To German grip? or not to German girip?


Platinum Member
I came back around to a pretty simple German grip on my own about 6-7 years ago to help accommodate a lot of low-volume situations I was playing in. That technique was predominantly wrist, very little finger-- pretty controlled. I had to spend some time eliminating tension, and some motions and grip elements that weren't contributing-- I wanted a clean wrist stroke, and it's an easy grip to clean. Once I got there, it turned out to be very effective for doing a range of stuff, and I haven't needed to alter it dramatically since then. For me, in actual playing, technique is more of a continuum than a set thing, and I feel it's been a good foundation technique.

There are a couple of (seeming?) assumptions here I do not share:

-- I don't really evaluate grips in terms of their high performance potential. Technique for me is for playing normal stuff on various instruments with a good sound at a realistic volume and density for the instrument. My idea of normal stuff can get very dense, so we're not talking about just simple Motown beats or playing Satin Doll or something-- more like normal expert drumming. I'm not looking for extreme potential speed and power.

-- I'm not a snare drum-centric player, and I'm not looking for one universal perfect technique I'll use for everything. I play different ways on different instruments, music, feels and sounds, reverting to my established best technique when I need to/decide to execute something particularly snare drum-istic.

That being said, I feel like I've taken the technique above about as far as I can take it-- I may get to work adapting an American style version of it.

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
Great video. I agree with you Bill on the German grip. I was taught to play German grip. But over the years developed the American grip. No way can I play with German grip while playing my second rack tom, my floor tom or my ride cymbal with my right hand. It's almost impossible.

Are you going to post the pros and cons of American and French grip? That will be very interesting. I use American grip with the right hand and traditional grip with the left.
I use French grip with my right hand on the ride cymbal when I'm playing softly.
Except for playing softly on the ride cymbal, I have strong opinions on French grip. But I'll wait to hear your thoughts.



Senior Member
I don't think there's a American grip. It's either German or French IMO. Every drummer that learns German and French, does everything in between on a drum set.

Check out some of the masters like Jim Chapin and you will see how German grip is used. Thumb on the side, but when they are moving around the set, there's all the American/French for what they choose for the song. Most drummers never really learn to apply technique the way guys like Jim Chapin and Freddie Gruber taught it.

I really don't care what any drummer uses as technique as long as they can do the job, but it's worth learning how the old masters played because it will make you more fluid and help get across complicated ideas if you want. I'm in that process of learning how those big band/master teachers/players played and it has helped me a ton. It's not a need, but it will help anyone to learn to play easier.

Then there's all kinds of guys that developed their own system of technique. That's amazing as well and I'll be checking that out down the road when I get where I want with these old cats showing me.

What I'm learning now is not what I thought would be a way to learn technique, but now that it's been shown and explained it makes perfect sense. It takes time!


Silver Member
Thanks for the Vid, Bill! I’m with Todd - I choose techniques that revolve more around sound and comfort... I’ve found German is a great way to start because the way our wrists work - learning basics like Freestroke and eventually Moeller is easier to get with German. I like teaching wrist strokes before getting into fingers - getting the larger muscle groups relaxed and stretched before the more subtle stuff. When I first got into German (which was after many years of playing) I thought it was just a power grip - but I’ve found that I can use it for very quite playing too...

But as Bill mentioned, on the kit teachers of German start rotating their wrists under, to physically accommodate the instrument. This is why it’s imperative to get comfortable with American and French. Moving onto the kit after getting those motions on the pad, you will naturally adjust. They key is to be adept at all three so you get to a point where you’re not even thinking about it anymore.


Platinum Member
I think inevitably and eventually on a kit you play German, American, and French grips because of the spatial relations of a kit and the angle of your arm and wrist, and I also think the choices of usage range from what feels natural/comfortable to a grip that helps in playing certain things. Like I always play matched, except with brushes where sometimes I play traditional because it's easier and more natural to play certain things for some reason? I think Bill's argument is more in context of technique (different grip advantages for finger control or whatever your trying to play on the kit as he so eloquently argues) and I see the merit of his argument. But, in my mind, I can't help but see Freddy Gruber dangling his limp wrist over a snare as a natural starting position-saying now just stick some sticks in there LOL. To me personally I'm really comfortable with German and American but French just isn't as natural and seems more forced-that or I tend to use the grip playing things that aren't as natural and more forced-hmmmm actually the later the more I think about it. Anyways probably in general I'm more of an "all-American" boy.


"Uncle Larry"
Well everyone is different.

My German grip...there's no angle, it's on the same line as my forearm.

I agree that the angle between the stick and the forearm is counter-productive.

I was always taught that the stick should be in line with the forearm with matched.

Everyone is different.


I dont use German grip much at all really, but I don't have anything against it per se, it's just not the way my hands evolved over the years. I use Canadian grip- it's halfway between American and French (wink, wink)...

