Drumsticks are essential for every drummer who takes their drumming seriously, and it isn’t apparent which drumstick should you pick.
Because of that, today we will explain how to choose the right drumsticks and never get confused again when deciding to buy them.
Nowadays, there are a lot of drumsticks on the music store’s rack, and the options are overwhelming. It doesn’t matter whether you are new to drumming or a professional. You are always going to face problems when picking the right drumsticks.
In addition, you don’t have time to try every single one of them, so you need a consistent number of factors upon which you decide to buy them or not.
Before we go into the exact steps of choosing the right drumsticks, we will quickly go over different types of drumsticks.
What Are The Types Of Drum Sticks
Finding the right drumstick is just as important as picking the suitable drum set. You need a well-balanced set of sticks that will make you feel comfortable and help produce the best sound possible. Different things like numbers, letters, and tip shapes play a significant role, and we will review them first.
Drumstick’s tip shape
There are five types of tips: teardrop, round/ball, oval, barrel, and acorn. Each of those tips produces a different sound.
Also, they all have a different feel, especially when it comes to playing cymbals. Oval tips are great for providing the most extensive spectrum of sound.
Teardrops are excellent for warm and focused low tones. However, if you are a drummer seeking a clean and bright sound, you must opt for round tips.
Acorn tips are the best for producing rich sound, and barrel tips are excellent for punchy and loud sound. When you choose the right type, you need to consider the kind of music you play.
Teardrops are great for playing with an acoustic ensemble, and barrel-style are great if you need to be heard over a few amps. If you are a beginner and don’t know which tips will best suit your need, maybe you should speak with someone professional or a music teacher.
Numbers and Letters
The letters represent styles of music, and numbers are directly related to the stick’s diameter.
The larger the diameter, the lower the number. For example, 7A sticks are smaller(in circumference) compared to the 5A sticks. However, companies today adopted individual systems for naming numbering sticks.
This means that 7A of one brand may differ from 7A of another. That is why professionals recommend trying different sizes or shapes every time.
Here are some common drumsticks:
2B – High thickness, heavier weight
5A – Medium thickness, lighter weight
Extreme 5A – Medium thickness, lighter weight, extra length
5B – Medium thickness, heavier weight
7AN – Low thickness, lighter weight, nylon tip
7B – Low thickness, medium weight
Steps For Choosing The Right Drumsticks
Follow the next steps to choose the right drumsticks.
Step 1 – Wood Type
The first step in choosing the right drumsticks is to select the suitable wood. Drumsticks are generally made of maple, Japanese white oak, or hickory.
Recently, laminated birch has regained its popularity. However, each one of these has a slightly different feel.
The distinct feeling is achieved depending on how the stick transmits or absorbs vibration and how much it flexes. So now let’s review all wood types and see which one is the best for you:
- Hickory is a widespread well-rounded and well-rounded wood that is used in drumsticks. In addition, it is highly regarded for its strength, flexibility, and resistance to impact.
- The weight of maple is lower than hickory, which allows for a greater diameter with less weight. It is more flexible and soft than maple. It adversely affects the durability of sticks. Maple is more mellow and clear on cymbals and drums.
- Oak is heavy and dense and transmits more vibrations. It is generally more robust, but it will break without warning. The heavier weight of drums gives them an even, deeper sound. It also produces a large yet brash sound of cymbals.
- Laminated birch is made of top-quality Birch plywood. The sticks are cumbersome and long-lasting. They create an intense sound of cymbals and drums.
- There are smaller businesses that specialize in exotic woods. Vic Firth is currently making carbon fiber sticks. Companies like Ahead create sticks from nylon.
Step 2 – Material
The second step is to pick a suitable material. Generally speaking, tips come in wood, nylon, or delrin. Wood tips are known for having a darker contact sound and less articulate sound on cymbals. Certain companies mainly use Delrin because it is supposedly more durable. Lastly, nylon tips have a brighter sound on cymbals.
