How to Hold a Drumstick

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Before you walk you have got to crawl, and before you play drums you have got to hold the drumsticks properly. The grip you choose will affect how much power or control you will have while performing, and a sloppy grip will get you a sloppy sound (not to mention wrist pain). Here is an overview of various grips so you can find the one that fits your playing style.

Steps

  1. Start with no sticks in your hand. Take your right hand and make a gun shape with it. When making the gun, take your hand, make a fist and then extend your index finger and your thumb only. The rest of your digits stay curled into your palm. Take this "gun" and point it to the left. (Reverse these directions for the left hand.)
  2. Bend your wrist so the palm of your hand is facing down and your index finger is pointed out straight ahead of you, parallel with the floor, about an inch (2.5cm) or so above the snare drum head.
  3. Bend the joint closest to the tip of your index finger to make a pocket for the drum stick to sit in.
  4. Place your drumstick on this pocket.
  5. Find the balance point. Experiment for a little bit to find the stick placement that gets the most rebounds off the snare drum. Normally it is about 2 thirds of the way back from the stick tip. You should receive about 6-8 bounces when you find the correct balance point.
  6. Place your thumb on the side of the drum stick (your thumb should never be on top of the stick). You do not need to apply much pressure with your thumb, as its job is to simply hold the stick in place.
  7. Place the last three fingers onto the drumstick. These three fingers should come into contact with the drumstick before the first joint. This will set you up better for when you go on to learn finger control.
  8. Repeat all of the above steps in reverse to hold the drum stick in your left hand. This results in a "matched grip" in which both hands use the same grip, as opposed to the traditional grip, described next.
  9. Hold the palms of your hands at a 45 degree angle. Flex your wrist to move the drumstick up and down. Ensure that your wrist is moving with your palm down, so that the largest part of your wrist is bending. The movement should not come from your elbow. Use both of your fingers and wrists to move the stick.
  10. Decide whether you want to use the traditional grip. If you do, follow these steps:
    1. Use the underhand grip in your left hand.
  1.  
    1. Open your hand, palm side up.
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    1. Place the stick in the space between the thumb and index finger.
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    1. Wrap your thumb and index finger around the stick, with the pad of your thumb resting on the first knuckle of the index finger.
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    1. Rest the side of your middle fingertip on the top side of the stick.
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    1. Rest the stick on the cuticle of the ring finger; the little finger can support the ring finger.
  1.  
    1. Use the overhand grip described above in your right hand.

Tips

  • The overhand grip shown above is also known as the "American grip". Some other overhand grips are:
    • French grip: Face the palms of your hands directly towards each other and move the stick primarily with your fingers. Commonly used by timpanists, single-stroke champions and for fast tempo swing or the ride cymbal (jazz).
    • German grip: Hold the palms parallel to the drumhead and move the stick with your wrist. Used for power when playing bass drum or Moeller method.
  • Make sure the butt of the drumstick is sticking out the back of your hand, and the drumstick comes across the fleshy part of your palm. A lot of people have the stick coming through the "valley" of your hand. This is incorrect - it should contact the fleshy part of your hand!
  • Holding a drum stick, as described above seems to be a good start. However, playing with power, touch, and most important, CONTROL, goes beyond merely holding the stick. There are many variables that will apply over the years, that will alter even the way you hold the sticks, such as your particular physical makeup. Playing actually uses a combination of fingers, wrist, forearm, and shoulders.
  • The trick is relaxation. To play as relaxed as if you were in a deep and restful sleep.
  • Two things to consider. As for your hands, the secret is to learn how to hold the sticks, and let go at the same time.
  • Do not forget your feet! If youre playing the drum set, your feet are your foundation, like a house. Without a good foundation, the house will fall.

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