The 'Claw' Grip

aydee

Platinum Member
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Greetings folks, after many a moon! Hope y'all are very merry during the silly season!

Had a really interesting revelation thanks to a conversation I had recently and I thought I'd share it with everyone.
A good drummer friend of mine is currently doing a multi-city world tour with one of the biggest names in jazz fusion guitar.
Recently he confided in me that it was physically a very challenging gig, where every night, the energy spent feels close to playing a 1 1/2 hr drum solo, back to back.
Much of the set is seriously uptempo. Add to that many solos... so yes, lotsa sweat, some leg cramps, aching hands, sore left wrist etc...

So he's discovered a via media. He shows me this grip where he holds the left hand stick between his index and middle finger knuckles ( sort of like a cigarette, only higher on the fingers ) with the butt of the stick sitting against the rear palm of his hand. So when he's comping he often resorts to this grip which, incredibly & completely relaxes his left hand and yet doesn't really inhibit his playing in any way. A power drummer's version of cruise-control..?

So, I tried it. And voila, yes, theres not really much that I cant do with this grip that I could otherwise ( matched or very occasionally, trad ). The hand remains in its most natural position.

Have any of you heard of this ? tried it? thoughts?

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blinky

Senior Member
When I started out in 1975 this was the grip I used, worked for me at the time but when I got me a teacher that changed of course. I have used it later though when I need to shift grip if I tense up or something. Some time ago I read about one pro player who use this grip all the time, cannot remember who it was though.
 

Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
Seasons greetings to you Abe. Great to see you still alive and kicking (in the DW sense of course)!!

The drummer who first comes to mind is Carmine Appice. If I recall it right, for the most part, he used it because it allowed him to spin his sticks better.
 

aydee

Platinum Member
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Heyo PFG, howyabin? Carmine Appice? Dont remember him doing that really...
and Spinning doesn't count- this is a totally utilitarian move.

Binky, reassured to hear theres more than one guy who does this!
 

conTraption

Junior Member
I discovered this claw grip by accident one evening back in the day. It does offer up some advantages: a powerful fulcrum, easy dynamic control, increased stick range and there is little chance of dropping a stick no matter how nervous you might be. One downside is that the skin between your fingers is very thin there and you can blister easily if not careful.

Here is Carmine Appice using the claw on the cover of Modern Drummer
 

aydee

Platinum Member
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Would love to see a vid clip of the grip if anyone could rustle one up!

Btw, conTraption, the Appice pic doesn't quite look like a claw grip. It's more like...

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Stroman

Platinum Member
Hey there, Abe!! Welcome back.

I used this grip a little bit while recovering from one of my hand surgeries, but it was just because I really wanted to play and my hand wasn't up to using "normal" technique yet. It never occurred to me to play out using it. I only used it on the practice pad to scratch the drumming itch while I was recovering.

I might have to try it again!
 

JohnW

Silver Member
Here's a solo where Ronald Shannon Jackson plays it. First he plays matched, then at 2:11 he switches to traditional (arched thumb) and at 2:18 he goes to the claw grip with his left hand:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZeschQ9JE6Y

He had a huge dynamic range and could play ultra quiet. But he could also hit pretty hard. That was the end of the night or at least the end of the set, so I'm wondering if he got some pain in his hand to make him switch through 3 grips so quickly.

I just looked up his bio. He died less than 16 months after that show and had nerve damage in his left arm in the early 2000's.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
I used this claw grip whenever I got blisters from playing.
I used to get blisters as a young man when I was trying to play really loud.

It was kind of my "backup" grip.


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larryace

"Uncle Larry"
It's really great to see you around Abe. You make great threads too.

I use it when I am playing for instance really fast 8th notes on my ride. I switch to it to give my "regular" muscles a rest when they are fatigued, then I switch back to normal matched grip as soon as I can because I don't want to have to use this technique. I should be able to not have to go there, so I try to use it only when my normal playing muscles are complaining.

