Getting excited / Death grip

Skwerly

Senior Member
Okay, to some of you veterans, or maybe to some of you who play quieter music or have had really good lessons, this may sound weird, but I’ve decided to ask anyhow.

My band plays louder, slightly more aggressive music (Rage, Disturbed, Tool kinda thing) and I find that I get excited and want to make things louder, so I play harder which causes me to grip the sticks harder, and before long it has all added up and because I’ve had a death grip on the sticks my speed is greatly reduced, my hands sometimes cramp and I get sweaty haha.

I’m not new to this game, either, having drummed since ’94. My question is: How do you relax when at a gig enough to just play softer? Sometimes I guess I get it in my head that the folks can’t hear me if I’m not pounding like Animal from the Muppets. I see tons and tons of folks on the internet and it looks like they are just tapping the things, yet I can still hear them. Either I suck really, really bad or they are hitting the drums harder than it looks. Either way, what gives? If they ARE hitting them hard, how do THEY keep up speed and all that?

Seriously thinking about lessons...
 

tbmills

Gold Member
i learned that i should always play barely quieter than i think. i usually like to get above the mix but it only causes the band to get louder to. your the drummer, drums are loud.

in contast, when i stay quiet and make myself blend, my band will usually try to do the same.

try some lighter sticks, and practice getting good quiet tones at home, and with your band. tell them your problem, they might help.
 

Skwerly

Senior Member
I play pretty hefty 5Bs at the moment, but I have played 5A and 7A and a few others before thinking it would get my speed up and force me to play quieter, but I only end up snapping sticks LOL!

I know my guitarist plays at a really loud level; maybe if he turned down a tad we would blend better – great point. Thanks. Also, maybe I’ll go back to the 5As and see if I like them any better these days. The 5Bs smack the drum with authority and they last a heck of a lot longer, as well. :p
 

alparrott

Platinum Member
Age old question. Part can be that you don't feel like you have a firm grip on the stick, so when things get louder, you overgrip. You mention sweaty hands. So you might want to try a slightly larger stick, a stick with grooves on the grip, grip tape, or a stick with a slightly tacky finish (either a stick that comes with a sticky grip, or Groove Juice's spray-on stick grip).

As far as volume - If your guitarists are turning up so loud you are breaking sticks to be heard, they either need to turn down a hair, or you need to mike up and go through a PA. Oddly enough, a lot of the crowds I have played to over the years remark at how much better they can hear the actual music if it's turned down a bit (not soft acoustic music, either).

A third possible problem is that even if you play with a monitor you may not be hearing enough of you. All you can hear is guitar and vocals - not you. Much as a singer with his own vocals low in the monitors will trash his voice in the first set, you might be overexerting and overgripping because you can't hear yourself over the guitars.
 

Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
Seriously thinking about lessons...
Great idea.....I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by what you get out of it.

As for the "death grip"....watch the stage volume mate. It's much easier for all concerned if the band can hear themselves. PA's and stage monitoring are quite capable of enough volume.......this basically eliminates the need for the guys on stage to try and blow one another off it. You can still hit 'em pretty hard and you can still put all your energy into it......but there does come a point where you're not getting any more volume out of a drum regardless of how hard you hit......let the PA do the work for you mate.

Pull it all back a shade, concentrate on playing and performance....that's what you're getting paid for and let the engineers look after the volume.....that's what they're getting paid to do.
 

Skwerly

Senior Member
Yup, great points. The issue is that a. we are a very new band and we are playing these gigs really cheap, one set only and b. the “sound engineer” is us lol. They are only micing the bass drum so it’s not all pro, and the folks sit pretty far away so I really bang 'em. Yet another reason I think that Mapex would do me well. The export series I’m playing just simply isn’t capable of the sound and volume those things put out.

But yea I think lessons are a viable option. Part of me is afraid of the “teach an old dog new tricks thing” as I’ve already been playing professionally for years and years. I’m sure I have some bad habits and breaking them ain’t gon’ be easy, that’s for sure. But I guess that even intermediate level drummers can benefit from a real pro telling them where they are going wrong and giving suggestion. Now to find someone capable... :D
 

Frank

Gold Member
I'm not a volume guy, but, you can Definitely conjure more volume without a death grip.

You need to work on a looser grip. If you don't achieve this yourself, go find a good teacher.

Volume or not, you should not be describing your grip as a death grip. It's not fun, it's not conducive to best play, and - it can hurt you.
 

Skwerly

Senior Member
I hear that. I mean, it’s not exactly a “death grip” – I mostly put that for effect, but it’s for sure harder than when I’m practicing with them. 100% for sure harder lol. Maybe it’s just something I have to be conscious of and work on over time. I’ve always had that issue. Not every single gig, but a good portion of them. Sigh...
 

BillBachman

Gold Member
It's all about the technique you use. Well trained hands will default to the path of least resistance to achieve whatever musical idea you're going after. Looser hands allow you to play louder actually since you can get the stick moving faster by accelerating the stick with the fingers instead of holding the sticks with the fingers. Playing with more velocity and less inertia will also result in much less shock on the hands and less broken sticks, heads & cymbals.

If you're interested, I offer hand technique lessons over Skype. good luck, Bill
 

Skwerly

Senior Member
Thanks for the tips! It's something I believe I need to work on.

Curious, what do you charge for lessons and (have to ask) how good are ya?
 

