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How to Buy and Hold…Drumsticks

There’s a method of investing in the stock market called “buy and hold.”  According to this theory, the investor does a lot of research to find a good company, buys the company’s stock and holds on to it even if the stock price goes down.  If the investor has done their homework correctly, the stock price will eventually increase in value so the stock can be sold at a profit.

I’m not an investment advisor and I’m not recommending that you follow the “buy and hold” theory for investing.  I do, however, suggest that you use the “buy and hold” method for drumsticks.  In this lesson you’ll learn how to hold a pair of drumsticks and how to buy the sticks that are right for you.   After you’ve bought the drumsticks, you’ll want to hold them as much as possible until you are familiar with how they feel.  You’ll want to continue to grip them as you learn to play drum beats to your favorite songs.  We’re following a plan to play drums in 4 weeks and this is Lesson 4 of 12.  See the complete Plan by clicking here.

First let’s learn how to hold drumsticks so that, when you visit a local drum shop or music store, you’ll know how to evaluate sticks before you buy them.  If you don’t plan to visit aVic Firth American Classic Hickory Wood Tip 5A Drumsticks store and want to buy drumsticks from an online store, I would recommend that you buy Vic Firth American Classic Hickory Wood Tip 5A Drumsticks.  These are top quality sticks and 5A is a standard size (not too big and not too small).  Sticks come with both wood and nylon tips, so make sure you select “Wood 5A.”

If you don’t already have a pair of drumsticks, you can use a pair of chop sticks, long wooden pencils, screwdrivers or anything else that simulates a round stick.  Learn how to hold the “stick” by following these instructions:

  1. Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor.  Rest your hands, palms down, on your knees.  Review Your First Drum Beat (No Drums Required)) for how to sit at a drum set.
  2. Hold your right hand about 4 inches above your right leg and spread your fingers.
  3. Pick up a drumstick by the thin end (the “tip”) with your left hand, mentally divide the stick into thirds and hold one third of the thick end of the stick (the “butt”) under your right hand.
  4. Pinch the stick between your right thumb and last knuckle of your right forefinger.  You should be holding about one third of the stick while the other two-thirds will be used to hit the “drum.”
  5. Wrap your other fingers loosely around the stick.
  6. Lightly tap your right leg with the stick by pivoting your wrist as if you’re knocking on a door.
  7. Lay down your right stick and repeat steps 2-6, switching right and left so that you end up holding the stick in your left hand.
  8. Pick up both sticks and alternate tapping the sticks on your legs: right-left-right-left. Don’t hold the sticks too tightly. Keep your wrist relaxed as it pivots. Move your arms slightly up and down as you take each stroke.

This method of holding the drumsticks is called “matched grip” because the way the sticks are held in both hands is “matched.”  Another common way to hold sticks is called “traditional grip” where the palm of your left hand is facing up.  Matched grip is better for playing rock music but be aware that there are different ways to hold drumsticks.

Drumsticks come in all shapes and sizes.  They are made from different kinds of wood and some are even made from other materials like aluminum and acrylic.  You are looking for wooden drum sticks with wood tips in a size that fits your hands best and matches the music that you’ll be playing.  Choose lighter sticks for jazz and low-volume music, and heavier sticks for rock and high-volume music.  Drumsticks are sized with a number and a letter, like 5A, 7A or 2B.  The number corresponds to the length of the stick: the smaller the number, the longer the stick.  The letter corresponds to the diameter or thickness of the stick: the further along the alphabet the thicker the stick, so “B” is thicker than “A”.

Now you’re ready to head to the local drum shop or music store.  After you’ve had a chance to look around and chat with the sales people, you’re ready to pick “the perfect pair.” Most well-known companies (like Vic Firth, Pro-Mark, Regal and Vater) manufacture sticks that are not warped and have the same tone (a “matched pair”).  However, it’s a good idea to test the pair before you buy them.  Follow the instructions below to find the size and matched pair of sticks that are right for you:

  1. Find the size of drumstick that feels best in your hands.  Try holding sizes 5A, 7A, 5B and 2B (or a size called “Rock”).  Try other sizes if available.  Pick the size that feels comfortable in your hands.
  2. Make sure that the sticks are straight and not warped.  Find a glass counter (every music store has one) and roll each drumstick on the counter.  Each stick should roll easily and the tip should not “wobble” as it rolls.  Keep rolling sticks until you find two that are straight.
  3. Test the “tone” of each drumstick and find a matched pair.  Pick up the sticks and tap them on the glass counter.  Each stick should have the same pitch and sound similar.   Keep tapping different sticks on the counter until you find a matched pair.  Don’t forget to re-test for straightness.
  4. Buy the sticks!

Congratulations!  You now know how to buy and hold drumsticks.  Once you’ve bought “the perfect pair”, practice holding them and tapping them on your legs, telephone book or other non-destructible surface.  Hold and tap the drumsticks as much as possible, even when you’re watching television or listening to music.  Get to know how they feel so you’ll be ready to play a song in the next lesson.