A few assumptions in the video I don't agree with... first, that the fingers don't have a very big range of motion. There are times when, if I'm playing a Frenchish grip, my fingers are almost extended all the way and the stick is at a 45 degree angle, pretty much almost pointing back at my shoulder, with my thumb acting as the fulcrum. This pretty much takes care of the "you can't play with any power when you use French grip" argument. Closing the fingers at the right time during a down-stroke makes for an extremely powerful stroke with an absolute minimum of effort. I challenge anyone to remain relaxed and hit harder than I do (I'm a very heavy hitter when the mood strikes and I've dented ride cymbal bells without even trying to hit that hard). Perhaps your comment was directed strictly at the role of the fingers when using German grip. If so, I agree to some extent, but I can see how some players have probably still learned to use the fingers to a larger degree than you are implying.

Second, I don't think the range of motion is all that limited if you use a Moeller type stroke with German grip. Rotating your forearm, like you are turning a door knob, allows for a great range of motion in both directions. I use a back-handed Moeller stroke all the time to hit my floor tom, cymbals to my left (I'm left handed), and I even play my ride like that at times.

Third, the whole angle relationship to leverage thing just seems a bit academic to me. I mean, if you're staying relaxed and using physics to your advantage, how much leverage do you really need to exert on your sticks anyway? You would have to be using an awfully tight grip for any of that to come into play.

Jeff Almeyda

Senior Consultant
The more I play, the less use I have for the old style "around the barrel" German grip.

The fulcrum provided by the thumb on top is more stable and requires no squeezing from the side in order to hold it.


Senior Member
I love that Buddy Rich video! Seems like he just snorted an 8 ball! Ha ha!!!

The German grip is what I use most, but if you were to look at my hands I guess you would call it the American grip. I'm a fan of the pinky finger (drumming only!) and like to get into learning very detailed technique with German because I think it's easier to play that way. It's a lot more time consuming to learn for me as well. When I started learning the french grip, it took my "so called American"grip to a whole new level because they are all connected. I don't care what people call it. It's awesome even if it's called the flying fat man grip! There... That's my grip! Y'all want to learn the flying fat man grip?

Watch all the guys that are playing with amazing technique on the snare (drum set) and what I see is German grip. Then it changes when moving. Steve Gadd is what I'd call German grip for his snare playing but it could be flying fat man.


i havent had a chance to view the vid but since we are on tech, i always used german for moellar technique and just general hits around the kit and then I use french for fingers (single stroke roll). Lately I have actually done a lil moellar out of french grip to get accents on single stroke rolls but would this be considered the proper way to do this? Also how can you guys play exclusive french grip around the kit without hurting your wrists or getting tendinitis? I agree the fulcrum has more control but i cant see myself hitting the snare on 2 and 4 in french grip. Its funny the more i think about it i do use french grip a bit more than I am realizing but its more in the context of rudiments. For example a 6 stroke roll starting with the first hit on the tom and then the rest on the snare (rllrrlr) but it seems like there is less pressure on the wrist due to the transition from single stroke to double stroke. I am probably over thinking this lol
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Silver Member
i Lately I have actually done a lil moellar out of french grip to get accents on single stroke rolls but would this be considered the proper way to do this? Also how can you guys play exclusive french grip around the kit without hurting your wrists or getting tendinitis?

The thing with these grips is the proper way is what works for you - sounding good with no pain... The way I was taught French was to start in German position with middle finger fulcrum, and simply rotate my wrists so my thumbs were on top. Now you have a new position whereby you can use your wrists for volume. If you want to use more fingers, then your fulcrum can change accordingly.


New member
It's interesting that the orthodox view, including from Jojo, is that German is more powrful than French. Never seen anyone contend with that view. Except for every single person I've ever seen drive a nail with a hammer. That includes expert framers driving spikes with rather large framing hammers. Imagine the work they could get done much more easily if they would adopt German grip. And I notice that Mr. Bonham tended to go French. Just making some observations. I'm sure the orthodox view is correct. Just doesn't make sense to me.


New member
Good point about the controlled stroke following a hard hit. It's funny, what is usually stated is that German gives the advantage for power, and French is for subtlety, and that's really the opposite, it seems to me, of what you are pointing out. Arresting an accented stroke to follow with a soft stroke is what dynamic nuance is all about.

So I take that as chalk one up for German being a finesse technique, while perhaps French is better for less nuanced banging away.

Not that the issue is settled for me, but the Orthodoxy is very suspicious.

And now I have to watch the Led Zeppelin concerts again, thank you very much.

Here is a thread which seems to indicate Bonham used German Grip for much of his drumming.

I don’t study Bonham so I don’t have an opinion on his style.

An advantage of German grip in my experience is that when striking hard and then keeping the stick at a low position (for instance, for a ghost note), the hold of the whole hand is more comfortable than just the thumb by itself, such as with French grip.

Grips have strengths and weaknesses.


Platinum Member
So I take that as chalk one up for German being a finesse technique, while perhaps French is better for less nuanced banging away.
My primary grip is German. I play death metal. What's that about finesse?

I do switch to American/French as I rotate away from center, doing fills and such. But if I'm hats/ride/snare it's all German utilizing fulcrum and bounce. It's mostly fingers for speed and efficiency.


Well-known member
until reading this thread I paid zero attention to my grip style, turns out I have a French-ish grip with my left and a German-ish grip with my right. I'm sure every teacher out there would have a fit and do everything possible to change what I do.