Percussion Clinic Adelaide

Trad Grip Discussions with Matthew

-----Original Message-----
From: Matthew
Sent: Saturday, 28 May 2008 10:32 PM
Subject: Trad Grip
Hi there Jim.

Still in the initial stages of my project. Have changed direction a little. Looking at the DRUM SOLO - trying to analyse it from a broad perspective. Maybe take three to four artists and their defining solos, starting with Chick Webb, then Rich, then Elvin Jones, then Weckl.

I'd like to know your opinion on a couple of things. Firstly, on the trad grip. Should the stick be right in the "V" formed by your thumb and first finger, and then the pad/side of the thumb resting gently on the section of the first finger between it's base and first knuckle? My teacher has looked at my grip and thinks it's just too 'tight'. I might take a photo of it and sent it to you.

I'm interested to know your opinion of Jojo Mayer's approach to technique as well.

Look forward to hearing from you, M.

G'day Mathew - good to hear from you.

Your description of the trad grip seems about right to me position wise. How tightly you are holding the stick shouldn't really effect the position of the stick or fingers at all, although if your fulcrum is as loose as it should be then there will be some flex in the thumb and it may come away from the finger a little as the stroke progresses upwards. It will also depend a little on if you are using the thumb "finger control style" to power the stick and if so whether you are pushing from the base of the thumb - ie moving the whole thumb forward past the index finger and pushing down, OR if you are using just the end segment of the thumb like some of the "Scottish style" players do.

I can't say I know a lot about Jojo - he seems to be a pretty good musician but perhaps not such a great technician. With both hands he has a very "jazz" style approach. RH is French grip style so hand turned, and LH is also more tuned the other way so he uses the index and next fingers over the stick for active finger control. He also uses a "sloppy fulcrum" based around the middle fingers which is a popular jazz idea used to aid in relaxing the grip. I'm not a fan of either of these ideas. They are technical short cuts to achieving relaxed speed but are absolutely no good for stronger dynamics or true speed. You would never see a rudimentalist play like this. It works fine for his common playing situations where every single note falls between 3/8 and 6/8 of the potential whole dynamic range. I'm not knocking his other attributes like feel, coordination, etc - clearly they are enviable and he is a pretty fine drum kit player.

If you want to see a real technician with both hands have a look at

All the best!

Stick Technique - All the skills you will ever need!

answers by Jim MCCarthy - 16/11/2003

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

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