Is it worth the time investment to develop traditional grip to play jazz?

Joffry

Active Member
My traditional grip isn’t terrible, but it is nowhere near my matched grip, and I can’t decide whether or not I should just put in the time to improve my traditional grip for jazz.


I’ve heard guys like Kenny Washington say that there are certain things that traditional grip is better for in the context of jazz.

However there are also drummers like Bill Stewart, who seem to be able to imitate the traditional grip sound with matched.

So I’m wondering if I should continue working at imitating the sound of traditional grip using matched grip, or if I should just get good at traditional. At the end of the day, the sound is what matters most, so I feel that trying to develop traditional may be a waste of time, but I’m not entirely sure…
 

Paul Blood

Junior Member
I absolutely believe you can be a great jazz player using matched or a fantastic rock drummer using traditional.

But if your primary grip is traditional, you really have play matched sometimes - like playing Latin rim click to tom type patterns.

Probably your time would be better served learning more about music than learning traditional grip, but I’m a drum nerd and enjoy learning as much as I can about our instrument. I’m in this for life and hope I have many more productive and healthy years ahead, but nothing is guaranteed…. So I’d say follow your intuition.
 
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Liam

Active Member
A little while back I tried to improve my traditional grip and I definitely became more comfortable with it. I now feel confident using it in front of others. With that said I don’t uses it much or at all, I also haven’t noticed any improvements with my matched grip after learning traditional. There for I would say learn it if you want, but if you are already comfortable with matched grip don’t worry about traditional.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry" - Administrator
Staff member
I never heard of using trad for the sound of trad. Is there a snare sound associated with jazz? I don't know.

My impression was that the early jazz players all used trad, (matched wasn't an actual thing yet) and that was the only reason jazz is associated with trad grip mainly. That's not a fact AFAIK, they are just my impressions.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
I concur with Larry, but will go one further - there is NO Sound difference between the two grips. That’s just crazy talk. If that we’re really the case, then Virgil Donati shouldn’t sound as rock n roll as he does, and Max Roach’s jazz should sound like rock (he played a lot of match grip towards the end of his career). If you can hear a difference without seeing it, you are DEEP.
 

classikdrummr

Active Member
I use Matched 80% and Traditional 20%.. I prefer Traditional for Snare Ghost Notes, it just feels smoother on the Ghost Notes. I don't play much Jazz, but a little Jazz Rock: Steely Dan, Chicago, Blood Sweat and Tears.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
It's different, your hand moves the stick a little differently. It may be easier to dance that stuff in there with that grip. It seems like you have to be more deliberate about it with matched grip. It's definitely easier to do the traditional brush moves with traditional grip. It's also a way of signaling to people that you're serious about learning the tradition, somehow-- some people will take it that way.

I've practiced traditional grip plenty, but I always seem to end up playing matched when playing music. If you're curious about it go ahead and work it up. If you're going to do this the rest of your life, you have to try some things out and see where they take you.

(matched wasn't an actual thing yet)

It was a thing, it was used all the time on xylophone and timpani-- all percussion instruments using sticks and mallets other than snare drum-- and most of those guys also played xylophone and timpani.
 

BGDurham

Well-known Member
I think traditional grip is no better than matched and has more limitations so my recommendation is to just play matched.
 

s1212z

Silver Member
I have a traditional grip approach for brush playing, certain sweeps just do not feel or sound the same otherwise but I will switch matches as well. But I'm not a developed traditional grip player so the flip is required which I consider rather inefficient but seems more trad player do that anyways. But I lead left matches, right traditional on the brushes even though right handed.

For stick play, I've never use it and probably never will. With a matched left hand, I can play left hand lead which give another creative option along with left side sound sources.

Bill Stewart has talked several times about how intentionally he mimics the traditional sound with a matched grip, getting that elevated angle on his elbow and playing in the zone of where a more left trad grip would fall on the snare. He sounds great but I think he ends up inventing something entire different that is totally unique that sounds like a hybrid.
 
Have been a mixed grip player pretty much my whole life. Not learning traditional was not an option with my instructors. After a while, I clearly understood why the late great Tony Williams said, 'I like to have a left and a right hand.'

I agree you can play anything with either grip with practice.

One last thought here in case it hasn't been mentioned. Traditional uses 9 muscles in the arm, matched uses 4.

Basically anything rudimentary on the snare (solos, fills, etc.) and when I get going 'up' into the toms I just subconsciously switched to matched. It tripped out one of my guitar buddies I was in a band with years ago. I just told him I use what works best for me, for the chart, recording, performance, etc.

It's what works for you.
 

Stickandbrush

Active Member
I think traditional grip is no better than matched and has more limitations so my recommendation is to just play matched.
Ok I’ll bite what limitations?
  • Todd Sucherman
  • Cindy Blackman Santana
  • Dave Weckl
  • Vinnie Colaiuta
  • Steve Smith
  • Stewart Copeland
  • Carl Palmer
  • Tony Williams
  • and many others would like to know what they are missing out on
:) and I play both BTW .. nice to have as many tools in the box as you can
 
Ok I’ll bite what limitations?
  • Todd Sucherman
  • Cindy Blackman Santana
  • Dave Weckl
  • Vinnie Colaiuta
  • Steve Smith
  • Stewart Copeland
  • Carl Palmer
  • Tony Williams
  • and many others would like to know what they are missing out on
:) and I play both BTW .. nice to have as many tools in the box as you can
Vinnie is so the man - I could go on here for hours...
 

jimb

Member
Personally trad just feels right, feels kinda accurate and I like not moving my arm much...Cant imagine playing jazz match style with all that arm movement.
 

Morrisman

Platinum Member
If you keep the drum relatively flat, then trad grip results in the stick striking at a steeper angle - the end of the tip rather than the side. Easier to play soft, bouncy strokes. Harder to play loud back beats.
There’s also the feeling of rotating your wrist rather than bending it. Definitely a different feel.
 

Quai34

Junior Member
Lately I saw a video of Mike Johnston saying that you can be a good drummer with match grip and nothing forces you to use Trad grip for jazz. He even says that you should better improve your match grip technique to be better at it than to be just so so on each style of playing.
 
Lately I saw a video of Mike Johnston saying that you can be a good drummer with match grip and nothing forces you to use Trad grip for jazz. He even says that you should better improve your match grip technique to be better at it than to be just so so on each style of playing.
I have found this to be very true. I routinely run though the rudiments with BOTH grips - for exactly your point.
 

Mediocrefunkybeat

Platinum Member
I honestly think that as drummers we pontificate on this far too much. For the record, I play both (badly) but it doesn't really matter. Just learn a grip and use it. If you want to learn another grip, learn it and use it. I wouldn't recommend that a new player learn traditional grip because matched is more intuitive to most people but ultimately it doesn't matter. Both work. If you're playing heavy backbeat-based music then it's easier with matched grip. You can play Jazz just fine with matched grip - plenty of people do it.

I prefer playing traditional but I don't overthink it. If you took that away from me I'd adapt quickly enough.
 

C. Dave Run

Gold Member
I prefer playing traditional but I don't overthink it.
Total opposite for me. It immediately makes the brain go WTF and start processing stuff. It sort of transports my hands right back to day 1. Trad just feels so odd, even after 30 years.

I dont jazz, so trad is not really a thing in I'm concerned with. It is a curiosity (to me), so occasionally I give it another go. I will probably never seriously dig into it.
 
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