Question for You Open-handed Drummers

Hewitt2

Senior Member
So I started fully playing open-handed a few years back (weak hand leading on hi-hats and ride) to even out my hands and have unobstructed access to the kit at all times.

Well, I am now at the point where my weaker hand is in fact faster than my dominant hand. The odd thing, though, is that from a technique perspective, my dominant hand is still further ahead (except at higher BPMs where my dominant hand breaks down in relation to my weaker hand).

Anyways, is this common for open handed drummers?

Is this a "good" or logical end-result of open-handed drumming? Or am I doing something wrong?

Lest any of you should ask, I regularly practice out of Stick Control, Wilcoxon, work my rudiments and have an instructor, etc. so I don't think I am doing anything "wrong" per se in terms of encouraging an imbalance between my hands. But I am curious how others have approached this issue.
 

calan

Silver Member
I've been playing open handed for most of the time I've been playing kit, which is probably 15-16 years now, although I play my primary ride in the traditional place, so I lead with either hand depending on what I'm doing. Also, as I've gotten older, there's times where I now cross over on the hats, and I get more comfortable with it as years go by.

I suppose in some cases my weak hand is faster (and more consistent), at least doing doubles and triples. In a case of just straight up consistent speed, my dominant hand is still a faster and more musical lead than my weak hand. Regardless, I don't think it's strange to find that you have some kind of strength that you wouldn't normally manifest in a more traditional situation, and I think that's the point of playing open handed.

For example, in my case, while playing with a traditional lead, my ghost notes are far better. Playing weak hand lead, I'm far better at playing at playing displacements and syncopation between kick and snare. I think maybe these things having something to do with brain hemispheres, but I'm not certain; I only know how it feels to me.
 

Mart61

Silver Member
A dumb question from a newbie. What is open handed, how would I do it and what are the benefits?
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
A dumb question from a newbie. What is open handed, how would I do it and what are the benefits?

It's a fancy term being thrown around a lot these days. All it really means is that you don't cross your arms/hands when playing. For example, using your left hand on the high hats and your right hand on the snare for a standard beat. Typically most people would cross their arms and use their right hand to ride the hats.

As to benefits, it depends if you take to it, or not. I never did, though I've tried a few times, it just doesn't suit me, and I can't think of anything I've ever felt like I couldn't do on the standard setup playing crossed.

Some drummers use it to setup their kit different, as well. Perhaps high hats on the right side or centered. Sometimes the ride is on the left so it can be accessed with the left hand and leave the right free.

All a matter of what works best for each person. I've seen a few kats who sit down and somehow naturally want to play open. More power to em.
 

iwearnohats

Silver Member
It has the advantage of assisting to improve in your coordination and dexterity with your weaker hand by using it to lead on the hihats, but also frees up your right hand to move around the kit a lot more than your left would be able to while playing conventionally.

Mart61, I personally highly recommend it as a training exercise, especially if you're new to drumming. It will help a lot. You may not necessarily use it in a recording or live performance while you're developing the ability, but down the track it may be that your kit is set up in such a way that leading with your weaker hand is more appropriate in some situations and therefore having that ability removes an obstacle from being able to play ergonomically.

Hewitt - when you say you lead with your left hand on not only your hats, but your ride as well, does that mean your ride is mounted to your left, or you're crossing over to your right? In response to your question, I doubt you're doing anything wrong, but perhaps what you should be doing is dividing the lead equally between your left and right hands, so they develop at the same pace. If anything, use that speed gain to your advantage and use it to push yourself even faster with both hands!
 

Hewitt2

Senior Member
It has the advantage of assisting to improve in your coordination and dexterity with your weaker hand by using it to lead on the hihats, but also frees up your right hand to move around the kit a lot more than your left would be able to while playing conventionally.

Mart61, I personally highly recommend it as a training exercise, especially if you're new to drumming. It will help a lot. You may not necessarily use it in a recording or live performance while you're developing the ability, but down the track it may be that your kit is set up in such a way that leading with your weaker hand is more appropriate in some situations and therefore having that ability removes an obstacle from being able to play ergonomically.

