Trad vs. Matched grip, Thomas Lang

Big Foot

Silver Member
thanks for that. I suspected I have it because I push a mouse all day - I draw on the computer. But I now realize it's the 7000kms of riding a bike on some of the worst roads in North America - in and around Montreal.

This line jumped out at me "gripping and vibration - it''s that combination. A lot of bikers, who ride motorcycles frequently, get carpal tunnel."
But for me it might be worst, a 1in bicycle tire on a stiff frame w/no suspension.

However my wrist never feels bad even after 3-4 hours of playing drums. It's almost like my wrist has had a message.
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
But he had the problem in both hands, and the right was even worse than the left, so I guess I'm not understanding the argument against traditional grip.

Like a lot of things, there seems to be some conflicting information about what causes CTS. There are a lot of sources that cite correlations to things like repetitive stress, tension in the thumb, etc., but not everyone agrees and I'm not sure what to believe. I tend to believe the hereditary factor because the smaller nerve tunnel seems like the kind of physiological trait that could be passed down from generation to generation. Maybe that predisposition, combined with a lot of repetitive stress, is the cause. Dunno.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
I blame all the stick twirling. I missed the trad vs. matched element, too- but I was a little distracted trying not to look at the gory photos every other paragraph. Varying your motion is supposed to help prevent tendinitis (if my 20YO information is still valid), so that would be one thing in favor of doing both matched and traditional.
 

michael h

Member
I suspect he wasn't relaxed enough.. I know some guys are going to think I'm nuts bbut in listing to him play he isn't as relaxed as Joe Morello or Tony ( two totally differrent techniques or others like Bill Stewart or Brian Blade plus others.. I know these are different guys with different styles but when I listen to Lang, he it doesn't sound loose to me ( or greasy at all) but it's the looseness I'm talking about.. Yes I said sound loose, because through my own trial and error and being shown from others, I now hear what I couldn't years ago as a tense, tight drummer...
 

mattsmith

Platinum Member
Ok, this whole thing is confusing.

Summer 2010, Lang is interviewed for Drum magazine stating he is abandoning traditional grip forever. Then with this brand new exclusive grip /not that he had never played matched before/ he plays in more live situations and sessions than anyone has seen him do in years...including the jackhammer stress of a freakin Dream Theater audition (where he plays matched throughout) and doesn't exactly look relaxed, which is then followed by all this new pain and a CTS analysis...followed by the explanation that it was caused not by the new grip he's been using, but by the old grip he stopped using the year before.

I certainly can't know what is really going on here and have no reason to disbelieve that Lang thinks the old grip caused this. But my question remains ...how?

As somebody who has played trad grip on the most extreme levels recorded by current measuring instruments, and for longer extended periods than anyone...why for example, would someone like me not be in an arm cast now if traditional grip played in the most relaxed way possible was responsible for what's described here? And in comparing my scenario to Lang's, I'm not talking about professional skill levels. I'm only comparing it to this.

My very unprofessional clinical analysis is that a guy known for chops is probably freaking out a little and doesn't really know yet what's going on.

I know everyone wishes him the best end end result. He's never resonated with me on any kind of an emotional level, but man can he play some drums.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
It has to be subjective, genetic or technical. There are too many great players using either technique (or both) who don't apparently have physical problems.

Anyone who says one grip is better than another is being subjective .... or, in Buddy's case, a self-promoting sheet stirrer.


yarts_traditional-grip.jpg


Sorry, but I promised myself that every time this topic comes up I would post this toon as the thread mascot :p
 

Arky

Platinum Member
I think it's all about looseness. If you pay attention to looseness (good technique goes without saying) this should likely prevent any serious issues. But even with a loose grip and correct technique there is only so much one's hands can take. Maybe he was just overdoing and it all summed up. There should be warning signs before anything serious occur - Lang might have been ignoring them.

That article certainly made me (yet) more aware of grip/strain relation.

Personally I don't see the article to clearly point out that one grip is better than the other (in terms of stress prevention), and I will continue to use both matched and trad. I think the only 'problematic' aspect of trad grip is when doing wide motions, bringing the stick way up. To me matched seems easier in that respect.

Polly, your toons are awesome! I read into the thread where you were creating avatars for several forum members... awesome! Now I know where they have their avatars from... wow!
 
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Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Polly, your toons are awesome! I read into the thread where you were creating avatars for several forum members... awesome! Now I know where they have their avatars from... wow!

Thanks Arky! It's great fun, but not as much fun as drumming ... if you send me some pics I'll immortalise you too :)

Just had a thought about trad grip. If a drummer is basically playing a black page at fff day and night for a long period, I can imagine that putting a fair load on the thumb with trad grip unless the bounce and control is super-precise. Given Thomas L's rep as a masterful player it would seem there's not much wiggle room.

