German grip in drumming was one of the first grips ever invented alongside traditional grip.
It is used more in the past than nowadays because many drummers find American grip, which is also a matched grip, to be more useful.
We assume it’s because of the motion. In german, grip motion is from outwards to inwards, while in american grip, it’s up and down motion.
However, there are still drummers who use this grip because they believe it makes them sound unique.
Let’s dive deeper into the advantages and disadvantages of the german grip and see if you should use this grip.
How do you hold a German grip?
The fulcrum or the balance point can be between your thumb and index finger or between a middle finger and a thumb leaving an index finger free.
You decide, but we suggest the second method because this way stick has more space to move in hand.
So, take the sticks and put them in your hand with palms facing down. Make sure the stick is in line with your fingers. Stick should be pointed to the center of the snare drum at a 4 o’clock angle.
Now use the outwards/inwards motion to hit a drum. Stick shout be lean on the cheekbones.
Remember, this is more a wrist tech than a finger technique, and before you include fingers, practise the wrist motion.
Do not squeeze the stick; keep it loose while moving only the wrist.
How to play german grip?
This grip uses a wrist, and not a whole arm like it is the case in a Moeller method, but we’ll come to that later.
Hold the stick relaxed and let it bounce while not adding fingers if you don’t need to. Start slowly by playing one hand at a time, just taping the practise pad or a snare drum, and then move on with bigger strokes.
Avoid holding the sticks tightly. This is a bad habit that will only bring wrist pain. Train your muscle memory always to hold a stick loosely.
After you get comfortable, start practising with both hands. Single stroke RLRL at 50 BPM tempo is great to start. Practise using different rolls and sticking will get you more comfortable using this grip.
The most important thing is to get used to the bounce of the wrist while not adding extra weight with fingers.
Ok, it’s time to get more advanced and include the Moeller motion.
This is a whipping motion that allows you to relax by getting several strokes out from only one movement.
One of the guys known for the Moeller technique was the late Jim Chapin who used this technique not relying on the rebound but moving the stick in hand.
On the other hand, Dave Weckl mentions he relies on the rebound while using this technique.
To make things clear, we suggest you check out this excellent video of Jojo Mayer, where he talks about the Moeller method and different approaches.
German grip vs traditional grip
The eternal dilemma. The question only you can find the answer to. For most of the drummers in the old days, it was a matter of surroundings. If all their friends played traditional, they would learn to play like that.
If they are a left-handed drummer who grew up surrounded by right-handed drummers, they would learn to play by crossing the sticks and leading with the right hand.
Only later, left-handed drummers started playing open.
Nowadays, drummers usually choose the grip according to their music needs. So, for example, if the music they are playing demands subtle ghost notes and not big loud rim shots, they go for traditional grip.
But, if the rimshots and power is what they need, they mainly go for the german or american grip.
German grip vs french grip
Two different concepts and two different needs behind each grip.
German grip uses more of a wrist, while french is all about fingers.
With german, you get power and wrist control, while with french, you get speed and finger control.
In german grip, the fulcrum is between the thumb and an index finger or a thumb and a middle finger.
In french grip, the fulcrum is always between a thumb and an index finger with the thumb facing up.
It’s hard to compare these two because they are different, but it’s important to emphasize when to use french and when german.
Use german is slow tempos when you need wrist control, fingers are not that useful in slow tempos because it is hard to use their full potential in german grip.
On the other hand, french grip is the home of finger control. Use this grip in fast tempos for great control. If you don’t switch to french in fast tempos, all the burden will fall on the wrist, and you will risk an injury.
German grip vs American grip
It is not necessary to develop and master both grips since they are very similar. Both grips are matched, and if that is your cup of tea, choose one and stick to it.
However, it’s not a bad idea to get familiar with both; maybe the work on one grip will influence the technique of the other.
Matched or many drummers use overhand grips, but more and more find american grip more practical and let us tell you why.
With an american grip, the energy goes from your arm straight to the stick and then to a drum. While with a german grip, power needs to go from the wrist because the bottom of the stick is peeking from the side.
This way, you have a lot less energy available.
The second reason might be that in american grip sticks are in the center of the palm, while in german, they are not.
Think of the american grip as an upgraded version of the german grip.