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How to Hold Drumsticks

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If you’re just starting out on the drums, how you grip your sticks is an important area of technique you should focus on.

When you know how to hold drumsticks correctly everything you need to do as a drummer becomes more efficient, and you help to prevent injuries.

In this article we’ll talk about the right way to grip a drumstick, with a step-by-step approach, and get into a couple of alternative drumstick grips you can try.

If you’re brand new to drumming, be sure to read our beginner’s guide on how to play drums after this.

So, how do you hold a drum stick?

The Right Way to Hold a Drumstick Step-By-Step

Below are the steps you can follow to find the ideal position to hold your drum sticks. Remember, every pair of sticks has different properties to it, so there’s no one-size-fits-all here.

Step 1 – Drop Your Hands

Drop your hands down to your sides naturally as if you were just standing around, doing nothing. Let your arms dangle.

While keeping your arms and hands totally relaxed, bring them up by bending your elbow to a 90 degree angle. Keep your hand in it’s natural position while you do this – don’t twist or turn it.

With one of your hands, grab a drum stick while your other hand remains suspended in the air, loose and natural.

Place the drum stick in the loose/dangling hand and grip it lightly with your thumb on top and index finger wrapped around to the bottom.

Step 2 – Find the Fulcrum

Next, we’re going to find the fulcrum point on your sticks. The fulcrum is the point on a stick that allows it to balance on your finger naturally.

Use your free hand to adjust where your finger/thumb are gripping the stick and test out it’s balance on just your index finger.

The idea here is to find the point which allows you to get the most rebound from the stick when it hits the drum.

Your preferred fulcrum point will be specific to you, so as you’re adjusting where you’re holding it, try bouncing it on a drum or practice pad a few time.

Choose what feels “right” to you, but a sometimes usable rule-of-thumb is to find the half way point on the stick, then find the halfway point only of the bottom half of the stick. Your fulcrum point will likely be around there, give or take an inch or two.

Step 3 – Adjust your grip

Now that you’ve found your natural hand position and the fulcrum point of your stick, hold it firmly between your thumb and index finger.

It shouldn’t be “tight,” but firm. You want to allow it to swivel easily between your finger and thumb.

Your remaining fingers should dangle under the stick as if they’re a loose support of the bottom end of the drumstick. 

Keep a little bit of space between the bottom of the  stick and the rest of your hand.

Now do the same for your other hand.

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Types of Drumstick Grip

Now that you know how to hold a drum stick properly, let’s talk about different styles of grip you can choose.

Matched Grip

Matched grip is where both hands hold the stick in the same way. Tradition grip is the opposite. But don’t let that name fool you. Matched grip is probably the most common drumstick grip.

There are 3 different types of matched grip you can choose to use.

Playing with German Grip

German grip is when you’re holding a drumstick with your palms facing downwards. It’s useful when you need more power on each drum stroke.

Playing with American Grip

American grip is probably the most popular grip. It’s where your hands are turned slightly upwards when compared to German grip.

Playing with French Grip

French grip is distinguished by your thumbs being on top of the stick. Your hand’s palms will almost be facing each other (parallel to each other). This is a good grip for intricate drumming patterns.

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Traditional Grip

In a traditional grip, each hand holds the stick differently. This is the type of grip you’ll often see marching bands or jazz drummers use.

The difference here is that your snare hand (left) actually holds the stick with your palm facing up, still between your thumb and index finger at the fulcrum point.

The rest of your fingers will rest loosely underneath the stick. Don’t clench the stick with a fist, remember to stay relaxed.

Final Thoughts

And there you go – you know everything you need to about how to hold drumsticks correctly.

There is definitely a “right” way to hold your sticks, but it’s not exactly the same for everyone. Try a few different grips and fulcrum points and see what feels most comfortable to you.

Once you find something you like, stick with it. Or don’t. Change it up. It’s all good.

If you really want to level up your drumming, I highly recommend you use a drum practice/training app like Melodics – you’ll improve your rhythm and groove whether you use electronic/acoustic drums or want to finger drum.

Thanks for reading this guide – I hope it was helpful.

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    Omar Zulfi

    Omar Zulfi is a music producer, rapper, singer, songwriter and digital entrepreneur. He is the founder and head writer at Deviant Noise. Learn more about what he's doing by clicking here.