BillBachman

Gold Member
Thanks for the tips! It's something I believe I need to work on.

Curious, what do you charge for lessons and (have to ask) how good are ya?
I charge $60 an hour.

As for "How good am I?" That's a weird question to answer as I hate self promotion. I'm a work in progress like everybody else, but I'm farther down the line than some others. A few highlights: I've been writing the "Strictly Technique" column in Modern Drummer for about two years, have a drumset degree from Berklee & studies at North Texas, 12 years drum corps touring experience, have played prog rock with Neal Morse and fusion with Sean O`Bryan Smith, done drum clinics on 5 continents, and have many products out. You can check out billbachman.net for details.
 
I play aggressive rock/alternative stuff with my band, and that whole scene and when i first started I used the death grip. Our last song on our set started with a fast drum roll and I would never be able to keep up with the tempo, until i learned to lessen up on my grip.

I don't use the moeller technique as taught, but I use the principal of using the flicking of the wrist motion and use finger techniques to play fast/ghost notes/keep my endurance up, especially when riding on the crash or hi hat. i still sometimes have the death grip when I really want to let it rip, but i know I'm using it. The adrenaline just forces it. haha
 

austin412

Member
It's all about the technique you use. Well trained hands will default to the path of least resistance to achieve whatever musical idea you're going after. Looser hands allow you to play louder actually since you can get the stick moving faster by accelerating the stick with the fingers instead of holding the sticks with the fingers. Playing with more velocity and less inertia will also result in much less shock on the hands and less broken sticks, heads & cymbals.

If you're interested, I offer hand technique lessons over Skype. good luck, Bill
i play in a uhh "deathcore" band i guess lol ( i sometimes hate categorizing music) we play tempos between 210 and 220 i have a very loose grip and play PLENTY loud enough

anyways another thing is a metal snare can achieve much greater volume than a wood
also head choice and tuning make a HUGE difference in volume
as well as the type of cymbals u use
 

Skwerly

Senior Member
Yea I recently went back to my steel Tama Swingstar snare and like it a lot better. I think a lot of it is having the guys turn down a little; keeping up with that guitar is brutal lol.

Once I get that Mapex kit i'll see what i need to do from there.

And I agree with you, Cheeky, that sometimes you just gotta grip the sticks tight. I think maybe my problem is that once i open things up and start playing louder it's hard for me to revert back to normal mode because I get all amped up about it hahaha. I've been fighting this issue since day one; you'd think i would have learned by now! :)
 

kettles

Gold Member
A better snare will definitely help, not sure if the Saturn will suit heavy music. I own a Saturn 14x6.5 and a Chad Smith sig, the Chaddy is not noticeably louder but the frequencies it puts off cut through the band a whole lot better. It's actually a huge difference. I think timbre and frequency are just as important as volume, if not more so. It's not even a very expensive drum but it's always impressed me when I've used/heard it live.

I've found swinging my sticks higher helps more than actually using muscle strength to hit harder. Although it's very important that you relax at the bottom of the stroke and let the stick fully rebound, the shock at the bottom will lead to sore wrists if you aren't careful. If I'm really struggling for volume I just go up to bigger sticks, though 5b's are my usual. Actually going to spend some time with 5a's now that my technique has improved.

Raising the tuning of your toms a little might help too, and learn to rimshot them if you can't already :)
 

PQleyR

Platinum Member
I think finger technique is very useful for this. I used to have this problem, and the death grip comes as a result of trying to stop the sticks flying out of your hands, yes? If ALL your fingers are strong enough, you can keep control of the stick at all times evenly and make sure you maintain the fulcrum in the right place. Jojo Mayer's finger exercises are very good for this. Make sure you're making equal use of fingers, wrists, and arms to generate the stroke, and not putting extra strain on any particular component more than the rest.
 

Skwerly

Senior Member
THANK you so much for your comments. You guys are right, I just need to relax and hold them sticks a little more loosely. I have good speed when I do, but it's hard to relax in the moment when the crowd is jumping, the music's loud and I'm having a blast. Ah, to be a GOOD drummer... :p
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Having a death grip stems from the state of mind you're in. Do you have a death grip at rehearsals? If not, why?

Drummers desperately need to seperate their inner feelings of excitement from their playing so they can do their job uncolored by external stimuli.

The way I deal with it is I think like this: I'm not allowed to "get into it". I have to be like this to allow myself to play my best so the crowd can "get into it". You really have to keep your head amid the frenzy. When the whole world is nuts you need to be grounded and centered and calm.

You obviously tighten up playing live. You need to totally reverse this. Try not trying so hard, it's very liberating.
 

Skwerly

Senior Member
Having a death grip stems from the state of mind you're in. Do you have a death grip at rehearsals? If not, why?

Drummers desperately need to seperate their inner feelings of excitement from their playing so they can do their job uncolored by external stimuli.

The way I deal with it is I think like this: I'm not allowed to "get into it". I have to be like this to allow myself to play my best so the crowd can "get into it". You really have to keep your head amid the frenzy. When the whole world is nuts you need to be grounded and centered and calm.

You obviously tighten up playing live. You need to totally reverse this. Try not trying so hard, it's very liberating.
VERY good advice! You are right, I like to get WAY into it, and pay the price. I will 100% keep this in mind at the next show. Thanks! :) :)
 
Top