Open Handed Technique - Drum Lesson

Old PIT Guy

Well-known member
Another way to have a go at open handed playing, especially if you like funky, linear, ghost-noted grooves, is to simply put both hands on the hi-hat and bring a hand back to the snare for the backbeats, using the same quasi-rudimentary sticking with ghosted notes as you normally would. A L-side snare helps but isn't absolutely necessary. Then you adjust the dynamics with sound levels, since your hands have changed roles, and eventually you find you're playing more with your left hand on the hi-hat for patterns (Right-handed player). Suddenly, keeping time with the weaker hand on the hi-hat starts to feel comfortable for short stretches and it didn't seem like much of an effort. Now you separate the hands using an X-hat and/or the ride and you start to see an unrealized benefit of working with ghost notes.
 
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I may not be seeing it correctly but it seems that the stick shoulder is striking *across* the hi hat bow. By that I mean the stick does not point toward the bell but somewhat chops across the bow at an angle.

Is that correct? Should the hi hat be farther away so the stick contact is more like the usual arms crossed sticking?

I’m wondering what is considered the correct technique.
I've played open for many years, and I always move the hat a bit further round so it's at about the 10 o'clock position relative to the snare. The OP has a large number of toms, including one that would get blocked by doing that, but it does allow a more perpendicular hat strike. I've never used lots of toms, and I'm happy to forego a massive kit in order to achieve the (for me) much more natural feel of open handed playing. That's not to say it can't be done -
Carter Beauford manages it!
 
Thanks for the video. I notice starting at :53 that the hi hat hits are similar to the OP’s. That is, hitting across the bow and not having the stick point at the bell. The video starts with the sticks pointing to the bell but changes to across the bow later.

So, I guess striking across is quite normal and should not be considered incorrect.
I think we need to stop thinking of things as "correct" and "incorrect". There are some things that are non-negotiable - like being able to play in time, to a metronome - but apart from that it's what makes the kit sound the way you want it to, and what suits your style.
 

Uncle_MC

Member
I may not be seeing it correctly but it seems that the stick shoulder is striking *across* the hi hat bow. By that I mean the stick does not point toward the bell but somewhat chops across the bow at an angle.

Is that correct? Should the hi hat be farther away so the stick contact is more like the usual arms crossed sticking?

I’m wondering what is considered the correct technique.
You could play across the bow that way with the right hand using the traditional "cross-handed" technique also. Note that playing the tip of the stick makes a different sound than hitting across with the shoulder of the stick: how you play is all about which serves the music best. In this case, at least to my eyes, playing with the tip while maintaining a good wrist position would require either raising the elbow up or moving the hi-hat like you said. Adjusting your elbow potentially would not be comfortable for long periods, but granted, many people practice open-handed drumming not as a long-term change to their playing technique, but as just another skill. For example, it can come in handy for typical money beats that incorporate tom work (one that comes to mind is Don't Stop Believing). In that case, where the drummer wasn't looking to completely "switch over" to open-handed playing it wouldn't make sense to keep on changing their typical drum setup if it would only be a brief portion of their practice routine.
 
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