A lifetime of practice material.
Material by Mike Prestwood
  Home |  Pad Work & Rudiments |  Drum Set |  Marching |  Misc. |  Mike's Books |  Shop

Traditional versus Match Grip

"This page presents the facts as well as some advice and a few opinions on
grip. The opinions on this page are my own, and are just opinions based on
playing, teaching, and studying drums since 1978. Although I use both traditional
and match grip in my own playing, I strongly recommend match grip to my
students. I use traditional grip with snare drumming and Jazz drum set playing,
and match grip for everything else." -Mike Prestwood

Just starting out?
If you haven't adopted either match or traditional grip yet, don't waste your time with traditional grip, learn and stick with match grip. Match grip is more natural and you'll have an easier time building great chops. Traditional grip was invented for a marching snare drummer to compensate for the extreme angle of the snare drum when carrying it with a strap. Although traditional grip is "cool", match grip is a superior grip. You can always learn traditional later.

Personal Note: Personally I started with both traditional and match grips right from the beginning and have stuck with both. I drum about half with traditional grip and half with match grip. Why? The sole reason is that traditional grip is cool. No other reason. When I play jazz, a very-cool genre, I actually prefer traditional grip. When I play rock, a powerful genre, I prefer match grip.

Match and Traditional Grips

Although much has been written about match versus traditional grip and a debate continues, it's really a simple issue. There is NO debate as to which is stronger and has more endurance. Although you can build up your traditional grip speed, strength, and endurance, match grip is ALWAYS easier learn.

Match Grip

With match grip, you hold both sticks the same.

  • Focal point is either the pointing finger (orchestral grip) or middle finger (marching grip).
  • Flat wrist.
  • Tilt your wrist down a bit (pinky lower than thumb).

Traditional Grip (left hand)

With a traditional grip, your right hand is the same as explained above but the left hand uses a different grip to easily increase the stick angle.

  • Focal point is between thumb and pointing finger.
  • Stick rests on tip of ring finger (center of first digit).

The Left Hand:

The Right Hand:


Traditional Grip Demo

Marching Style
Tighter style used for strength.
Drum Set / Orchestral Style
Looser more musical style.


Tips and Suggestions

  • If you already know traditional grip, it's perfectly okay to use your traditional grip however you feel.
  • If you already know match grip and want to learn traditional, go ahead but don't "pretend" it's better. It's just not.

What do I do?

  • Building Chops - Do most exercises using both traditional and match grips and frequently lead with your left stick.
  • Playing Rock - I use both but prefer match grip because rock is a power genre. 
  • Playing Jazz - I prefer traditional grip because jazz is cool and traditional grip is cool. For me, traditional grip feels more "jazzy" than match grip probably because that's what I used when I first started playing jazz.
  • Percussion instruments - When playing misc. percussion instruments with drum sticks, I almost always use match grip.

HH Demo

Playing two handed hi-hat beats with a traditional grip is slightly more comfortable than with a match grip. This is because traditional grip allows you to drop your elbow down more than match grip (the angle of the hi-hat and your position on the drum stool effect comfort as well). This is a minor consideration but if you know both traditional and match grip, consider using traditional grip when playing hi-hat grooves.

Videos ♪♫

Match Grip: Comfortable Enough

Traditional Grip: More Comfortable

 "Play-drums: Drum Traditional Grip versus Match Grip"
  Printable PDFs |  Videos |  Mixing Clips |  Original Compositions |  Search |  About Mike
Follow us on: 
A personal website of Mike Prestwood.
Copyright (C) Mike Prestwood. All Rights Reserved.