- Drumstick Buyers Guide
- Top Pick: Vic Firth American Classic
- Premium Choice: CooperGroove Performance
- Great Value: Vater VH5AW Wood Tip
- What are the Different Kinds of Wood for Drumsticks?
- How to Hold Drumsticks?
- What are the Types of Drumsticks?
- What are the Quietest Drumsticks?
- What do the numbers and letters mean on Drumsticks?
- Which is Better; Wood or Synthetic Drumsticks?
Drumstick Buyers Guide
Top Pick: Vic Firth American Classic
Now that we have guided you through the top 10 drumsticks it’s time to take a look at our Top Pick, Premium Choice and Great Value. And our top pick is *drumroll* Vic Firth American Classic! So why have we chosen these sticks over all the others on our list? What makes them the greatest? Well, we believe that they are good for basically any type of drummer. They’re made from hickory which many prefer and they are 5As, a good and versatile size. The price is also reasonable and affordable.
Vic Firth is a good brand that deliver good quality drumsticks, made in the U.S.A and these sticks in particular have wood tips, which makes them the type of sticks that every drummer should have.
Premium Choice: CooperGroove Performance
Let’s take another look at the CooperGroove Performance sticks that we have selected for our Premium Choice. These sticks might not seem like anything special at first glance. They’re 5Bs made from hickory, much like any other sticks. What is it that makes them so special then? It’s the great grip you get from their coating. It’s the best on our list and makes the feel of the sticks extraordinary satisfying.
You will not have to worry about dropping your sticks anymore and they will stay in your hands as you want them to without sliding around. This means that they reduce the tension in your hands and you can just focus on your playing. This is especially good for kids, beginners or people with arthritis or other pain in their hands.
The coating also prevents your hands from sweating, so that will not be a problem anymore, which will be a great relief if you have problems with hand sweat.
Unlike some other coated sticks these are very high quality and the coating doesn’t rub off, so you’ll be able to use them for a long time.
Great Value: Vater VH5AW Wood Tip
Perhaps you found this list in search of the best bargain possible? These would be the sticks for you then! They are 5As made from hickory, so they are durable and a good all-round size with wood tips. They are heavier towards the tips which helps you play faster and they have a really nice feel to them.
The sticks are available in Sugar Maple, their Nude Series, Eternal Black and Color Wrap.
There is nothing that excites us as much as a good bargain and we have certainly found one in these sticks!
We’re hoping that this list has helped you to find a few potential drumsticks that could help you forward in your playing. We would recommend that you select maybe three or four pairs of sticks that you like especially much and then look them up on YouTube so that you can hear what the sticks sound like too, after all, sound is the most important thing when it comes to music.
If you’re not quite sure what sticks to go for we would suggest that you go about your search as you would with a musical instrument, by trying the sticks out. Perhaps you have a friend that have a few pairs of drumsticks or a music shop nearby that could help you find exactly what you’re looking for.
Different sticks have a different feel to them and even though they might seem perfect on paper and they sound good you should strive to find sticks that makes it a pleasure to play and stay inspired in your music making.
But is it really that important to get the right sticks? Aren’t we exaggerating? Perhaps you just want to buy any sticks so that you can get started with your drumming? It’s understandable that some drummers might feel this way since this kind of thinking does work for other things in life. For example, if you start exercising you don’t have to wear fancy workout clothes, you can still train in an efficient way.
Unfortunately this is not the case with drumsticks. The sticks you use can unlike workout clothes either make it easier or harder for you to play, and especially beginners actually benefit from having the right sticks since they don’t have the skills to try to compensate for inadequate sticks.
Having the right drumsticks will allow you to move forward as quickly and as smoothly as possible, which of course is a goal every single drummer has in common.
What are the Different Kinds of Wood for Drumsticks?
Now we will take a look at what kinds of wood drumsticks are made from and how they affect the sound, feel and weight of the sticks. You will find that it’s important to be aware of the different types of wood and their qualities.
Which wood is used most frequently for sticks? The most commonly used wood is without a doubt hickory. It’s a type of wood that grows slowly and becomes dense and pretty heavy. This means that it makes the sticks very durable and not likely to break or get worn out easily. Hickory is the most versatile out of the different woods used for drumsticks and most drummers use them for all different kinds of music.
