aren't tilted as much. I think this might have something to do with it. Keith seems to only play traditional grip.
 

Derek

Silver Member
After a chain if events, or say, as life situations came up, I found myself on another "sabbatical" from the drums (although this one not a 20 year one).

As I was chomping at the bit to start playing again, in the back of my mind I almost couldn't bear the thought of busting pout "Stick Control" and starting way back and over again, building my hands back up, unless...

Traditional grip had been intriguing me for awhile anyway. Back in the 1960's our public school district offered music lessons to interested kids, which is when I took up the drums. We were taught traditional grip, but improperly. Fast forward to high school, a switch to matched grip and a pretty good teacher ( a student of Roy Burns) who emphasized technique and I was playing strictly matched for many years.

Back to the present. I loved the idea of trying trad, and I have found that I like it better than matched. For me personally, I can get my hands in a more relaxed position, I feel like my arms hang more relaxed at my side, and I love the grip.

I know, these are strictly my observations and what makes me comfortable as well as another aspect of approaching the drums that works for me; things that I like.

As Ralph Peterson said, I don't have a political view on one grip or the other.
:)
 

Stroman

Platinum Member
I have my snare tilted, kind of like Keith Carlock so I don't have to work that hard for the back beat. If you look at both Steve Gadd and Dave Weckl, you'll notice that their snares aren't tilted as much. I think this might have something to do with it. Keith seems to only play traditional grip.
I always kind of wondered about guys playing trad with the snare tilted toward them. It goes against the very reason for the development of the grip.

I can and have played that way, but it seems you have to lower your left wrist quite a bit more than when the snare is tilted away or level. I wonder if that could be a factor in their repetitive use injuries, or if it is just an individual thing?

Guess we'll never know, but wouldn't be afraid to use traditional grip until and unless my body told me otherwise.
 

drummer-russ

Gold Member
Interesting and timely thread. I grew up learning traditional. In fact did not know about matched for years. After a decades long hiatus started playing again two years ago. I decided I would put in some practice using matched as I rebuilt my sticking.

Why? Not sure but I think I did not want to be seen strictly as a jazz drummer since I was getting back into bands to play classic rock.

Now I have some arthritis and pain in my thumb, but on my right hand! Hmm that seems at odds with Weckl's comments. But maybe it has to do with non-drumming activities through the years.

I am now using matched on songs I need rim clicks in part of the song. I can get to matched grip easier from the rim click position. I also tend to crash more with my left hand when I play matched. BTW I use matched on about 6 of the 40 or so songs I am currently playing.

When playing more contemporay songs (still classic I guess) like Gel, matched feels better. Sweet Home Chicago, strictly traditional though for all the vamping I do in that tune.

I agree I like the option to use whatever grip works best for the song. Kind of glad to hear more players considering traditional.
 

GeoB

Gold Member
I have just always been able to play better with traditional grip. What ever works do it.
Me too. Learned trad grip, played it for years. Tried matched, didn't work out. Try it occasionally, it just isn't my bag.
 

Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
.............Hmm that seems at odds with Weckl's comments................
Hell mate, Weckl's own playing seems to be at odds with his comment.

I've been looking on youtube for examples of him playing matched since he made those comments (say, anything in the last 2 years), but can't find a single clip. If he has indeed made the change, then it certainly appears as if he hasn't fully embraced the concept. Sounds good in theory, I guess. I just can't find much evidence of him putting it into practice though.
 
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whitecatcafe

Senior Member
I always kind of wondered about guys playing trad with the snare tilted toward them. It goes against the very reason for the development of the grip.
How so? Tilting the snare like this allows the stick to be almost parallel to the head/rim. It's something that I picked up from the Jojo Mayer Secret Weapons DVD. Honestly, I think tilting the snare like this is the only way traditional grip would make sense to be used on the drum set, especially if you're trying to get those back beats in.
 
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