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Matched grip (also known as parallel grip) is a method of holding drum sticks and mallets to play percussion instruments. In the matched grip each hand holds its stick in the same way, whereas in the traditional grip, each hand holds the stick differently. Almost all commonly used matched grips are overhand grips. Specific forms of the grip are French grip, German grip, and American grip.
The matched grip is performed by gripping the drum sticks with one's index finger and middle finger curling around the bottom of the stick and the thumb on the top. This allows the stick to move freely and bounce after striking a percussion instrument.
In French grip, the palms of the hands face directly toward each other and the stick is moved primarily with the fingers rather than the wrist as in German grip. This allows a greater degree of finesse, which is why many timpanists prefer French grip. Because this grip uses the smaller and faster finger muscles, this grip is used by single-stroke champions. It also comes in handy for playing fast tempo swing or jazz for the ride cymbal. For louder strokes, the wrist rotates much in the same way as when hammering a nail.
In German grip, the palms of the hands are parallel to the drumhead or other playing surface, and the stick is moved primarily with the wrist. German grip provides a large amount of power, but sacrifices the finesse provided by the use of the fingers as in French grip. It is used when power is the primary concern, such as when playing a bass drum. This is also the primary grip for the Moeller method.
American grip is a hybrid of the French grip and German grip. The palms of the hands typically are at about a 45-degree angle, and both the fingers and wrist are used to propel the stick. This grip is considered a general-purpose grip by percussionists because it combines the power of German grip with the finesse of French grip. Instruments it is used to play include snare drums and xylophones.
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