Step 3 – Shape
As we mentioned, tips come in different shapes, producing different sounds. The most common tip shapes are barrel, ball, acorn, and oval. In addition, each shape comes in multiple sizes. Bigger create deeper sounds while smaller create more articulate sounds. Here is a brief overview of all common shapes:
- Barrel tips have a wide smooth contact area. This results in a dark but booming contact sound.
- The Acorn tips feature the most extensive contact surface. This helps to reduce the sound produced by contact considerably, resulting in a rich dark cymbal sound.
- Ball tips have a tiny contact area, which results in the most bright sound of contact.
- Oval tips lie between the barrel and ball tips.
Step 4 – Thickness
The fourth step is to choose the thickness. This matters because the thickness also changes the sound. Generally speaking, there are two ways to know the thickness of a stick. The first is to see a model number, and the second is to understand the diameter of the stick.
Regarding the first one, higher numbers represent thinner sticks. For example, 7A is thinner than 5A. However, this system is unreliable because companies tend to have individual parameters. The second way to know the thickness is to find the diameter of the stick by finding a three-digit decimal. Here are some general guidelines to follow when choosing the thickness of the stick:
- 7As are lighter and thinner. They sound better on cymbals and drums. In addition, they are great for less volume play.
- 5As are slightly thicker than the 7As. They are thought of as being the more general and flexible stick.
- 5Bs are heavier, more powerful drumsticks commonly employed by metal and rock drummers due to their weight.
- There are many different designs, and each firm has its unique idiosyncrasies. For instance, Promark has a thinner 5A than many. Vic Firth’s 7A has a shorter length than many, and their 8D is closer to all 7A.
Step 5 – Varnish or lacquer coating on the drumsticks
- Keep the stick in your hands as you would during playing. Allow it to slide between your fingers.
- Different manufacturers employ different coatings to affect the grip. Vic Firth favors a thin lacquer, whereas Regal Tip favors a heavy lacquer that makes their sticks slippery and more resistant to moisture and skin oils. Promark’s unique finish turns tacky as your hands warm it up. Promark also has a variety of sticks that are finished by sanding. Zildjian, as well as Vic Firth, also offers many sticks that have a rubber coating. Provide the butt end on the stick.
- The only way to find out what interests you is to try playing with sticks.
Step 6 – Choose the brand
The market has to offer many brands of good drumsticks, but not all are the same. Good advice is to consider your favorite artist’s preference in sticks when buying ones.
Here are some of the top brands when it comes to choosing the right drumsticks and their endorsements:
- Ahead (Lars Ulrich, Rick Allen) – Ahead is the most popular choice of metal drummers because of their durability and the size of the sticks. Many complain that their sticks hurt their hands.
- ProMark (Joey Jordison, Mike Portnoy, Glenn Kotche, Benny Greb) – Promark doesn’t have a lot of variety in tips but has several excellent options for finishing.
- Vater (Chad Smith and David Silvera) – Vater is an item similar to Vic Firths but with different shapes.
- Vic Firth (John Dolmayan, Vinnie Paul, Mark Guilian) – Vic Firth offers probably the most extensive range of sticks. They prefer a light lacquer finish, and many stick designs are painted.
- Zildjian (Dave Grohl, Travis Barker)
- Los Cabos Drumsticks (Mike Sleath, David McGraw, Cameron Losch)
Step 7 – Experiment
There is no better way to choose the right drumsticks than to try them out and experiment. This is a smart thing to do when choosing a new kind of drumstick or size or brand you never used before.
Practice with them and see if they suit you. Try them on a practice pad until you get a feel for their springiness, balance, and weight.
When choosing the right drumsticks, you must consider everything from material, shape, tip, numbers, and letters.
Also, your style is one of the deciding factors in choosing the right drumstick. Thickness and brand are also important factors.
In addition, the most crucial advice is to take the drumstick and try them gently on a practice pad and see if they suit you.