Moeller Grips vs Stroke

Alex Luce

Pro Drummer
What grip do you guys use for Moeller? Do you ever think about it?

I recently started experimenting with the right hand grip espoused by Sanford Moeller in The Moeller Book. It’s a pretty weird one, and in the picture in the book, the thumb isn’t even on the stick. I also learned what the Admin of the Facebook Moeller technique page calls “Antique side drum grip”, which goes back to at least the 18th century, and as far as I can tell is the first drum grip that was ever conceived of or written about in some of these historic drumming manuals. (Check out historicdrumming.com for more info.)
Anyway, I guarantee there is information in this video that you haven’t seen or heard before, so if you accept this mission, watch my video and give me some feedback…ha ha.
 
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JimmyM

Platinum Member
Drum teachers back then must have hated their students. I tried that side drum grip, and it was instant pain.
 

Rock Salad

Junior Member
I am trying it. I can't do a timpani pinch fulcrum, it has to be a looser grip focused on control. My old hands cramp easily.
I recently watched an instructional showing press roll with a similar motion. I can see the potential, but it hasn't clicked for me yet.
 

mikyok

Platinum Member
With Moeller there's no real stick grip because the stick moves around so much in the hand. It's more of a control thing. You have the power of the stroke naturally from your shoulder and you use the stick positioning in the hand for control. Louder is played in the back of the hand and more delicate to the front.

You get taught to play in all the different positions and there's there also the long and short thumb. Just takes years to master and I'm only 20 years in and nowhere near! It does give you the ability to be able to use any kind of stick for any occasion. You just have to keep up the pad work.

The pinky hook is something Jim Chapin frowned on a little it's only good for playing loud downstrokes that's about it, and that was from the horses mouth!

Drum teachers back then must have hated their students. I tried that side drum grip, and it was instant pain.
It's very primitive and not something that has ever translated to drum kit. Useful if you've ever played a Dhol drum
 

C. Dave Run

Gold Member
To me, Moeller is just an accent stroke. Its a simple way to add an accent during a roll. It can be done using whatever grip you are using, and is simply raising the hand more to get the accent.

I dont get anymore out of it than that.
 

Alex Luce

Pro Drummer
With Moeller there's no real stick grip because the stick moves around so much in the hand. It's more of a control thing. You have the power of the stroke naturally from your shoulder and you use the stick positioning in the hand for control. Louder is played in the back of the hand and more delicate to the front.

You get taught to play in all the different positions and there's there also the long and short thumb. Just takes years to master and I'm only 20 years in and nowhere near! It does give you the ability to be able to use any kind of stick for any occasion. You just have to keep up the pad work.

The pinky hook is something Jim Chapin frowned on a little it's only good for playing loud downstrokes that's about it, and that was from the horses mouth!


It's very primitive and not something that has ever translated to drum kit. Useful if you've ever played a Dhol drum
What is the long and short thumb? You know a lot for only being 20, ha ha! Tony Williams was another drummer who liked to grip the stick in the back of his hand. But I had no idea this grip went back to the origins of snare drumming until I started working on this stuff a few weeks ago
 

mikyok

Platinum Member
What is the long and short thumb? You know a lot for only being 20, ha ha! Tony Williams was another drummer who liked to grip the stick in the back of his hand. But I had no idea this grip went back to the origins of snare drumming until I started working on this stuff a few weeks ago
I wish I was 20 again, 38 sadly!

The long and short thumb is just thumb positioning on the stick. It's been a really long time since I looked at that about 18 years I think but I'm pretty sure Jim briefly covers it in his video.

Moeller has its origins in the American Civil War, Mr Moeller wondered how those guys played for hours and took it from there. Jim Chapin applied it to the kit.
 

Alex Luce

Pro Drummer
To me, Moeller is just an accent stroke. Its a simple way to add an accent during a roll. It can be done using whatever grip you are using, and is simply raising the hand more to get the accent.

I dont get anymore out of it than that.
Yes, it is an accent stroke. I think the way each individual drummer physically approaches the drums can determine whether they find Moeller useful or not. I think I it is possible to have amazing chops and never use Moeller at all, but as you said, since it is an accent stroke, then loud accents such as are found in pop and rock drumming might be more difficult to execute if not using Moeller.
Personally I find whenever I start an upstroke (starting a stroke with the hand down) it turns into Moeller. This is because I start with a windup, raising my forearm first, and then I snap the hand up and immediately back down again to create the accent. My most frequent use of these accents is for rimshots on 2 and 4. Do you use Moeller for backbeats, or is it some other technique?
 

Alex Luce

Pro Drummer
I wish I was 20 again, 38 sadly!

The long and short thumb is just thumb positioning on the stick. It's been a really long time since I looked at that about 18 years I think but I'm pretty sure Jim briefly covers it in his video.

Moeller has its origins in the American Civil War, Mr Moeller wondered how those guys played for hours and took it from there. Jim Chapin applied it to the kit.
Ah, I see. I also finally got serious on the drums when I was 18, so that is something we have in common. But I am still 21 years older than you…ha ha!
 

