This article will discuss why drummers wear gloves and the history of glove and drum style.
There’s a great documentary on YouTube called “Drumming Around The World” with Paul Niehaus. It’s a fantastic view into the daily lives of professional musicians.
Some interviews have never been transcribed, so this post is the first to capture this invaluable information.
Drumming around the world
Performing for a worldwide audience must be nerve-racking, and this documentary captures the feeling.
Yet, what we see in this video is a group of professional musicians (some of whom have traveled the world) not even having a problem putting on their gloves.
Each musician has an arsenal of different glove styles, which they have learned over time and preferred.
Is this common?
Is there some drumming style that demands you wear gloves? The answer is yes.
Gloves are popular for two reasons: first, to reduce stress on fingers, second, to reduce injuries.
On average, most drummers who play gigs also play a little at home.
Some drummers are very eager to perform in front of audiences, and some are not. Unfortunately, many do not play outside of their comfort zone, so they only practice in front of a mirror in their garage.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to perform outside of your comfort zone, this can be a great opportunity to do so.
For that reason, some drummers often won’t wear gloves. Of course, they’re going to wear them in the studio or on stage, but during their “off” hours, they’ll wear “bastard” gloves.
An estimated two-thirds of drummers wear bastard gloves. This is because they wear gloves for performance, not as a tool for keeping their fingers from getting cut or bruised.
The most common brand of bastard gloves is Polar. Most drummers love the felt material.
They feel like a regular pair of gloves, but with more padding. It’s a great way to “work it out” and have pads to support your fingers when you need them.
After years of wearing bastard gloves, I had a “learning experience” as an artist, common with many of us. My drummer friend was borrowing my gloves, which means that I gave them a spin.
And I noticed that I didn’t play as well.
He had more padding and was more flexible. It seemed like I had more power, and the felt material allowed my fingers to move freely, producing a more natural feel.
I told him I’d give him it ago, and he seemed to like the feeling of my gloves.
The point of this post is not to criticize the manufacturers of the Polar “bastard” gloves. It’s just an example of where people get off on bastard-glove or less-padded-glove-style playing.
If it’s what you’re used to, it’s what you’re used to.
Get the right pair of gloves
Your choice of gloves will depend on your own personal style. Most drummers opt for fingerless gloves.
They slip on over the top of your fingerless gloves or thin gloves.
When it is cold outside, you are more likely to need heavy-duty winter gloves. Stay away from plastic gloves or t-shirts, though.
Plastic strips in your gloves are too thin, and you might get a cut on your fingers. You also might get a case of frostbite.
Plastic can expand when it gets cold, and your hand might burst into flames. Heavy-duty gloves will protect you from everything from hypothermia to drowning.
Gloves for bassists
For guitar players, you might consider a pair of latex gloves.
They offer some protection from finger cuts.
You can use them for playing drumset, but you can take them off when you have to play a bass line.
If you want to keep the cold air out, you can get fingerless gloves with openings on the fingers. This is called fingerless glove functionality, and you will find these at craft stores and online.
You can get a pair of gloves that have slots for your fingers, but they might take some getting used to. Fingerless gloves with openings on the fingers will allow air to get in your fingers, but it can get a little cold when your fingers are resting in the air.
You might want to stick with fingerless gloves that are fingerless on both sides of your hand.
For the money, it’s hard to beat the lifetime of protection that a pair of gloves offers you. You might think you will cut your fingers on sticks and sticks on your hand, but that’s why you have gloves.
Purchase a pair of gloves that can take a beating from a drummer and keep your fingers protected the whole time.
But what do you do?
The two keys to this video are a) what to wear and b) when to take your gloves off. If you want to “work it out,” you might feel like a little more padding is helpful. After all, the more you play with a pair of cheap dollar-store gloves, the more likely you are to get some nasty cuts on your fingertips.
So, for most people, the best time to put on gloves is during warm-ups. Why?
Because we’re getting our grips ready so that we don’t slip in the performance. A better way to say this is: if you want to feel more comfortable, put your gloves on and put your sticks away.
If you want to use your hands and pad your fingertips, I suggest you put them on once you’re ready to play. This “practice a song in the pit” time allows you to warm up your arms, hands, and fingers.