This is just intuiting, I really don't know.
 

Boomka

Platinum Member
Ok, this whole thing is confusing.


As somebody who has played trad grip on the most extreme levels recorded by current measuring instruments, and for longer extended periods than anyone...why for example, would someone like me not be in an arm cast now if traditional grip played in the most relaxed way possible was responsible for what's described here? And in comparing my scenario to Lang's, I'm not talking about professional skill levels. I'm only comparing it to this.

Absolutely. I know lots of guys who have played almost exclusively traditional on the SD for decades with no trouble.
 

Too Many Songs

Senior Member
First, he makes clear in the article that a genetic predisposition to carpel tunnel syndrome is important. The experience of others is limited unless you know what their predisposition is.

Secondly, and as to the grip debate. If Thomas Lang had used matched grip throughout his career I suspect that a change to traditional would have aleviated some of the symptoms that he was suffering. As it is, he played traditional and found that switching to matched helped him out. So I don't see Thomas Lang's experience as an argument against using either grip.

I hope he recovers his playing ability.
 

Alocer

Junior Member
Ok, this whole thing is confusing.

Summer 2010, Lang is interviewed for Drum magazine stating he is abandoning traditional grip forever. Then with this brand new exclusive grip /not that he had never played matched before/ he plays in more live situations and sessions than anyone has seen him do in years...including the jackhammer stress of a freakin Dream Theater audition (where he plays matched throughout) and doesn't exactly look relaxed, which is then followed by all this new pain and a CTS analysis...followed by the explanation that it was caused not by the new grip he's been using, but by the old grip he stopped using the year before.

I certainly can't know what is really going on here and have no reason to disbelieve that Lang thinks the old grip caused this. But my question remains ...how?

As somebody who has played trad grip on the most extreme levels recorded by current measuring instruments, and for longer extended periods than anyone...why for example, would someone like me not be in an arm cast now if traditional grip played in the most relaxed way possible was responsible for what's described here? And in comparing my scenario to Lang's, I'm not talking about professional skill levels. I'm only comparing it to this.

My very unprofessional clinical analysis is that a guy known for chops is probably freaking out a little and doesn't really know yet what's going on.

I know everyone wishes him the best end end result. He's never resonated with me on any kind of an emotional level, but man can he play some drums.

there has got to be a difference between playing 1100 notes on one surface and playing the same 10 minute dream theater song 5 times in a row on 15 different surfaces...whenever i see someone moving around the kit with trad grip outside of, say a light jazz setting or something, it just looks painful. The inward rotation of the wrist in particular... What other activities would demand that kind of motion??? throwing a frisbee? and that has no vibration added in...

perhaps extreme drumming is a bit like smoking...most people wont have any problems for 5, 10, maybe 15 years then all the sudden your screwed. Of course genetics may have something to do with that, but i am of the opinion that the "oh its genetic" agrument is a quite dangerous school of thought... these sorts of problems are almost always caused by complex enviromental risk factors.
 

Arky

Platinum Member
Alocer,
look up some Todd Sucherman videos on YouTube - he is ripping the kit with trad style, and he's been doing this for quite some time. With no physical problems. Just one example of powerful trad style drummers.

IMO it's rather metal drummers and 'hard hitters' who are more prone to physical problems relating to (tight) grip. I'm talking drummers who are (or claim to be, obviously being proud of that) 'hard hitters' all the time, not those who have full dynamic control and hit hard at times/when it makes sense in a musical context. And those problems greatly stem from incorrect technique.

Alocer, what "looks painful" doesn't have to "feel painful". Did you try trad style yourself? To be in a better position to actually judge?
 

Alocer

Junior Member
Alocer,
look up some Todd Sucherman videos on YouTube - he is ripping the kit with trad style, and he's been doing this for quite some time. With no physical problems. Just one example of powerful trad style drummers.

IMO it's rather metal drummers and 'hard hitters' who are more prone to physical problems relating to (tight) grip. I'm talking drummers who are (or claim to be, obviously being proud of that) 'hard hitters' all the time, not those who have full dynamic control and hit hard at times/when it makes sense in a musical context. And those problems greatly stem from incorrect technique.

Alocer, what "looks painful" doesn't have to "feel painful". Did you try trad style yourself? To be in a better position to actually judge?

i have tried trad grip. on a pad i can maintain the same speed and dynamic levels with trad as i would with matched...i'm not trying to talk down trad or say matched grip is better...its just an odd motion...the inward wrist turning...i know there are players that can make it look amazingly efficient. Jojo Meyer is one of my favorites. Nick Pierce also has an amazing trad grip ability.

