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A Guide to Stick to: 5 Tips for Buying Drum Sticks

Posted on October 04, 2015

 

From the very beginning of your drumming experience, the right stick choice can make all the difference. Choosing the right stick can be a daunting task, but taking these important factors and characteristics will help you on the quest for your perfect pair:

 

Thickness
Perhaps one of the most important factors to take into the account is the thickness of the drum stick as this dictates its weight and potential durability. The weight of your stick is very important both regarding the style of music for which the sticks will be used for and also your own technique/playing style as using a stick that is too heavy, for example, can lead to discomfort when playing.
A general rule of thumb is that the thicker (heavier) the stick, the harder it will impact the given surface, thus generating a louder, heavier sound. A thicker stick also tends to be more durable therefore it may be more suitable for harder hitters. Lighter sticks can be used for lighter playing styles. Sticks are often categorized using a code of a number followed by a letter which will help you quickly decide which stick is correct, and although some manufacturers may alter this code a basic thing to remember is that the number correspond to the general weight (i.e 5, 7 etc) and the letter corresponds to its desired application. Most common sticks types are 5A (A = Orchestra), 5B (B = Band) and 5S (S = Street). 
Length
Much like the thickness, the length of the stick can have an affect on how its feels whilst playing. Choosing the right length of stick lies more within your personal preference as opposed to the music that you play. Longer sticks will feel slightly heavier, however when coupled with a preferred taper (discussed later) it can give the feeling of a lighter stick with a heavier impact. Common lengths are 15" and 16".
Taper/Shoulder
Again, the taper will have an effect on the overall feel of the stick, both regarding weight and how it moves through the air. The taper will generally be more severe on the heavier sticks and more gradual on the lighter ones. 
Tip
Unlike the other aspects of the stick, the tip does not affect the way that it plays however it does affect the sound that is generate on impact which is crucial if you are looking for a specific sound. Sticks are generally categorized into two types of tip, wood and nylon. Nylon tips will sound brighter, especially on the cymbals. Tips can also come in different shapes, which can effect to tone. The most common types are Olive (Warm, low tones, higher durability), Round (Bright, focused) and also Barrel (Mid tones).
Material
As can be imagined the most common type of material used for sticks is wood, however the choice of wood can have an effect on the weight and durability of your stick. The most common woods used are Rosewood, Hickory, Maple and Japanese Oak. Rosewood is more dense than the softer Maple, and Hickory is harder still. And finally Japanese Oak is extremely hard, and generally heavier. Other materials used are Carbon fiber, graphite and aluminium to name a few. Some sticks also come with rubber 'butt' for better grip.
Although it may seem like a lot to take in, just remember its all about how they feel in your hands! We have a vast range of sticks to try and choose, including sticks from the two world leading brands, Vic Firth and Pro Mark. We also have a range of VF and PM 'Signature' or 'Artist' sticks which often stray from the conventional styles to suit the given artist, and they may just suit you!
So feel free to come down to the store and see what suits you today!
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