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On the fulcrum and Matched grip - (Questions from Ben W)

-----Original Message-----
From: vdenton3
To: jim@percussionclinic.com
Sent: Sunday, March 09, 2003 11:02 PM
Subject: stick grip
I was wondering. I use the matched grip myself and I've often noticed that I have a tendency to hold the left stick further away from the butt end than the right hand, and I seem to play better this way but I try to correct myself and hold both sticks the same distance from the butt end. How important is it to hold both sticks the same distance from the butt end? Also, I notice there is a tendency to have a looser fulcrum with the left hand compared to the right, is this normal? Is it important to literally "match" the grip of both sticks?------thanks, Ben W.


Dear Ben

Your questions are interesting ones - I wonder are you left or right handed?

In general I would say matching your grip is important. When you think about it, it makes sense. If you are trying to make the same sound with each stick - then we want to do exactly the same thing with each stick to create that sound. So from a purely technical point of view I would say - get the fulcrum in the same spot - have the same tightness of grip etc. Having said that - that sort of exact technical view is mainly applicable to a rudimental snare drummer. What sort of playing do you do / are you interested in. Most kit players don't actually spend a great deal of time making the hands sound the same - in fact the hands play very different roles most of the time. For example a right hander may easily develop a style where the right hand is playing a lot more notes than the left hand, and louder. Say if the right hand plays all the main notes, and the left hand fills in the gaps by playing ghosted style notes on the snare or whatever. Well the right hand would need more tension in the fulcrum just to hold the stick in there. The left hand is doing bugger all really, so the fulcrum would of course relax quite a bit.

Where the fulcrum is along the stick is a bit of a different matter. It is still perhaps not so important when playing kit, but there are some things to consider. Basically the stick will operate most efficiently with the fulcrum in one position. Holding the stick in any other spot will get less efficient rotation around the fulcrum - less efficient rebound in other words through the fingers. You may choose to modify your fulcrum position for a number of reasons. Rudimental players often grip more towards the middle of the stick. This makes it pretty hard to use the fingers well, but encourages the extra arm and wrist usage for that direct and powerful style of playing. It is aimed at using the arms to control stroke height without the rebound affecting the grip too much. It is also done because it makes it much easier when sections employing backsticking are played, and it means that the drum line can stand an inch closer together. I often see kit players who are playing rock/blues music a lot having the fulcrum further back on the left hand. It means you get more of a swing at the snare drum for those incessant backbeats. I would myself prefer to get the stick bouncing a little as a method to avoid the rebound jarring the fingers after a solid snare drum stroke. By having the fulcrum further back you can also avoid jarring the fingers, as there is not much rotation about the fulcrum from rebound - so you can just slap the stick down and forget about your technique. The reason I would prefer not to see this is twofold. One: it means the fulcrum is in a lousy position whenever you want to stop playing backbeats and do something a little more demanding. Two: The rebound energy is still there - it just doesn't go into the fingers so you don't tend to notice it. Instead it goes into the more robust wrist and elbow joints. Over a long period of time though this will still do damage to these joints. There are a lot of similarities between tennis elbow and the sort of thing a too firm grip on a drum stick will do to you.

Hope this has been some help. Feel free to ask some more if you don't understand or whatever.

Jim McCarthy
This type of information and Much, much more, is available in Stick Technique - New 2nd Edition!


answers by Jim MCCarthy - 09/03/2003

For more help on grip and technique you can email Jim.

Stick Technique - All the skills you will ever need!

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