The ten double-mallet grips

1 Aug

Just like the ten commandments in the Bible there are ten double-mallet grips. However, you do not have to apply them all, especially not at the same time. It is, though, as a marimba or vibraphone beginner, good to learn at least some of them before deciding on one or maybe a few. I list them here with the oldest grip first:

  1. The Traditional grip (circa 1910?)
  2. The Musser grip (circa 1925?)
  3. The Leach grip (circa 1940?)
  4. The Mainieri grip (circa 1950)
  5. The Burton grip (1960)
  6. The Gordy grip (circa 1962)
  7. The Stevens grip (circa 1975)
  8. The Extended cross-grip or Rosauro grip (circa 1983)
  9. The Fulcrum grip or Saindon grip (2006?)
  10. The Johansson grip (2010)

Numbers 1, 5, 6, 8, 9 and 10 are cross-grips. Number 4 is both a cross-grip and a parallel grip. Numbers 2, 3 and 7 are parallel grips.

In my following posts I shall deal with each and every of the mentioned grips and include illustrations of me demonstrating them.

10 Responses to “The ten double-mallet grips”

  1. Gordon Stout 2012-08-02 at 22:09 #

    I was taught this technique by my first teacher, James Salmon at the University of Michigan. He was a Musser grip player, and played in the Marimba Symphony International under Musser’s direction. He taught me the “Gordy grip” as a trainer for the Musser grip, because my hands were too small when I started for Musser grip. He decided at some point to leave me with the technique and not switch me to Musser grip. I started four mallets with the Gordy grip in the early 1960’s. I don’t remember the exact year.

    • doublemalletgrips 2012-08-02 at 23:46 #

      Many thanks, Gordon, for your informative and interesting comment! The name Gordy, where does it come from? Was James Salmon the inventor of the grip? Would you consider the grip Tony Miceli is using to be the Gordy grip?

      • Gordon Stout 2012-08-03 at 00:19 #

        Gordy is a nickname that some people call me. I guess that some of my students first started referring to my technique in that way. I don’t know if Mr. salmon invented it, but can only assume that he did. I have not seen Tony play, so don’t know what grip he uses. I do have a picture of Victor Feldman, vibist, and he is holding the sticks in this same way. I never met him, however, and don’t know who his teacher(s) was.

  2. tonymiceli 2012-08-04 at 17:48 #

    i play the same grip as gordon. i learned it because i went to a gary burton concert and i was stoned and drinking. really awful now, but i was young and just moved to the city and went wild.

    anyway, i saw gary play and for some weird reason i swore he was using that grip. i realized when i saw him play later that year that it was my bad. he was using one finger in the middle, i was just too high to notice. consider that an anti drug message!

    anyway those days are long behind me now, and it’s stupid that i spent so much money on drugs back then, but i save my money now and rarely rarely rarely ever even drink. the good thing is i learned a GREAT grip. people started calling it the miceli stoned grip over the years.

    i found out gordon plays with that grip which blew me away, cause i did think it was my invention! ha ha!! then a buddy sent me a picture of victor feldman. and there was victor using the same grip in the photo. so maybe he’s the first cat to use it?

    to me it’s my favorite grip. but i do tell my students that my five fav vibe players all use different grips, so use what you want. that being said, i think the feldman/stout/miceli stoned grip is best IMHO and the burton grip is equal and most people would say it’s number one. hmmm, it was invented by the greatest vibe player in the world (gary burton), so it better work huh?. i think the stevens grip is not good for playing vibes AGAIN IMHO. i’ve argued this over and over with players, so i know all the arguments. i just think it’s not powerful enough.

    just shooting off a bunch of thoughts here, just my opinions. not worth much.

    • doublemalletgrips 2012-08-04 at 19:49 #

      Thanks a lot, Tony, for your comment!

      i was just too high to notice. consider that an anti drug message!

      Yes, I do. Thank you! I grew up in the temperance movement and am still a total abstainer myself so I really appreciate your telling your story.

      there was victor using the same grip in the photo. so maybe he’s the first cat to use it?

      Yes, this is interesting. Who was first, James Salmon or Victor Feldman? What grip did Victor start out with? He probably started playing vibraphone in the late 1940’s after becoming famous as a child prodigy on drums (“Kid Krupa”). Had James Salmon used the grip for a long time before the early 1960’s as an introduction to the Musser grip?

      just shooting off a bunch of thoughts here, just my opinions. not worth much.

      Quite the opposite, Tony. Your comment was great!

      • doublemalletgrips 2012-08-05 at 09:24 #

        At there are two photos of Victor with the Gordy grip. It looks like they are from the late 1960’s or early or middle 1970’s. I wrote to the site owners and asked for permission to publish the two photos here. I also asked them for any further information about Victor’s double-mallet technique.

  3. Muhammad Dansih Bin Yusri 2016-06-09 at 14:55 #

    I actually taught my students a grip that isn’t included here where it is almost like the Stevens grip but instead of only two fingers holding the outer mallets, there were three. It was meant as a progression to reduce the pain felt when initially learning the Stevens grip. I started using it as a misconception when I tried learning it myself through watching others play. It was only when I started playing in front of my instructor when he pointed it out. He said it works tho, as long as I could get the sound I wanted, and it was comfortable.

    • Magnus Johansson 2016-06-09 at 16:02 #

      Thanks for commenting, Muhammad, and informing about yet another grip. Do you have a picture of it?

      • muhammaddanishbinyusri 2018-05-11 at 06:34 #

        I’m sorry for the late reply as I was enlisted into the army. Could I send you the pictures through email?

      • Magnus Johansson 2018-05-11 at 07:28 #

        It’s OK. Yes, please, send the pictures via e-mail.

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