C. Dave Run

Gold Member
Yes, it is an accent stroke. I think the way each individual drummer physically approaches the drums can determine whether they find Moeller useful or not. I think I it is possible to have amazing chops and never use Moeller at all, but as you said, since it is an accent stroke, then loud accents such as are found in pop and rock drumming might be more difficult to execute if not using Moeller.
Personally I find whenever I start an upstroke (starting a stroke with the hand down) it turns into Moeller. This is because I start with a windup, raising my forearm first, and then I snap the hand up and immediately back down again to create the accent. My most frequent use of these accents is for rimshots on 2 and 4. Do you use Moeller for backbeats, or is it some other technique?
Oh I use it. It's not really exaggerated like some exercises show, I just raise my stick higher with my wrists. I use a lot of fingers/rebound, so adding some wrist brings out the accent.

I'm not in the "whipping motion" camp. I also dont buy into specific grips for Moeller. I'm not suggesting this is what you are saying, just my own thoughts on the subject.
 

C. Dave Run

Gold Member
I see. Well, I set up camp at Whipping Motion Point when I was 21, and I’ve been there ever since
The first 10 seconds of your video, that's where I'm at. No exaggerated arm motions or anything.

This is the stuff I'm not concerned with:

Here's why: its wasted movement. A drum can only get so loud. Hitting it with a baseball bat makes no difference in volume. Neither does whipping the stick down from the sky. I can get plenty of volume with just wrist, so why waste the energy?
 

JimmyM

Platinum Member
The first 10 seconds of your video, that's where I'm at. No exaggerated arm motions or anything.

This is the stuff I'm not concerned with:

Here's why: its wasted movement. A drum can only get so loud. Hitting it with a baseball bat makes no difference in volume. Neither does whipping the stick down from the sky. I can get plenty of volume with just wrist, so why waste the energy?
I always thought that only the initial learning of Moeller used that exaggerated technique but became streamlined once you get used to the exaggerated movement. Like I don’t see Jojo doing that when he plays with his bands.
 

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
I always thought that only the initial learning of Moeller used that exaggerated technique but became streamlined once you get used to the exaggerated movement. Like I don’t see Jojo doing that when he plays with his bands.

This is it, right here. Play big and slow so you can play fast and small. Exaggerating the motion and doing it slowly helps you find the little flaws in your technique
 

C. Dave Run

Gold Member
I always thought that only the initial learning of Moeller used that exaggerated technique but became streamlined once you get used to the exaggerated movement. Like I don’t see Jojo doing that when he plays with his bands.
I dont see a need for it. No one exaggerates the motions in anything else. Only drummers do this. Learn to do the thing correctly from the get go and there is less need for refinement.

How do you exaggerate a scale playing bass? Or picking? Or chords?

I've got no issue with going slow.
 
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JimmyM

Platinum Member
I dont see a need for it. No one exaggerates the motions in anything else. Only drummers do this. Learn to do the thing correctly from the get go and there is less need for refinement.

How do you exaggerate a scale playing bass? Or picking? Or chords?

I've got no issue with going slow.
You make a good point with that one, except that guitar and drums are two different disciplines. Still, I see a lot of support for your position from folks like Tommy Igoe, who also seems to think there’s nothing to gain from it. Me, I have no opinion one way or another because I’m still very much learning.
 

C. Dave Run

Gold Member
You make a good point with that one, except that guitar and drums are two different disciplines. Still, I see a lot of support for your position from folks like Tommy Igoe, who also seems to think there’s nothing to gain from it. Me, I have no opinion one way or another because I’m still very much learning.
Guitar and drums are different. But I cant think of ANY other examples. Not just music related.

Exaggerated baseball swing? Golf swing? Ice skating? Throwing a ball? Firearms training? Parallel parking? House cleaning? Tying shoes? Brushing teeth? Typing? I cant think of any besides drumming.
 

Alex Luce

Pro Drummer
The first 10 seconds of your video, that's where I'm at. No exaggerated arm motions or anything.

This is the stuff I'm not concerned with:

Here's why: its wasted movement. A drum can only get so loud. Hitting it with a baseball bat makes no difference in volume. Neither does whipping the stick down from the sky. I can get plenty of volume with just wrist, so why waste the energy?
Okay cool, thanks. But I think this “wasted motion” thing is a common misconception in drumming education. Moeller generates a kinetic force that ripples down the arm, and that force is actually amplified by a transfer of energy from the larger levers (shoulder/upper arm) to the smaller levers (forearm and hand) of the body. This amplified energy is delivered to the tip of the drumstick--it is not flying off the arm somewhere in the midst of the process.

Of course you are right, a drum can only get so loud before you destroy your tone. But if you can produce a large stroke almost effortlessly to create a big sound with your entire arm--instead of putting in the additional effort required to make it happen with the smaller parts of your arm--I think that is preferable
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
I take the opposite approach, I teach people to eliminate unnecessary motion, starting with a pure wrist stroke, and add extra motion as needed. It's easier to get people to use more arm than it is to get them to use no arm-- that always takes some focused work. I don't think you can start with a giant arm stroke and just streamline your way to a pure, efficient wrist stroke.
 
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