Hewitt - when you say you lead with your left hand on not only your hats, but your ride as well, does that mean your ride is mounted to your left, or you're crossing over to your right? In response to your question, I doubt you're doing anything wrong, but perhaps what you should be doing is dividing the lead equally between your left and right hands, so they develop at the same pace. If anything, use that speed gain to your advantage and use it to push yourself even faster with both hands!

Correct I play like Billy Cobham or Will Kennedy (hats on the same side as ride). I do lead with my lead hand on occasion (maybe 10% of the time) on the right side of the kit.
 

calan

Silver Member
I've seen a few kats who sit down and somehow naturally want to play open. More power to em.
That's how I did it. I was playing in school band, and my mom got me a kit on me 14th or 15th birthday. It was an old Slingerland with a rail consolette, and it looked like it was set up correctly (I referenced all sorts of pictures in my drum magazines), and I played it that way for a few weeks.

My left handedness started to get the better of me and I started flipping things around until I felt comfortable. The ride didn't get flipped, so for several years I played right hand lead on hats/ride. It wasn't until I started playing extreme metal (of all things) that I put a ride in a normal location and crossing over on hats because it made playing those extreme speeds easier.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Anytime your weak hand is equal to or better than your dominant hand...you're sitting pretty. It takes many more years to get the weak hand happening than the strong hand. At this point, a little work on your strong hand may be in order.

The strong hand progresses quicker than the weak hand IME. My strong hand responds to work faster than my weak hand. So you're in an enviable position IMO.

I use open handed only when I would get in my own way otherwise, like when I'm doing hat and tom work together.
 

Hewitt2

Senior Member
Anytime your weak hand is equal to or better than your dominant hand...you're sitting pretty. It takes many more years to get the weak hand happening than the strong hand. At this point, a little work on your strong hand may be in order.

The strong hand progresses quicker than the weak hand IME. My strong hand responds to work faster than my weak hand. So you're in an enviable position IMO.

I use open handed only when I would get in my own way otherwise, like when I'm doing hat and tom work together.

Thanks and yes I know this is kind of a "good" problem to have.

That being said, it kind of irritates me that my better hand is in fact slower. But really, I crap out at speeds I don't really use too often in my normal playing, so this really isn't something that has been affecting me other than when I am focusing on hand speed in certain practice applications.

I will keep a closer eye on what my hands are doing and maybe put some extra focus on the dominant hand in the coming weeks and months.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I've been focusing on my left hand for a while now, and while my right has more endurance, my left is cleaner. When I give my right some attention, it seems to get with the program faster. I haven't been working technique too much, the economy is doing better, which means I'm doing my day job a lot more lately.
 

Mart61

Silver Member
Thanks for your replies guys. Maybe I'll give it a try.
 

beatinskins

Member
I know this is an old thread and discussed quite a bit but I just started playing open handed after a 7 year pause, and I played traditional 7 years ago. I'm really liking it. I figured since I haven't played in 7 years I'd start fresh. The hi hat being low and really close to my snare helps with alot of syncopated playing. My right hand is free to do all kinds of different voicing on the toms. Just thought I'd share my experience.
 
I'm kind of curious: since most people prefer using their dominant hand for the primary timekeeping (hats and ride), you have to wonder why the hi-hat hasn't developed much to accommodate this.

There have been a few inventions intended to allow you to keep the hat pedal on the left and move the hats themselves to the right, but none seem to really take off.
 

beatinskins

Member
I'm kind of curious: since most people prefer using their dominant hand for the primary timekeeping (hats and ride), you have to wonder why the hi-hat hasn't developed much to accommodate this.

There have been a few inventions intended to allow you to keep the hat pedal on the left and move the hats themselves to the right, but none seem to really take off.

From what I have read and seen, on a single bass drum setup, the remote hi-hats being placed on the right side cause a distance issue between the snare and hats. On a double bass drum setup, you have the ability to set up the hats between the bass drums, like danny carrey.
 
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