STICK TECHNIQUE - the technique Bible!

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A Word on Technique

Many will argue that one technique is better for a certain type of playing, and another technique may be better suited to something else. While this may have some truth, I believe that the word "technique" applies to all "techniques" at once. Technique is about control of the sticks, and the better your technique is, the more control you will have, and the more you will be able to do. Period. If a "technique" is not so good for a particular style of playing - then it is no technique at all! - it clearly is flawed as it limits the control of the stick required for that style of playing. The perfect technique gives you perfect control - ie the ability to do whatever you need with the stick to achieve the desired notes - whatever they are!

What is in this book is the way I personally aim to play, and I use it for everything. I have combined all the different ideas about hand movement that I have come across. I’ve applied a great deal of logical thought and experimentation along with some common sense - and developed a way of playing which gives maximum speed and more importantly - control at that speed! - no matter what type of drumming you are involved with you can get the sound and results you are after.

Remember that by developing "technique" we are developing control of the sticks - ie. the ability to do with the sticks, whatever we want!

The Correct Matched Grip

The matched grip is very effective because it utilises all the sections of our hands in a very natural way. The most important part of this grip is the "fulcrum" or "pivot point". This is where we actually hold on to the stick, and is in most cases the ONLY part of our hand which actually grips it.

Getting this fulcrum correct is the single most important thing you can do for your grip. There are two fundamental points which need to be addressed: Which parts of the hand are creating our fulcrum, and which part of the stick the fulcrum should hold.

With matched grip we hold the stick between the thumb and first finger, with the butt of the stick on the palm side of the hand. The stick should contact the tip of the thumb using the whole of the fleshy pad under the thumbnail. The first finger should contact the stick behind the middle knuckle (the side closest to the palm) and on the side of the finger. By having just these single points of contact either side of the stick, we create a good hinging point for the stick to rotate around. (Remember the picture with the stick as a see-saw?) Imagine just like we would have with a see-saw, a steel pin going through our thumb, the stick and our finger. This pin is the axis of rotation of the stick.

So where on the stick should this imaginary pin penetrate?
The “magic spot” on the stick where we place the fulcrum is called the “centre of balance”, or sometimes the “balance point”, and it is usually about two fifths of the stick’s length from the butt end. This varies a little however, depending on the shape and composition of the drumstick model.

We call this spot the “centre of balance” because the stick will actually balance at that point as the stick is bouncing, without even being held. You can experiment with the balance point by using a round pen or pencil, or even your finger - and simply resting the stick on it instead of gripping it. Using the other hand, try bouncing the tip of the stick on a flat drum or practise pad, just like you might bounce a basketball. You will find that if you place the pen too far back towards the butt of the stick, you will get very little rebound as there is too much weight at the tip. If you just lift and drop the stick in this position, you will only get about one or two bounces at best. If we place the pen too far forward - say in the middle of the stick - there is not enough weight at the tip, and dropping the stick produces no result at all!

If we try to forcibly bounce the stick with the other hand now, the stick will actually try to find the correct balance point all by itself, by jumping off the pen and shifting backwards. Once we find the correct centre of balance, the stick should rest still on the pen whilst we bounce it easily.

Holding the stick exactly at this correct balance point is very important, as it determines how easy it is to bounce the stick with the fingers, and it also means that there will be no extra stresses on the fulcrum. Remember that with the corect spot the stick needed no grip at all, but with the wrong spot the stick was jumping off the pen - we don’t want that jumping between our fingers!

Once we have placed our fulcrum at the balance point, between the thumb and finger as described, then we can proceed with the rest of the grip. The fingers (including the first finger) should wrap down along the stick, stretching down towards of the butt. The little finger might not even be long enough to actually contact the stick. The butt of the stick should protrude just past the wrist joint, with the shaft resting pretty much in the groove of the hand.

When we are using finger control, it is best for the shaft to be more towards the thumb side of the groove of the hand. This makes the stick point more straight back towards the elbow joint, avoiding the excessive sideways wrist bend that often contributes towards tendonitus problems - in particular, carpel tunnel syndrome. It also increases the efficiency of the finger’s movement as they are propelling the stick in the same direction that the wrist hinges in.

When we isolate the wrist and fingers whilst playing from the elbow however, the stick often goes into a slightly different position. In this case the shaft of the stick should rest more accross the hand towards the little finger side, so that the little finger can actually wrap right around it. We do this because much of the time when we are playing from the elbow, we don’t actually want the stick to rebound. All the fingers become part of the gripping force so that there is no fulcrum in the hand at all. If anything, the little finger does most of the gripping, so that the gripping force is more behind the balance point. This increases the stick’s tendency to stay down without rebounding.

Even though this sounds like we are using two quite different techniques, in practice, this is not really so. Remember that when we are using the fingers to propel the stick and bouncing it, even though the shaft is on the thumb side of the groove of the hand, it is not actually coming right into the palm and making contact. When we wrap all the fingers right around the stick, we are not using the fingers anyway, so it does not matter that their direction of movement (because they are not moving) doesn’t line up with that of the wrist.

This lesson is selected text and pictures from the book "Stick Technique". To find out much more about technique and this unique opportnity to improve your playing, visit

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