First, about your grip.
When I started I had a teacher who told me that palms down,
action' was the proper way to hold the sticks when playing drum
'matched grip.' This is also called 'timpani grip' as
that is how timpani is played. I have seen many drummers play this way.
Later I was told either palms down or thumbs up were BOTH called
matched grip. They said matched referred to both hands 'matching' their
movement. As opposed
to so-called 'traditional grip where one hand holds the
stick between the fingers, palm facing up, stick is at a right angle
to the arm, while the other hand holds it like when playing matched.
In this grip, the hands do not
both match each other. Although this is called traditional grip, in fact
it is the newer method. It was invented to play a marching snare, when
slung around your neck with a strap, that caused the drum to tilt, and
this grip provided a method to hit the angled drum. it also seems to
me to be related to how a certain African drum carried around the neck
Anyway, I play many variations of matched grip. Your grip affects your
For example - I do 2 (maybe
3) slightly different method for hitting doubles based on grip.
One style after first hit, make the
stick bounce against middle to pinky fingers with rebound
of the first hit, snapping the stick back downthis is a more finger-based
grip wrist based grip.
2nd style I'm holding the stick a little
tighter (NOT TIGHT - just tighter than usual grip),
entire grip (although mostly my index finger curled around stick seems
to do the work) fights
against the first bounce to force stick back down. This is a more
wrist based grip than fingers
thumbs to the side.
Now, when I am playing more thumbs up, I don't hold stick too tight,
but I don't let it rebound. The
grip pushes it back down for a 2nd hit. This is really like method 2,
but my grip is thumbs up
instead of thumbs side.
I also mix the style- depending on my grip at the moment, and what I'm
playing. You can never have too many ways to play a stick...!
Breaking sticks: I have heard there
is a composite stick that plays like wood but is more durable,
but I'd say try changing your technique a bit first. See if you let the
stick rebound first before
you simply find a stronger stick. Often, a change
in stick handling will reduce some breakage.
If you play really hard, sticks will break, but there are things you
can do to reduce it somewhat
like not hitting cymbals at right angles with the stick, and letting
the stick rebound....
I too hit VERY hard, but I notice I
no longer go through heads & sticks like I used to. I once
a metal rim on my snare when using kevlar™ heads! Now I use coated ambassadors
on my snare
and I don't break them. I have to change them when they get old first.
Before I changed heads
because they would rip often going through 2 snare heads a gig!
(I would have the 2nd snare
set up ready to go, and by the end of the gig both snares heads were
shot!) For me, the change
had to do with letting the stick rebound instead of really pushing
it 'through' the head like I used
to do. I started really forcing the stick deep into the head, because
it was louder & seemed to give
a more 'compressed' sound. I think that was due to the stick actually
muffling the head. I have
since found that letting it rebound lets it ring more & can give
you the volume you need/want. If I
need the same muffled sound I use Remo O rings. Letting the stick properly
heads, sticks AND YOUR BODY FROM DAMAGE ! !
Holding the stick too tight also can
make stick break more. And I
can go much faster now. The
stick is back up immediately, instead of really having to lift it back
up. I guess I stop the down
force right before the stick hits now.
[See section on grip] I still use 5Bs usually,
but in the past I would sometimes play the snare stick backwards for
a louder crack. I also learned
that by muffling the drums less, I don't have to hit as hard for cutting
volume. Also, constant rim
shots eat away at the edge.
Also watch how you hit cymbals - hitting them against the edge so that
it cuts into the wood is BAD
for cymbals as well as the sticks.... Glance off them.
Try different brands'
sticks in a similar size, although every company has it's own determination
what a 5b is... I find that if I switch brands, same size, it feels like
a totally different stick and
then I end up getting used to that brand... I just play 5B vic first
or promark - whichever I feel like
at the time. Most of these extras are just marketing hype (it seems to
me) but try everything....
I'm trying to settle on a specific brand but every time I try something
else, I check it out, then another,
and when I'm used to a stick, others feel odd..... I do like a stick
not too stiff - but not too flexible. I've
had the experience that sometimes a slightly lighter stick will seem
to break less often as a really
heavy stick - I think because when I hit with a stick that was too heavy
for my needs, it has too much
momentum & snaps instead of bounces., And not much flexibility -
too rigid.... so try a slightly more
flexible stick - just as an experiment... may not work at all....
Losing plastic tips: If you play
plastic tip sticks, & the tips keep coming off,
try adding glue to the tips before using the sticks - so you don't loose
when it flies off.. Place it where the wood & the tip meet (avoid
getting in on
the area that hits the head) Some brands' tips come off more than others.
A few years ago the brand I was using (I forget which is was...) always
popped offsome were loose right out of the pack - so I added glue
around bass of tip where it meets wood before I played them. I also
pick up lose tips whenever I find them at gigs & such. I also save
sticks that have lost their tips. I glue the tips onto the sticks &
voila ! A
new stick. I usually try to put a tip on that matches the original, as
tips do have slight different sound & feel. Also, the tighter the
tip is on, the
better, so use strong glue.