So far I've just been learning matched grip for my snare and drumset playing, but I see of lot of people using traditional grip as well. I'm curious, what are some of the pros and cons of matched vs. traditional? Is it hard to develop them both at the same time? Where is traditional most commonly used and why?

  • Personally my feeling is... just stick with matched grip if that's where you're at, but make sure you invest some time developing your left hand dexterity on ghost notes and subtleties. Practice your ghost note control. That's really the thing. Commented Sep 20, 2019 at 13:21

15 Answers 15


Traditional Grip Pros:

  • Very common in Marching Percussion
  • Looks 'cooler' (subjective)
  • Easy to play on a tilted drum, harder to play on a level drum.
  • Easier to play very soft as you are pulling the stick down instead of pushing it.

Traditional Grip Cons:

  • Harder to keep both of your Right and Left hand sounding the same.
  • Slightly more difficult to learn properly as it involves less common muscles and the motion is awkward to start out with.
  • Harder to move around and play different drums.

The pros and cons for Matched Grip are basically the opposite of those for traditional.

I am an advocate of learning matched first, and traditional later if you need/want to. I regularly play with both and my left hand is equally good in either grip, although it does take some extra effort to keep things that way.

Traditional grip is most commonly used in marching percussion because it is great for playing on a tilted drum (in fact, that's why it was invented). Many jazz drummers use traditional, but I've noticed that most of them switch to matched when they actually need to move around the kit.

It ultimately comes down to what works for you. :D


I am a band director with a degree in percussion performance and played and taught Drum and Bugle corp a long time. I am an expert on drumming rudiments. I first learned traditional grip and later switched to matched grip. I now use both grips, because each has its own advantages.

Traditional Grip: it is easier to produce a double or multiple bounce with the left in this grip, because the weight of the hand is mostly under the stick and this allows the response to happen easily. This is only true for a right handed person. Also, it is easier to cross over when playing multiple drums or cymbals, because one hand holds from underneath the stick while the other is over the top and this means there is less interference as the hands cross over each other. Furthermore, it must be remembered that when the drum set came about the traditional grip was it and the drum set is set up for it. That is why some drummers now play the Hi Hat with the left hand (maatched grip), so they can avoid crossing the sticks and get more power on the snare. This is a non issue with traditional grip. Another advantage of traditional grip is that it allows you to tilt your snare drum toward the mounted toms and shortens the distance allowing for quicker changes.

The downside of traditional grip is that is takes longer to develop so that both hands have equal strength and endurance. With traditional grip, your left hand has less reach so if you have an extensive set up it can prove prohibitive.

The advantages of matched grip are obvious. It is easier to develop strength, power and endurance and is easier to facilitate reaching around a large set up. The downside is that, because of the many more muscles involved is takes longer to learn left hand subtlety on graces notes and multiple bounce patterns. It is also harder to cross over in playing multiple surfaces.

  • Would a matched grip avoid some of the issues you mentioned if the drummer is using a "remote hi hat clutch"? Commented Sep 18, 2013 at 4:17
  • "it is easier to produce a double or multiple bounce... This is only true for a right handed person." I don't believe that handedness matters here. Of course the left hand is less coordinated for a right-handed person, but I wouldn't say that a certain technique works better for a less coordinated hand than another technique... You learn the necessary coordination by practice.
    – Edward
    Commented Aug 16, 2021 at 16:22

The traditional grip was developed by marching drummers to accomodate a drum hanging from a strap at a steep angle. Trad grip was pretty much the only grip in the early days of "trap set" drumming, and remains popular in jazz. Having said that, Ian Froman is a jazz artist and teacher who wrote an article about this in Modern Drummer. He plays mostly trad grip, but would learn matched grip if he had the time, and he teaches matched grip. See also Billy Cobham, Simon Phillips, Carter Beauford, Lenny White et al, who play open-handed, i.e., they play the ride rhythm with the left hand on a right-handed kit - the advantages are that you don't have to cross your hands to play either a ride rhythm on the hihat or accents on the toms while riding. People usually play open-handed with matched grip as opposed to trad grip.


I have nothing against traditional grip, but if you've made it so far without it, why change something if it ain't broken? Keep in mind why traditional grip came to be. When you know the history, you'll see how little sense it might actually make to learn it for a drumset player.

