Leave the drummer jokes at the door, folks, this article is wholly based around the art of choosing the right sticks and devoted to the member of the band so often the figure of fun.
Ginger Baker, one of the best and most influential drummers of the last 50 years. He plays with 7A sticks.
First off, lets start with Size -
The number in the drumstick gives you an indication of the length. The most popular are 7, 5 and 2 - from smallest to largest - basically that the lower the number, the longer the stick.
These numbers are also accompanied by a letter, which describes the Thickness or Girth of the stick.
The thickness of a drumstick's shaft affects the overall weight, projection and strength. A thicker, heavier stick creates greater sound and offers increased durability. A thinner stick is lighter, faster and plays with greater ease. Generally, you need to match the thickness of your stick selection with the style of music that you play, and the volume in which you intend to play it.
So once you combine them together, what have we got?
7A and 5A sticks are great for light Jazz and combo playing. For Latin, Fusion and heavier Jazz I'd lean more towards the 5A sticks. If you find that you're breaking sticks easily consider something slightly thicker like a 5B.
For Rock and Pop (and most things outside the acoustic settings) 5B and 2B sticks are popular.
As with anything, it's also down to a large helping of personal preference - try a couple and experiment until you find a size you like!
Dylan Elise showing some 'stick tricks'
But there's more - what about the tip?
The shape of the tip can also alter the sound. Tear drop shaped tips give a dark sound and better lows. Barrel tips are the all rounders - great for studio work. Small Round tips give some nice highs on the cymbals. Nylon tips are the most durable and give clear highs on the cymbals, but wooden tips sound more natural on the Toms. Like the sizing, finding a tip you like is all trial and error.
Ok, so I've got a size and a tip. Now what wood should I use?
Generally the softer the wood, the more rebound you'll get from the sticks so the faster you'll be able to play. You'll have to sacrifice volume however and they're generally less durable and easier to break.
Maple is a popular softwood choice. Hickory is another popular choice. It has a more fibrous grain pattern and is denser and more rigid than maple. For these reasons, a hickory stick produces less flex and a more pronounced sound. Hickory is also capable of withstanding a great deal of shock, making it more durable.
Oak sticks are some of the hardest around but also the heaviest. They're most durable but you'll get limited rebound from them. Best used for high volume drumming.
We currently stock a full range of ProMark, Vic Firth and Rocket Drum Sticks. Take a look today!