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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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Headed In The Right Direction

Posted on March 09, 2015

Whether you are buying your first drum kit, or looking to add a bit of variety to your sound, choosing the right drum head can be somewhat of challenge. With so many options, brands, and sizes, it may seem a bit overwhelming. Much like guitar strings and drum sticks, it is important to know what type of sound you are after, and what type of player you are. And if you're not sure- we're here to help! 

One of the most common subjects we get asked about in the shop is the difference between clear and coated drum heads. 

Coated drum heads, which are most commonly found on snares, are warmer in tone, easier to tune, produce more bounce off the stick, and allow you to have more control over the sound. Coated drum heads are used mostly on the top, or the 'batter' side of the drum. Most commonly found on snares, coated drum heads allow for more precision and lend themselves to a more detailed technique for practicing and stick control. Unlike clear drum heads, most drummers prefer to have a coated snare so they are able to use brushes for genres such as jazz or soul. Many drummers who play rock, pop, metal, funk, and solo percussion prefer snares with coated heads. 

Clear drum heads are slightly higher in pitch, have a brighter and less controlled sound, are louder and offer more sustain. Clear drum heads are less commonly used on snares, but are often recommended for toms, bass drums and floor toms. If you are looking for a clear tone with lots of volume, clear heads may be for you. Drummers who play rock, pop, and funk often use clear heads to get a bigger, louder, and a more bass-driven sound. 

Once you make the decision between clear and coated, it is time to chose what specific type of drum head you will be needing. For example, the brands we stock like Remo often have special names for the different types of heads they produce: Here are some of the most common names and specifications of our most popular drum heads and skins:

Ambassador: Bright tone with a warm attack, long sustain, and a good durability. Ambassador heads are industry standard for both live and recording situations. 

Emperor: Clear Emperor heads are among the brightest sounding heads, whilst Coated Emperor heads are warm in tone, have a medium sustain, and maximum durability. 

Controlled Sound: Warm and focused sound, medium sustain and extended durability. The laminated center 'dot' adds durability and tonal focus. 

Power Stroke: Warm and dampened tone, mid-range balance and great response. These are best known for their resonant sound on bass drums. 

Pinstripe: Dark and dampened tone, low-pitched sound, and have a quick delay which make them optimal tom heads for rock and pop. These are made with a measured ring on the edge of the head which dampens high frequency overtones. 

 If you are still unsure which drum head is right for you, come pay us a visit in the shop to find your perfect fit!

 

 

 

 

 

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