I'm not saying it's a bad technique, but are there enough real benefits for you personally to learn a new grip? How much time do you think it would take to get comfortable with it and what else could you achieve in that time. That's a question I would really ask myself before learning a whole new grip/technique.

  • 4
    The same thing is true of learning matched grip after you've done traditional for many years. I agree that it doesn't make much sense to learn the other unless you are somehow unsatisfied with your current grip. :) Commented Oct 24, 2012 at 21:05
  • Absolutely. Unless you're unsatisfied with your current grip or you feel you can gain so much more from another grip, there are many more things I would put my time into before learning another grip. Obviously mastering both has never hurt anyone, but as most of us have limited amount of hours, I would seriously compare the benefits you get from learning a new grip vs. improving your current abilities. Commented Oct 25, 2012 at 5:16

One thing that everybody is over looking though is... "Does it inspire me to play Traditional Grip?"

I am a traditional grip player and I have been playing Matched grip for a while (because everybody is saying that it is easier/better/healthier and so on). I'm quite proficient with matched grip but it doesn't inspire me. It seems that when I play a solo, no idea will come up. I find that really strange. So when I play traditional grip + kit set up for traditional playing, the ideas just pop in. Charlie Watts also plays traditional grip, but I'm pretty sure his left hand is not equally developed like Vinnie Colaiuta's left hand and look at his career. I believe that we should not forget to include the musical part of playing a certain grip into the equation.


I would think you would want to master the basic rudiments (particularly the rolls) with one grip first before tackling a second grip. So yes, I think it would be harder to learn them both at the "same" time. That said I learned both grips fairly early in my drumming journey and I'm glad I did. For whatever reason, I was more willing when I was younger to spend lots of time on technique and learning a new grip. I was taught traditional and learned matched when I started playing a kit. I used to always revert to traditional when I needed to do a roll. That got old, so I learned to roll with matched. To this day, I am still more comfortable rolling with trad. grip. Now when I play I'm always sliding between the two grips. Sometimes parts of a song compel me to go for traditional, sometimes matched so I like having the choice.

There is a video "Neil Peart: A Work in Progress", where he "reinvents" his drumming by learning trad. grip and playing with a more circular motion. I didn't find it very convincing but you might want to watch it to get his perspective.

  • 1
    I don't even think Neil was all that convinced by the idea. I think he was just trying to shake himself up. In 1980 he said that he does rudiments with trad because that's how he learned, but he doesn't recommend other learn that way. On Anatomy of a drum solo, he goes back and forth between them.
    – Hack Saw
    Commented Aug 20, 2011 at 4:30

It's mostly a feeling-thing. Traditional grip gives you a different kind of control, in my experience it allows finer nuances of sound: you can freely adjust the angle in which the stick hits the drumhead, and also the after-impact pressure – that's also possible in matched grip, but it feels less "integrated" to me. Apart from this, traditional keeps the left hand better out of the way of the right one; but this should not really be a problem anyway.


There are some techniques that can only really be done in matched (freehand), other things that can only be done in traditional (lots of brush stuff, certain finger control techniques).

The greatest benefit of traditional grip is that you can vary the angle of attack between the drumstick and whatever surface you're playing on (therefore changing the sound) in a way that would be entirely impractical in a Germanic style grip and all but impossible in a French style grip. The biggest thing going for matched grip is the accuracy to which you can mirror what each hand is doing so that both are consistent.

You could literally write a book about all the intricate little differences. What it comes down to though, is that traditional grip gives a totally different feel versus matched grip. Neither method is the "correct" way to play drums, and each has their place. When you get to the point where you are proficient at both styles you'll begin to see where and when to use each one.


look - here's the real deal. Matched grip is used for: 1) timpani; 2) mallets (xylo, marimba, bells, chimes, etc.); 3) concert snare drum; 4) sus cym; 5) concert bass drum; 5) woodblock.....literally EVERYTHING in a percussion section. The problem with traditional is that it takes YEARS to develop (NOT master) the technique into a usable grip. It takes DECADES to master the technical and subtle parts of traditional grip.

That's why you don't see too many 13 and 14 year olds killing it with traditional grip. You see the grip a lot in DCI but remember those performers practice the same thing 4-8 hours a day like it's their JOB. I can't tell you how many times I've seen kids with terrible traditional grip and a ridiculously weak left hand still trying to play effectively. It only serves to make the section very sloppy.