Sometimes you might also hear of hornbeam sticks. Hornbeam is used in Europe since hickory doesn’t grow there. Hornbeam sticks has similar qualities to hickory sticks.
Another wood often used for sticks is maple. Maple grows faster and that means that it’s not as dense and heavy as hickory, but light and a little more bendy, so to speak. It’s best suited for music that doesn’t require a too violent playing style. Since it’s so light it makes it easier to play fast with them, and they’re good sticks for beginners trying to get better.
Last but not least, literally speaking, is drumsticks made from oak. They are a little bit more uncommon and we actually don’t even have any oak-sticks on our list but if you’re still interested in them it can be good to know that they are the heaviest and most durable sticks.
There are also sticks that are made from aluminum or plastic, however many drummers feel like those sticks aren’t «the real deal» and don’t really give the same sound as wooden sticks. The good thing about them, though, is that they are practically unbreakable, which can be a good thing for certain genres.
The wood of the sticks is often lacquered to make sure that they are long-lasting and to stabilize the moisture in the wood. There are unlacquered sticks as well which makes them a little bit less slippery, a good thing is you suffer from hand sweat. Unlacquered sticks feel more natural as well, which some people prefer in their sticks. There are also coated sticks that provide a great grip, which can be especially useful for beginners.
How to Hold Drumsticks?
‘Why is this question even asked’, you might think. ‘You just hold the sticks comfortably and play, right?’. We believe that it would be a big mistake to reason like this. Infact it’s always good to practice the right way and get the basics right from the start, otherwise you will encounter problems later on and will struggle to correct your bad habits, so you’ll be grateful later if you do the groundwork now.
We want to emphasize the importance of holding your drumsticks the correct way. Just as with all other musical instruments playing with the right technique is vital in order to become a good musician. The best thing is of course if you’re able to take lessons and have your teacher look closely at what you’re doing so that he or she can correct you if needed.
Many amateur musicians nowadays take great pride in and think it’s best to be autodidact, or self-taught, but the fact is that such musicians often leave much to wish for when it comes to proper technique, which often hinders progress.
It’s always very tempting to skip all the beginner’s steps and throw yourself in the deep end of the pool because you obviously want to play cool, impressive music, but even though it might seem like a slower process to go through all the basic stuff we assure you it’s always worth it. After all, you can’t build a skyscraper without a solid foundation!
Even a seemingly small detail like holding the drumsticks is important to get right. If you don’t hold them right you will not be able to get the right bounce and due to a lack of balance you won’t have as much control over your playing.
So how do you actually hold the sticks then? There are a few different ways depending on what genre you’re playing, but the following is usually a good way to start with:
- Hold your hand out flat with your palm facing up
- Lay the stick in the first joint of your index finger
- Put your thumb opposite the index finger (the whole fingerprint should be against the stick)
- Wrap the rest of your fingers around the stick
- A couple of centimeters of the stick should now be resting against the back of your hand.
- Now turn your hand inwards into a more natural position. The index finger knuckle will be the highest point of your hand.
Hopefully this should be enough instructions to get you started.
If you’re not sure whether you’re holding your sticks right or you would like to try another way of holding them (for example if you’re interested in playing jazz) you can always go on to YouTube and check out tutorials drummers have uploaded.
What are the Types of Drumsticks?
We have taken a look at wooden, traditional drum sticks, but there are quite a few different sorts. Listed below are the most common sticks.
Sticks are the most commonly used drumsticks. They are often made from hickory, since it’s very good at absorbing shock, which is also the very type of wood that baseball bats are made from. Oak and maple sticks are also common as well as synthetic sticks.
Brushes are often used in jazz and other times when a soft accompaniment is needed. They can both sweep over the drum or strike just as any other drumstick.
Mallets are used both for pitched percussion, such as xylophones and marimbas and for cymbals. The ball on the tip can be made of rubber, plastic or be wrapped in cloth or cotton, depending on which instruments you’re playing.
Rods or rutes are several thin drum sticks that are bound together to make one drumstick that is louder than a brush but quieter than a stick. They were originally used for orchestral music but nowadays they are used in all kinds of genres.
