Drum Stick Buying Guide
One set of sticks can’t do it all!
Different styles of music and playing call for different sticks.
Let us help you make the right choice next time you buy some sticks…or are buying sticks for someone else.
Sticks. The standard device that people tend to think of for producing a sound on a drum kit.
Brushes. Quieter than sticks, and often used in jazz, pop, and when playing ballads.
Mallets. Used for percussion instruments, both tuned and untuned.
Rods. Louder than brushes, though quiet than a stick, brushes are a good compromise for lower volume playing but when the player prefers the feel of a traditional stick over the feel of brushes.
The number represents the circumference, while the letter indicates the size and application. The lower the number, the thicker the stick. The weight of the stick affects both the feel and sound they produce. This is a generalisation, but rock drummers will often use heavier sticks for projection and more aggressive playing, whilst lighter sticks offer more control and perhaps more nuances in the playing.
Sticks are also designed with a letter, to indicate the type of application they are best suited for.
S sticks are designed with marching bands in mind. These are heavy sticks.
B sticks are easy to control and great for rock.
A sticks do not produce as much volume and are ideal for jazz or orchestral settings.
Of course, a drummer may decide they wish to experiment with stick size and designation and use them in a different way. And that is all part of bringing your unique personality to the instrument.
Most sticks are made from wood. There have been attempts to manufacture sticks from other materials, such as plastic or aluminium. These have been met with varying degrees of success.
Hickory is the most common material used to make sticks.
Oak is more dense, and more durable, and therefore able to last longer. Great for rock!
Maple is a light wood that is ideal for fast, nuanced playing.
Wood vs Nylon Tips
Wood tips produce a deep sound. The wood tip rebounds very well. Some players also prefer the sound of word tips on toms in rock and pop settings. Wood tips deteriorate with use.
Nylon tips tend to maintain a more consistent sound than wood tips, and they tend to last longer. The tone produced is different and lack the traditional sound; some players prefer the tone, and enjoy sticks that will last longer.
This is a choice for the player.
Brushes are made with wires or plastic strands joined to a handle, and are often used in jazz, pop, and Latin music. These can be swept over a drumhead, used like a traditional stick, or used on cymbals or a cajon. They produce soft and subtle tones.
Rods are several thin sticks bound together to produce one stick. Louder than a brush, softer than traditional sticks, they are a great compromise for something in between and produce a tone and feel in playing closer to sticks. Rods are ideal when you need to drive a band but with less volume.
Mallets are stickers capped with cotton, cloth, rubber or plastic. These are generally used for percussion instruments, both tuned and untuned.
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