Many drumlines sound very clean, but only because they practice the same things for hours upon hours. If you put those same performers on a concert snare drum on a stage in an auditorium the flaws in technique would become blatantly obvious when they tried to play anything piano or pianissimo. It. Takes. Decades to master.

You are doing a severe disservice to your section and ensemble if you are trying to play traditional during your high school years. This is also why you do not see many high schools playing traditional using 5 or 6 or 11 marching snares: it is VERY difficult to play cleanly without HOURS of ensemble practice. (Witness a Chicago football team's drumline, for one).

Stick to matched grip for a clean sound. Don't force your kids to learn something which has taken professionals decades to master.


This might sound a little strange, but for some reason, the traditional grip simply feels better to me; it seems to work better regarding hemispheric brain integration. Of course, the traditional grip is not really "natural"; it's a little like patting your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time. After you learn it, tho, the match grip is the one that seems "unnatural." I learned the traditional grip as a young man, back before rock drummers started banging away with the match grip, because that is how most teachers taught beginners. I accepted it largely because the drummers I admired the most -- Philly Joe, Morello, Rich, Sperling -- all used it, and in fact tended to disparage the match grip.


There is no supporting evidence that traditional grip has any technical or musical advantages over matched grip. There are facts that support matched grip - more muscles can be employed; less to learn; translates to tympani and mallet instruments more easily, among others.

The ONLY reason to play tradition grip is a desire to play it, or to honor the aged drumming tradition. Otherwise, avoid it. I was taught traditional grip at a young age and I wished someone taught me matched grip for snare and drum kit.

If your marching band director makes snare drummers play traditional, they are mis-guided. As a drummer my advice would be to play quads/tenors if you plan to keep playing drum kit.


The over-riding pro I have for matched grip mainly pertains to novice players, in that it is easier to allow the weaker hand (traditionally the left .. no pun intended) to echo the right. I'm often telling students who have good right hand technique to use that as a model for the left.


If you are gonna try for marching band, I think that if you are trying to get a snare part you ahould try to learn trad. But becasue everything else is played matched, if you want tenor or bass learn matched.

I was able to pick up trad better than most people say its possible. I was playing as fast as matched in a few weeks with just short day to day practice.


For this subject, please allow me to be direct and to the point. I've played for over 35 years. I don't care if you're playing a snare or a 10 pc. kit. Call yourself a drummer or percussionist. Whatever! You learn traditional and you learn matched. That is the answer. No ifs. Ands. Buts. Nothin. We don't play strings. We don't blow into anything. This is a discipline. That Does Require Practice! You learn them both because your range then becomes exponential. Because, as mentioned before, traditional will unlock creativity. It will bring you finess. And the power that you can wield will blow you away. THAT is why you learn traditional grip. And just so we're clear, I'm a metal head thru and thru. Peace!


There are no advantages to trad grip. It does not provide more power or rebound and in fact; limits your progression. You have to learn two separate grips for each hand.

The hi-hat cross is not a problem, you can get maximum power out of a 6 inch stroke, if you need FFFF (or the appearance of it) just hit the snare on 2/4 with the right hand during a normal beat, not talking open hand just surface swap.

Or rimshots, which are also easier with matched grip.

Plus there is more mobility, reach, and more consistent surface angles. Because you don't have to account for 2 completely different positions of attack.. Try playing the riding the ride with the right hand while, with your left hand, getting consistent powerful and dynamic strikes on the hi-hat, snare, Toms, cymbals, and cymbal bell taps. Yeah its possible, but it will take decades of practice. Now add a cross stick (rimshot) into the mix. Impossible.

Yes you can be top tier with trad, but it does nothing but limits possibilities and requires more hours for equal results. I do use it on cover gigs though so I don't get too bored and keep my murder callus lol

Also I learned trad (nowhere near as proficient) and thank god I did because every time I see someone playing sloppy trad I cringe 100. For me trad is for marching snare, as a tradition and salute to the past. Get it right or don't use it. It is not makeup, it is not a uniform, it is not a stick trick, it is a tradition.

  • Welcome to the Music Exchange. I might suggest that you reformat your submission; as it stands, the one large block will dissuade readers from looking at your answer. Try editing this and breaking it up into multiple paragraphs. Commented Sep 17, 2021 at 10:56

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