What are the Quietest Drumsticks?
Since we now have established that different drumsticks have very different qualities, what are the quietest type?
The quietest type of drumsticks is without a doubt brushes. The sound they provide is soft and quiet, yet expressive. The sticks on our list are all wooden and are much louder, even though some of them can provide you with a softer sound than others.
What do the numbers and letters mean on Drumsticks?
It can feel a little bit daunting for a beginner to choose drumsticks and if you feel uncertain what sticks you should go for you can always ask in your local music shop, however it might be good to know a little bit what the cryptic combinations of numbers and letters mean, especially if you are shopping for drumsticks online.
Let’s start with the numbers on the sticks. They represent the circumference of the stick, meaning that the lower the number, the thicker the stick is. And the thicker and heavier the stick is, the louder it will be.
Let’s go on to the letters. There are three letter, S, B and A.
- S stands for ‘street’ are best suited for marching bands. They are very loud and designed to be heard from a distance when the band is marching.
- B stands for ‘band’ and are often used in rock music. They were first designed to be used in orchestras.
- A are quieter, good for jazz or orchestral music.
This means that the genre decides what sticks you should be using, and it’s always a good idea to have a few different pairs.
Different tip shapes
If you look closely at drumsticks you’ll notice that the tips have different shapes. The shape of the tip can affect the sound in different ways and it’s worth taking into consideration what kind of tone quality you’re looking for. The shape of the tip determines how much of the surface hits the drum and that is what actually makes the difference.
It’s not only the sound that is affected by the tip’s shape, but the feel of the drumstick. It’s therefore possible that you might love one shape and hate another, so it’s really good to try different sticks to make sure which kind you prefer and works for the genres you’re playing. You should also think about what instruments you will be playing with, perhaps you need to make sure you make yourself heard, or maybe you need to show consideration to the other players and not be especially loud.
The different shapes are the following: oval, round or ball, teardrop, barrel and acorn.
- Oval stick tips offer the largest spectrum of sounds for a drummer who knows what he or she is doing. Since it’s oval you can change the angle and therefor the sound. If you play with the very tip you’ll get a bright, clear sound, while if you play further in a larger surface will touch the drum and the sound will get lower and fuller.
- Round or ball offer a very clear tone that is bright, crisp and clean and feels a little sharper. The surface that touches the drum produces a distinct tone. The surface that touch the drum is always the same no matter the angle, which means that the beats will always sound the same.
- Teardrop stick tips give a warmer tone and are good if you want the lower drums to shine.
- Barrel tips are loud and give a rather punchy sound.
- Acorn tips sound very full and give an overtone-full sound that is round and complex.
Which is Better; Wood or Synthetic Drumsticks?
Another important thing to think about when selecting drumsticks is whether they should be wooden or synthetic. Most often the stick is wooden, so we are going to focus on the tip, which can either be made of wood or nylon. It might be easy to draw the conclusion that natural things are always better, but is this true when it comes to drumsticks? Well, not necessarily.
As with most other aspects of the drumsticks everything comes down to what kind of music you will be playing. If you are going to play in a marching band and do lots of rolls, then wood is the way to go since it bounces best against the snare drums. On the other hand, if you are playing on hard percussion such as cymbals or cowbells it will be easier to get a good result with a nylon tip. Nylon tips are also more durable, if you have a good pair that is, otherwise they might fall off and that could harm your drums.
Something to also take into consideration is when the music was composed. Nylon tips were invented in the 1950’s and if the music was written before that point some would argue that it would be wrong to use such novelties.
There are drumsticks that are entirely made of synthetic material such as aluminum, plastic or poly-carbonate and many drummers don’t really see them as a good option to wooden drum sticks. Drumming can be a strain on the body, but there are ways to play with the correct drumming motion – as this study suggests.
In conclusion we can see that when it comes to the tip, whether to go with wood or nylon is really just a matter of what music you’re going to play, but we would recommend that you skip the drumsticks that are entirely synthetic. There are of course exceptions to this, for example number seven on our list are made from poly-carbonate for the reason that they are flashing LED-sticks and wood wouldn’t really work for those drum sticks. You can also get Bamboo drumsticks (read the study here).