Holding Drumsticks Using the Matched Grip

Learning how use drumsticks properly is arguably the most important aspect of learning how to play the drums for a novice. Good technique will make you a much better player, and will make things easier to learn and perform. The first step is to learn how to properly hold the sticks.

This discussion is centered around the matched grip method of holding drumsticks. Other grips, like the traditional grip, are out of scope here. The matched grip, in which the drumsticks are held the same way by both hands, was made vastly popular by Ringo Starr, who, of course, burst on the scene with the Beatles in the early 60’s. The matched grip is especially good for rock power playing, but otherwise a very versatile grip.

Drumsticks Tutorial

To start, lay a drumstick in front of you with the tip pointing away, and pick it up at the stick’s balance point using your index finger and thumb, with your palm facing down (Figure 1). If you haven’t read about drumsticks and balance, go drum sticks balance lesson page.

Fig. 1: Picking Up the Stick

Next, roll the stick across your index finger so that it is now between the first and second joints of the index finger but touching the first joint (Figures 2 & 3).

Fig. 2: Side View

Fig. 3: Bottom View

Now that you are holding the stick with just the, thumb and index finger, palm still facing down, curl the other fingers loosely around the stick (Figure 4). Don’t grab the drumstick tightly, since as you hit the drum, the stick should pivot around your index finger. Also don’t squeeze the stick too tightly with the thumb. Keep it loose.

Fig. 4: Curling the Fingers

Finally, tilt your hand at a slight angle to the right for the right hand, and to the left for the left hand (Figures 5 & 6). This will enable you use the 3 curled fingers to bounce the stick, and is also a more natural hand position.

Fig. 5: Shift from a palm facing straight down...

Fig. 6: ... to a slight angle.

For the matched grip, of course, the drumsticks are held with left hand a mirror image of the right.

The next drum technique lesson discusses how to use the matched grip with your fingers and arm to add explosive power and speed to the way you play the drums.


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