German grip:

Very tight and controlled. Almost pushing the tone out towards the listener as you play. Good for precision in the hands of the inexperienced, very bad for tone quality. This technique should only be used, if ever, during specific solo pieces that require a more stacatto feel.

Italian grip:

Very relaxed. The player almost seems to pull the singing tone out of the head as he plays. There is very little downstroke if any; normally the mallet is just dropped onto the head (while still holding it of course) and only the height from which it falls determines the dynamic. This is an exaggeration, but not by much. This technique is best for ensemble playing.

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