I never use it on my snare hand, only my riding hand.
 

aydee

Platinum Member
Hey there, Abe!! Welcome back. I might have to try it again!
Thanks ID, the real world has got me by the short n curlies so not really back, but a peek in every now and then.

Yes, it was quite a discovery. Strange how in 35 years of playing, I never even considered anything I didn't see in a book..
 
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aydee

Platinum Member
Here's a solo where Ronald Shannon Jackson plays it. First he plays matched, then at 2:11 he switches to traditional (arched thumb) and at 2:18 he goes to the claw grip with his left hand:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZeschQ9JE6Y
There it is! Thanks for the link, John. Its probably a last resort kind of thing, but Im surprised more people haven't messed with it.

Yes I've used it to just to demonstrate that it is the sticks doing all the work-not your grip.
What do the teachers think? Is there a commonly held view?

It's really great to see you around Abe. You make great threads too.

I use it when I am playing for instance really fast 8th notes on my ride. I switch to it to give my "regular" muscles a rest when they are fatigued, then I switch back to normal matched grip as soon as I can because I don't want to have to use this technique. I should be able to not have to go there, so I try to use it only when my normal playing muscles are complaining.

I never use it on my snare hand, only my riding hand.
Hey there, Unc! Good to see you too. Interesting that my friend only uses it on his snare hand - All that triplety left hand ghost note stuff flying about at 170 bpm during a long guitar solo... yet the motivation is the same - to rest the 'regular' muscles.

No finger control issues on the ride? Moving target as opposed to a snare or a hat?

I've seen Bev Bevan use this grip extensively.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZrffDM3hHk8

I believe it's because of his classical mallets training.
That looks more like a trad grip to me? Or I need a new number on my glasses...

I used this claw grip whenever I got blisters from playing.
I used to get blisters as a young man when I was trying to play really loud.

It was kind of my "backup" grip.
Did you have as much control of the stick with this grip?





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Stroman

Platinum Member
Thanks ID, the real world has got me by the short n curlies so not really back, but a peek in every now and then.

Yes, it was quite a discovery. Strange how n 35 years of playing, I never even considered anything I didnt see in a book..
Well, nice to hear from you while you're peeking. :)
 

Masheanhed

Senior Member
I hurt my right hand years ago (hand where it shouldn't be + hydraulics = broken bones and nerve damage) and it will cramp up at times, usually when writing. If I haven't played in a while sometimes my hand cramps up and I have to resort to this grip on songs with 1/16th notes on the hi hat.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Interesting that my friend only uses it on his snare hand - All that triplety left hand ghost note stuff flying about at 170 bpm during a long guitar solo... yet the motivation is the same - to rest the 'regular' muscles.

No finger control issues on the ride? Moving target as opposed to a snare or a hat?

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Finger control issues on the ride? I assume you are referring to the claw. I'm using the claw as a speed relief thing. I never used it in any other capacity, so I don't know how well I could finesse a cymbal...or any other drum for that matter...with that grip. I use it on the ride cymbal exclusively.

I've never seen anyone use it on the snare hand. But I can see why guys would use it on their snare if their weak hand is far behind their strong hand.

The fact that the tip of the middle finger moves the stick from behind the fulcrum...which is also partially created by the middle finger, it really is a pretty efficient way to move a stick.

I think it looks rediculous though. I try and not use it unless I need to.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
Did you have as much control of the stick with this grip?

I play using traditional grip. So I only used this claw grip on my right hand.
And yes I have just as much control as I do with the normal grip.
My control comes primarily from controlling the rebound of the stick and using my wrist.

The only thing this claw grip does is limit the use of my index (first) finger.
And normally the index finger is not used very much to control the bounce of the stick since it's primary duty is to hold the stick against the thumb.

The only problem with this claw grip is the muscles between my index and second fingers are not developed and trained to grip the stick.
So it is a much weaker grip for me compared to the thumb and index finger grip.

And with the claw grip my thumb has nothing to do; and he gets lonely.............



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