Choosing your drumsticks
There are several factors to consider when you choose your drumsticks. What type of music will you be playing? What types of venues will you play? There is also the question of what your budget is when buying drumsticks, especially for beginners. Some of the things you may want to consider are explained here.
The most popular drumstick woods that professional drummers choose are maple, hickory and oak. Hickory and maple are used for lighter styles of drumming whereas oak is usually used for harder styles. For example, those who play metal or rock music where the harder, more durable oak drumsticks can withstand the force. There are also synthetic drumsticks which are made from plastic or metal and can be slightly more durable than wooden sticks.
For cymbals, some drumsticks have a nylon tip which gives it a crisper sound but mallets can give a much smoother rolling sound depending on what kind of music you are making. Nylon tips are also great for electric drums. Wood tips can sometimes splinter, but don’t rule them out completely. They are great for rock music as well as many other types of music as they produce a warmer sound than a nylon tip.
Drumsticks come in different thicknesses for different styles of music. The size (e.g. 7A) depends on its application and where you are playing. The number is the circumference of the stick and the lower the number, the thicker the stick. The ‘3’ numbered sticks are an exception. The letter stands for a different application. ‘S’ is for marching bands and drum corps (street applications). It has a large diameter. ‘B’ stands for band applications and is for drumsticks with a medium diameter. ‘A’ is for softer playing as it has a very thin diameter.
7A is a very thin stick usually used for playing jazz music or for young drummers who do not want to be tired out using heavier sticks. 2B or 5B sticks are very heavy so it is best to use these for louder sounds. Size 5A is the most common stick and is usually used in rock music.
If you are playing in a quieter venue, thinner drumsticks may suffice so as not to ruin the acoustics of the sound. It is a good idea to choose a range of different drumsticks to suit different venues.
The type of tip you choose depends on what kind of sound you want to make and is really personal preference. Round tipped sticks have less impact because of their small surface area and may be better for marching drummers. Barrel tipped sticks have a slightly larger surface area and triangle tips add a bit more attack to the sound. Oval tips are larger and produce a medium to low tone but are more durable as they have a larger surface area.
Quality and Price
Choosing cheap drumsticks may be suitable for beginner drummers to save some money, but they will wear out quickly and usually are not weighted properly so it is probably best to stick to well-known brands thereafter. When choosing drumsticks, make sure they are both the same length and check for straightness by rolling them on a flat surface.
Also, make sure they both match in pitch by hitting one on a flat surface and then the other and listening for a match. This will make sure that you are getting good quality drumsticks for your money. Usually, it is best to stick to sticks which have a brand name as opposed to those who don’t. Any name is better than no name.
Common brands of drumstick are Zildjian and Vic Firth. Prices start at around £10 for these well-known brands.
Drumsticks can be tailored to your own personal style as they come in all different colours and styles. Some are even fluorescent or light up! Shop around to find which sticks work best for you and your style of drumming.