Learn How to Use Cross Sticking
Cross sticking is an important skill to make your drumming more dynamic. It is used more often that most drummers think, and should not be overlooked. To get the best rim shot out of your snare, you want to get a clean and crisp hit with your sticks. This is where proper cross sticking comes into play. Cross sticking is usually done on the snare drum, but can be used on all toms if applicable. It is designed to add another voice to your drum set. A lot of you may use your own style of cross sticking, which may get results, but nothing like you could be getting with proper hand technique. It is not a hard concept to learn; however it is very rewarding.
Cross sticking is used in all sorts of drum beats, styles and patterns. Latin and Afro-Cuban music use this technique a lot with their style of music. This is also used to bring down dynamics of a song; usually when a song hits a quieter bridge or soft spot. The trick here is using the right part of the stick to hit the rim. You may be used to just placing your stick on the snare, and tapping the rim with your stick tip; this is a big no no. For starters, the best sound comes from the thick part of your stick. So, in order to achieve this you will want to turn your stick around, and use the other end of your stick to strike the rim.
During a song you may not have time to switch, in this case do not worry about switching. Although it is good to practice switching back and forth so you can get the best sound during any song.
Cross Sticking Position
Now for the position of your stick. The tip of your stick should rest on your snare drum around 2 inches from the rim. Make sure you do not place the stick tip too close to the middle of the drum, or too close to the rim. This will cause an uneven sound on the stick and a poor rasp sound from your snare. Depending on the size of your stick, you want to have around 2-4 inches of stick hanging off the rim. Make sure the angle of the stick and the drum head are not too low – resulting in the edge of the stick resting on the snare itself. The only part of the stick you want resting on the drum is the tip.
Hand Position For Cross Sticking
Now its time to place your hand on the stick. Remember that the sound you are getting from this technique is from the stick, rim, and the snare drum. This being said, you do not want to cover too much of any of these with your hand or you will limit the sustain and sound of the stroke. Place your hand on the end of the stick close to where it makes contact with the snare. Do not rest your whole palm on the sick. Instead, place your finger tips on there, and grip the stick gently. Try not to have any part of your hand on the drum skin.
The Cross Sticking Motion
Once you have the right positions of your hand and stick, its time to actually put this technique into motion. It’s as simple as lifting your stick, and hammering it down on the rim. Do not lift the stick tip from the snare skin, try and pretend the stick is stuck to the snare, using that as the pivot point for your stick. Lift the butt end of your stick 4-8 inches from your snare, depending on the volume of the sound you want. There will be no bounce or any follow through with this stroke. When you hit the rim, do not be in any rush to pull your stick away, let the sound sustain. This is the motion of cross sticking.
Cross sticking looks a little different on paper. You will notice that the drum notation for it is not the same as a regular note. Here is an example of what cross sticking notation looks like.
Once you got this down, try adding this method into a beat. Try and work with your dynamics so you can hear the rim clearly with the rest of your kit.
By: Dave Atkinson
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