Traditional Grip vs Matched Grip: Which Is Better For You?

By JohnPascuzzi

The matched grip is the most commonly used drumming grip because it is ergonomic, comfortable, versatile, and simple to learn. Traditional grip is still used by some drummers because it can add subtlety to your strokes and is very popular in jazz drumming.

Even though most contemporary drummers use matched grip almost exclusively, the traditional grip retains a certain allure. Both grips are valid ways to play the drums, but each has advantages and disadvantages.

So, let’s compare traditional grip vs matched grip in greater depth. They both have their ups and downs, so it’s best to compare them before deciding which is superior.

What was the origin of the traditional grip?

Before the drum set, there was a time when everything was different. Drummers used to play marching drums in a band that required them to parade around. The drums were carried by a sling that was draped across the drummer’s shoulder.

They used to tilt the marching drum to one side to avoid it getting in the way of the drummers. Using a matched grip in this situation was impractical, so drummers resorted to the traditional grip, which eventually became the standard technique.

As far as the drum set was concerned, many marching drummers passed down their knowledge to jazz drummers, who used to tilt the snare drum to honor tradition.

*** Read more: How To Hold Drumsticks? 5 Ways To Hold Drumsticks

Traditional grip in detail

Traditional grip in detail
Traditional grip in detail

Advantages of traditional grip

Jazz drummers primarily use the traditional grip. The reason for this is that jazz is one of the few genres that necessitates the subtlety that trad grip provides. This is especially true when jazz drummers begin to experiment with the sounds and techniques offered by jazz brushes.

Using the traditional grip allows you to play quieter notes and multiple strokes with less effort. It’s ideal for making angles on cymbals and a tilted drum, which is used in marching bands.

Furthermore, it appears cooler in some musical contexts. It could be because many older drumming legends used the same grip.

Disadvantages of traditional grip

The traditional grip is an artifact of old marching drumming when drummers held their drums with a sling. If a drum set were invented today, it’s unlikely that a traditional grip would be considered a relevant grip.

The disadvantage of traditional grip is that it requires the use of muscle groups that most humans are not accustomed to using. As a result, the learning curve is much steeper to reach the point where you can execute your technique flawlessly. It’s easy to injure yourself if you don’t have good technique when using this grip.

Another consideration is that moving around the kit is more difficult with a traditional grip. It’s also difficult to make strong strokes. This is one of the reasons why the grip hasn’t been used by many drummers outside of quieter, more nuanced styles.

*** Read more: How To Teach Yourself Drums: Step By Step for Beginners

Matched grip in detail

Matched grip in detail
Matched grip in detail

Advantages of matched grip

Matched grip is the backbone of modern drumming. The primary reason for this is that it is more natural, easier to learn, and, frankly, more practical.

Controlling the sticks is easier for a beginner player when the grips are matched. Sticks are held in a similar position in both hands so that the weaker hand can mimic the dominant hand and progress to that level.

In matched grip, strokes are much more even. They are more powerful, easier to move around the kit, and allow you to create better drum set dynamics.

Also, if you intend to incorporate rules or mallets into your arsenal, or if you want to experiment with open-handed play, being proficient in match grip is essential.

Disadvantages of matched grip

Apart from being less suited to jazz than traditional drip, the matched grip has a few drawbacks. It can also prevent you from playing full strokes on the hi-hat if you play cross-handed.

Also, if you’re used to playing traditional grip, learning and playing match grip may be difficult.

Which is better: traditional or matched?

Which is better traditional or matched
Which is better traditional or matched

While each grip has advantages and disadvantages, matched has emerged as the dominant technique. Consider throwing a baseball: if you know you’ll get more power pitching overhand than underhand, you’ll avoid the underhand pitch.

As the drum set evolved as an instrument, players and teachers refined techniques and discovered more ergonomic setups. The matched grip has emerged as a better one-size-fits-all approach over time.

But has the traditional grip gone extinct?

It’s less common these days, but it’s still alive and well. Many drummers today use traditional grip – either all the time or when the part calls for it – including Cindy Blackman Santana, Steve Smith, Todd Sucherman, Dave Weckl, Stewart Copeland, and Vinnie Colaiuta, etc.

Due to hand injuries, some drummers, such as Jack DeJohnette and Thomas Lang, have switched to matched grips in the middle of their careers.

One common misconception is that all traditional jazz and big band drummers used the same grip. In reality, they occasionally used matched grip.

What’s more, guess what? Buddy Rich, who has famously condemned the matched grip, even plays matched during one section of this drum battle!

Today, the underhand grip appears to carry the legends’ legacy. It is still widely used in jazz. And we’re seeing young drummers like Greyson Nekrutman reintroduce traditional grip.

Is there a benefit to learning both? Sure. But consider your playing style, the dynamics you require, how you want to move around the kit, and even how you want to look on the kit.

If you want to pay tribute to the great drummers, such as Tony Williams, Gene Krupa, or Buddy Rich, a traditional grip may be the way to go. Trad hasn’t completely vanished, but matched grip appears to be the best all-around option in most situations.

*** Read more: Blisters From Drumming: Tips To Avoid Them


  1. How long does it take to learn how to use the traditional grip?

You will need much more than 3-4 weeks to adapt to the conventional grip. This grip is no longer used as much as it once was, and as a drummer who used to play, the transition to traditional can be difficult.

How long does it take to learn how to use the traditional grip
How long does it take to learn how to use the traditional grip
  1. Which drum grip is best?

The name “matched grip” comes from the fact that both hands hold the drumsticks in the same manner. This grip works best when each stick is held close to its midpoint, allowing the stick to bounce off the drum head or cymbal.

  1. Is there a benefit to using a traditional grip?

Traditional grip is useful to learn because it produces a specific sound that works well when playing rudimental/traditional drumming patterns. Numerous jazz drummers have used it to express themselves when performing acoustic, improvisational music.

*** Read more: Birch Vs. Maple Drums: The Difference Between Them


In a nutshell, this post compared the traditional grip vs matched grip for full sight.

After all, is said and done, there is no superior technique. It’s whatever you’re most at ease with. Drummers who play in multiple genres can alternate between the two grips based on their comfort level.

Jazz drummers use a matched grip, while rock drummers use a traditional grip. Before you sit down and begin learning one or the other, you should determine which grip is most comfortable for you.

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