And yes, metal drumming is prone to injuries, i have had several on the road (nothing major)...i dont have perfect technique but i do play music "professionally" that demands a great deal of control and endurance, so technique and dynamics are important for me. I know what you mean by "hitting hard all the time." thats foolish way of playing drums in my opinion. I see it all the time in the local hardcore punk bands. I also toured with Frost (satyircon, 1349) and he is those one of max power all the time guys. He mentioned that he has injured himself numerous times and that he never learned proper technique...
 

mattsmith

Platinum Member
there has got to be a difference between playing 1100 notes on one surface and playing the same 10 minute dream theater song 5 times in a row on 15 different surfaces...whenever i see someone moving around the kit with trad grip outside of, say a light jazz setting or something, it just looks painful. The inward rotation of the wrist in particular... What other activities would demand that kind of motion??? throwing a frisbee? and that has no vibration added in...

perhaps extreme drumming is a bit like smoking...most people wont have any problems for 5, 10, maybe 15 years then all the sudden your screwed. Of course genetics may have something to do with that, but i am of the opinion that the "oh its genetic" agrument is a quite dangerous school of thought... these sorts of problems are almost always caused by complex enviromental risk factors.

Well maybe so...I have some pretty aggressive kit playing out there for people to see, but I would suppose most of what I do is a different thing...and with a 4 piece no less.

Still, I think you have to go back to the relaxation issue. I agree with michael h. Every time I'm looking at Lang play he just seems very tight.

Alocer, where in NC are you from? I was born in Salisbury, and have family in Greenville, NC not SC, and Lenoir.
 

Alocer

Junior Member
Well maybe so...I have some pretty aggressive kit playing out there for people to see, but I would suppose most of what I do is a different thing...and with a 4 piece no less.

Still, I think you have to go back to the relaxation issue. I agree with michael h. Every time I'm looking at Lang play he just seems very tight.

Alocer, where in NC are you from? I was born in Salisbury, and have family in Greenville, NC not SC, and Lenoir.

whats up matt! i know you have a hell of a talent...i've msg'd you on here years ago with a different username. my real name's Alex Lancia, just recently made a quick account with my cheesy black metal stage name hahaha... I'm from Raleigh, my band plays in charlotte so I pass thru greenville all the time! i didnt realize you were from NC, thats really cool. So i imagine your aquaintences with Blake Richardson and other shredders from the area?
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
I always thought Lang looked a bit tense, too, more than almost any elite drummer I can think of. The article mentioned Carl Palmer had the same surgery, and he's another who seems very tight behind the set. Virgil Donati is another who seems to really have a firm grip on the sticks, but I've never heard any talk of him having problems.

I used to use a very firm grip from drum corps and I experienced CTS symptoms when I was young trying to adapt it to drum set playing. I play traditional grip, but the symptoms were always in my right hand. I changed my technique drastically to a much looser grip and the symptoms went away.

As with all things medical, the truth about what causes it is probably more complex than the patients want to hear. It's human nature to want to blame a health issue on one thing. Maybe it makes it seem easier to fix or something. But I wouldn't be surprised if a combination of genetic predisposition, overuse and bio-mechanical factors all play a role.
 

Ekim

Silver Member
It's a shame he went the surgery route. I hope it turns out well for him.

But I was told my cubital tunnel syndrome was only correctable by surgery. But it's gone now. And I refused the surgery. I'd already gotten my carpal tunnel symptoms to go away after some simple exercises, something the "expert medical doctor" outright scoffed at. I really felt like punching his face in.

I've found it's all about tension. I ride motorcycles too. And my own CuTS set in after a 2000+, tension-filled ride from Indianapolis to Boston & back so I know how quickly, and painfully these things can happen.


As for this linked article, I fully intend to master traditional grip, myself. I've used it almost not at all in the past, but it offers a far different feel that I find compelling.

We'll see.
 

Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
Yet it still isn't enough to have me believe in one "superior" grip over another for all players across every playing application. As with Buddy's attempt to sing the praises of trad grip by pulling off one of the most feeble matched grip tom rolls ever, in order to proove his point......all it does is affirm that guys have always and will continue to use what best gets the job done for them.

Although I do think those of you alluding to efficiency of motion have a valid point.

Compare Langs hands in this clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Zmp-C9v6Go
.....whilst there's little inherently wrong with what he's doing, it just doesn't hold a candle to this example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CujyFrnsmGs
..........also played trad grip til the day he died and did so with one of the most flawless pair of hands I've ever seen.
Or even this guy giving the exact same lesson as the Lang clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sz1oUOtla9w.

When I look at the three examples of trad grip here, it's easy to see who isn't gonna have a problem at some point...... to my knowledge neither of 'em did.

It ain't the grip guys. There's just been far too many who have managed to blaze away with traditional grip for their entire careers, without hint of carpel tunnel or any other ailment.
 
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