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Which grip would you recommend for someone starting to study the vibraphone ?

There are four possibilities that I have researched:

1) Burton Grip
2) Musser-Stevens Grip
3) Ed Saindon's Fulcrum Grip
4) Ney Rosauro's Extended Cross Grip



tpvibes Fri, 10/28/2011 - 10:55

There is also "Tony's" grip (there are other people who arrived at using that grip independently) -- basically Burton grip with the outer mallet between the middle and ring fingers instead of between the index and middle fingers. Ed's fulcrum grip is another variation on the Burton grip, with the mallets held the same way but different finger action in making the stroke. I'm not familiar with Ney Rosauro's grip.

It's kind of tough to decide which grip is good for you -- all of them will feel awkward when you first try them. It will take quite some time to get good enough with different grips to be able to make a comparison.

On a practical level, my thinking goes like this:

  1. If you have a teacher, or a few vibists you hang out with, use the grip they use.
  2. If you lean towards classical music and a lot of marimba, use Stevens.
  3. If you lean toward jazz and mostly vibes, use Burton.

The thinking behind this is that in the beginning communication will be easier if you conform to the dominant grip of whatever community you'll be part of. As you get better, you might experiment with other grips and chose to change. Or you might not.

Tom P.

tpvibe Sun, 10/30/2011 - 19:53

In reply to by tpvibes

Hello Tom,

Thank you for your thoughts and wisdom.

If you have the time, you may want to check out Ney Rosauro's site - there is a paper explaning his Cross Grip. In the educational video section of Vic Firth, Ney explains his grip quite nicely.

I would be very interested in getting people's views on his grip.


Ted P.

Marie-Noëlle Mon, 10/31/2011 - 04:43

In reply to by tpvibe

Here is the link for Ney's grip:

What amazes me is to see a very high level professional getting to change his grip a few times over a career... and not being the only one. I think it requires a lot of work, some risk and bravery to do the change, especially after years of using one grip... Wow...

Babu Mon, 10/31/2011 - 05:29

In reply to by Marie-Noëlle

Thanks for the link ! :o)
What's interesting in his grip is to maintain the ring finger on the upper mallet, IMHO. Gives a precise control without crisping the hand.

tpvibes Mon, 10/31/2011 - 11:55

In reply to by Marie-Noëlle

Nice concepts -- Ney has clearly put a lot of thought and work into this.

Rey points out something very true -- everyone's hands are different. Big, small, medium, long fingers, short fingers, fat fingers, etc. Finding the grip that works perfectly for you is a long process. Did he say he used Stevens for four years before going back to Burton and then working up his variation?

So I think the basic advice for beginners still holds -- use the grip your teacher uses.

Tom P.

tonymiceli Mon, 10/31/2011 - 15:03

In reply to by tpvibes

tpvibes, i think that's the simplest answer for now. use what your teacher uses. especially if you're just starting out.

I've seen people switch grips in a couple weeks. especially while you're young this can be done a couple times. play around.

tpvibe Mon, 10/31/2011 - 20:44

In reply to by tonymiceli

Thanks for all of the great advice from everyone.
Will keep you posted.

tonymiceli Fri, 10/28/2011 - 15:55

i think it depends on who's teaching you.

if no one is teaching you then burton hands down!!!

As for my grip or rather the grip that i use, there's plenty here to check out.

my argument is still the same. they're all good! my 5 fav vibe players all use different grips!!

ed's got plenty on his adapting of the burton grip. that looks cool to me.

and i think the burton grip is the most tried out and worked out!!

i don't even know what number 4 is!!

and i think the stevens grip is for the marimba, and the best for the vibes.

and finally remember this is just my 2 cents. and it's worth just about that. the player picks whatever is around them, or whatever interests them especially based on players they like. that will help with the inspiration.

however if your teacher uses another grip and he's a good player then you're missing out on his expertise.

that guy theodore milkov blew me away. he used the old fashioned grip and played some of the heaviest stuff on the marimba. what grip is that, the musser? i don't know.

so in the end:

then inspiration