Traditional grip thumb

Phil A.

Junior Member
I've been (trying) playing traditional grip for almost a year and i think it's been going well for the most part. The only thing is I can't control the stick during single strokes with just the thumb without a dull ache starting. I got this approach from Tommy Igoe in great hands for a lifetime and Jojo Mayer also has something similar in his DVD. I've just been playing singles with my thumb connected to my index finger So first: do you think I need to learn to play like this (with just the thumb? And second: could you give an explanation of what the thumb actually does?
 
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Stroker

Platinum Member
One of the main objectives behind mastering control of the stick by open palm with clamped thumb over stick, is to get a feel for the bounce, catch and stroke, but it's definitely not critical or mandatory.

If you have moved onto incorporating your index finger into your play and are comfortable with your progress, stay with it.

One problem you may be encountering with singles if utilizing just an open hand with clamped thumb over stick technique, is you may be trying to obtain too much speed, which the technique is not suited for.
 

tcspears

Gold Member
I think playing with just the thumb is an exercise to get you used to the feel, and the rebound... I don't think you'd want to actually play rudiments up to speed like that. Playing with just the thumb is to get your wrist and hand used to the motions, without adding in all the other fingers.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
I suppose the dull ache could be due to the fact that this is a new exercise for your thumb. However, if you are holding the stick with your thumb too far (to the rear of the stick) you are putting undue stress on your thumb. You will want to hold the stick with your thumb at the pivot point (fulcrum) where the stick is balanced . Equal weight, middle of the stick. Then move your thumb towards the rear of the stick about one inch.

If you hold the stick too much toward the rear of the stick, it is harder to hold with your thumb. This is true for traditional and matched grip. Some drummers hold the stick near the end of the stick because it creates a nice strong whip and a hard hit on the drum. If you develop strong hands it can be done. But if you use your wrist and arm properly you can get plenty of whipping motion without holding the stick so far to the rear of the stick.

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feldiefeld

Senior Member
If your thumb is aching, perhaps it is absorbing too much of the impact of the stick. When I play louder singles or accents with traditional grip, I open my hand up so that the only finger that touches the stick is my thumb.

But the stroke should be really loose; such that the thumb is just being pushed back by the stick on the rebound upward. If your stroke is really loose, you should absorb less impact on your thumb, and hopefully the problem will go away.

I actually have mostly switched to matched now so I don't deal with any of this stuff at all. I like it better that way. My two cents.
 

mrfingers

Senior Member
If your thumb is aching, perhaps it is absorbing too much of the impact of the stick. When I play louder singles or accents with traditional grip, I open my hand up so that the only finger that touches the stick is my thumb.

But the stroke should be really loose; such that the thumb is just being pushed back by the stick on the rebound upward. If your stroke is really loose, you should absorb less impact on your thumb, and hopefully the problem will go away.
This^ and be sure the stick rests in the web of your thumb and forefinger when you "fan" the stick. The web does half the job of holding on to the stick while the thumb rebounds the strokes, but don't move the thumb up and down. Let it rebound the stick.
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
This is a pretty big subject.

Personally, I think I'd just go with the "karate chop" grip. No connection between thumb and index. Then work on the wrist motion with that grip while trying to find the right balance point on the stick so I could loosen up on impact. Thumb should stay straight and in place. The margins are way smaller than with matched grip, but when the balance as well as the correct motion is there it should start revealing itself.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
So first: do you think I need to learn to play like this (with just the thumb? And second: could you give an explanation of what the thumb actually does?
First, proceed cautiously if you're doing something that hurts. That's not supposed to happen.

I don't know if you need to learn all-thumb technique-- some people use it all the time, some people don't use it at all. It was never brought up when I was learning traditional grip. In my professor's school of thought, the thumb was just for gripping the stick-- the thumb was extended as in the picture, and you never laid it across the stick, the way a lot of people do. Finger technique basically used the index finger only. So I guess you can play everything you need to play without thumb technique.

But it's good to have multiple ways of propelling the stick, so it's worth exploring it, at least. At worst it's taking time away from other things you could be practicing.
 

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Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
It has worked well traditionally, but if we want to compete with the other hand and have the full spectrum, including a high and loud wrist stroke, this needs to be included.

This is the reason why a couple of my teachers went over to matched. It's needed for a lot of types of music, and really what we're talking about is just to have the full dynamic range also when playing with formal technique. It's also just good for your hands regardless.

Not many, including me angle the drum as much as it tradtionally was when the grip was invented, but if you can open up the grip and have the right balance, you can go as high as you want without having to feel like you're twisting your forearm out of it's socket.
 

Phil A.

Junior Member
Thank you to all the replies. I think I was pushing with the thumb too much and now I'm able to do the open-hand thing at slow tempos, and I'll keep working it.
 
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