The Mainieri Grip

7 Sep

After his studies with Lem Leach in the late 1940’s, the American vibraphonist Mike Mainieri (1938 -) started to make modifications to the Leach grip. These included holding the mallets nearer to the heads and gripping the inner mallet with the outer joint or the usual middle phalanx of the index finger instead of the outer phalanx. Holding the mallets nearer to the heads meant that the mallet shafts crossed each other under the wrist at many an interval larger than a second. With the new grip position and features he could start to manipulate the inner mallet lengtwise with thumb and index finger in order to reach the accidentals of the instrument without twisting his hand or arm. This is, according to Mainieri, a great advantage when it comes to playing chromatic passages.

Mainieri has plans on releasing an instructional video about his grip and its playing technique but they seem not to have materialized yet. There are very few percussionists using this grip and the inventor himself is the only famous example as far as I know. At the following address is a video with Mainieri in concert using his grip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Apk_yQ_-2WI. In the images below the “diatonic position” of the Mainieri grip is demonstrated by my right hand.

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