6 Ways to Prevent Blisters When Drumming

Blisters can be a real hindrance for drummers. To prevent blisters, you should loosen your grip, mind your force, use drum gloves, tape, and grips, sandpaper on drumsticks, or harden the skin. Thankfully, making some changes to your technique can completely stop blisters from reoccurring!

Long sessions with tight drumstick gripping and heavy drumming can make blisters much more likely to form. However, drummers with great technique and experience usually don’t get blisters. You should not think of blisters as a necessary evil of playing drums.

If you are currently experiencing pain from a blister, then please read the following medical advice on how to deal with it. If you see signs of infection, visit your doctor immediately.

Preventing Blisters When Drumming At a Glance

  • Loosen your grip on the drumsticks to prevent blisters and improve your drumming.
  • Be mindful of your playing force; excessive force and tight gripping can lead to blisters.
  • Drum gloves should be a last resort if you can’t loosen your grip due to sweaty hands or nerves.
  • Consider drumstick tape and grips to maintain a firm yet not too tight grip.
  • Sandpaper can make drumsticks less slippery, reducing the risk of blisters.
  • Allowing your skin to moderately harden may be necessary for beginners.
  • Prioritize proper technique to prevent blisters and more severe drumming-related injuries.

1. Loosen Your Grip

Having a tight grip is by far the most likely reason you’re getting blisters.

When drumming, you should be working with your drumsticks and not against them. Work on the natural rebound of your sticks and loosen up your grip a little.

Having a looser drum grip will not only stop blisters from occurring but also make you a better drummer! It will also help prevent a raft of other drumming-related injuries.

Examine your current grip: Get out a drum or practice pad and strike it relatively hard with your drumstick. If you don’t allow the stick to bounce back up naturally, then you are forcing your hands and arms to absorb the shock.

If possible, seek the advice of a local drum instructor to solve this issue.

2. Think About Your Playing Force

Blisters can occur from excessive force and tight gripping. If you’re a hard hitter on the drum set, then think how lowering your strike force might affect or even improve your playing.

Perhaps playing a bit less forcefully might even improve your speed and technique a bit. The drums may already be loud enough through microphones if you are playing in a live situation.

So, lowering the intensity with which you play can only benefit you positively, as well as prevent blisters from occurring.

3. Consider Drum Gloves

If you are a hard hitter or can’t loosen your grip due to sweaty hands, nerves, or any other reason, then check out our guide on drum gloves.

They are not for everyone, but if blisters are preventing you from your performance and enjoyment of drums, then they are a good option.

Drum gloves should not be your first option when trying to prevent blisters. It’s worth spending a few weeks or months loosening your sticking technique first.

4. Drumstick Tape and Grips

Your grip will naturally tighten if you don’t have a firm grip on the sticks. You can buy drumstick tape and grips for this very purpose. They generally cost just a few dollars, and you can easily add them to your current drumsticks.

Using this method can help you avoid dropping your sticks in live and sweaty performances. They also let you have a looser grip, reducing the risk of various drumming injuries in your hands and arms, such as blisters.

5. Use Sandpaper on Your Drumsticks

Sand down a bit of the grip area of your drumstick using some sandpaper. Although this may appear counter-intuitive, making the drumstick coarser might reduce its slipperiness, allowing you to loosen your grip.

As mentioned before, a looser grip reduces the chance of injuries occurring. Don’t make it too coarse, though, as that might end up adding friction that will, in turn, cause blisters!

6. Let Your Skin Harden (In Moderation)

I’m going to start by saying that you should not need heavily calloused hands to play drums!

However, if you are just starting to play drums, you may need to let your skin harden moderately to the point where it can handle drumming.

If you have some bad blisters, then take a few days off from drumming, or try some exercises to practice drumming without drums! When you return to the drum set, you’ll be ready!

If you’ve been playing for months and are still getting blisters, then skip this point!

Why Do You Get Blisters When Drumming?

While it is never as dramatic as in the bleeding Whiplash scene, blisters are common issues for drummers. There are several reasons behind it, but all are actually related. You can get rid of the pain by taking some of the aforementioned preventive measures.

  • Gripping too tight: Applying excessive pressure to your drumsticks with a tight grip elevates the stress on your palms, leading to greater energy absorption during rebound. This heightened strain significantly raises the likelihood of developing blisters while playing the drums.
  • Hitting too hard: Hard-hitting habits can lead to blisters as it puts too much stress on palms. Also, hitting hard often means a tighter grip, leading to blisters.
  • Long drumming sessions: Playing drums for an extended period of time will result in sore shoulder and forearm muscles as well as possible blisters.

Conclusion

Blisters can be a real pain for drummers, but some simple steps can stop them from reoccurring for good.

Your technique should always be your number one priority when playing drums. Holding your drumsticks tightly might start with blisters but could later develop into tendinitis and other drumming-related injuries.

Other methods to prevent blisters from occurring are to use drum gloves, tape, and grips, sandpaper on drumsticks, or harden the skin. I hope this article sheds some light on the matter of blisters.

Mike O'Connor
Mike O'Connor

I've been playing drums for over 18 years. I work as both a session drummer and a drum teacher, and I love to share my knowledge and tips on this site. You can also find me on the Electronic Drum Advisor YouTube channel.

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