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Does Traditional Grip Have A Place In Modern Rock?

Shannon Larkin
Age 45
Years Playing 32
Bands Godsmack, Ugly Kid Joe, Another Animal
“Most traditional grip players tend to play with more grace notes and use swells in their rolls making very dynamic-sounding fills (an example being the great Ian Paice). Typically in modern rock (and metal) we use a wall of thick, chunking guitars that ends up hiding a lot of finesse playing from the drummer, so traditional grip isn’t as powerful in the genre. Even Peart studied and mastered traditional, made a record and toured, then reverted back to standard.”

Thomas Lang
Age 45
Years Playing 40
Bands StoRk (ex—Kylie Minogue, Spice Girls)
“In real modern rock I see no real use for it anymore. After much experimentation, I decided to switch to matched grip about two years ago. Trad grip was ’invented’ as a compromise and a solution for a ridiculous problem: To march across the battlefield and still manage to hit while carrying the field drum on your hip. Here’s the bottom line: If trad grip was so great, why don’t we hold both sticks like the left hand?”

Jack Irons
Age 50
Years Playing 37
Bands Wallflowers (ex—Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers)
“Many great drummers like Vinnie, Copeland, and Gadd do it, so definitely. If a drummer feels most comfortable using traditional grip then why not play that way?”

John Humphrey
Age 42
Years Playing 27
Band Seether
“I think for those who have mastered the art, it can work. Neil Peart, after years of playing matched, changed to a traditional grip ... and he still played with a lot of power. A grip certainly can be another characteristic that gives an individual player his or her unique style and feel.”

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  • It’s harder to get Tom power with traditional, thought I’ve seen guys wailing that way - it’s takes a strong, balances hand to do so.  But the best snare work, for me anyway, comes from traditional.  I can come close with matched, but it always falls short somehow.  The trick is use both as the situation warrants.  Sometimes I find myslef throwing in a time stretch or crash, to give my left hand the chance to flip to traditional for some a quick paradiddle that I’m only comfortable doing that way - then flip back.  For single grace notes I no find little difference, but for multiple grace notes traditional really offers more dynamics and bounce control.