The first rule of stick selection is that there is no right or wrong answer when choosing your drumsticks. However, with hundreds of options to choose from it can be difficult to find the best fit for your style. Here I offer a guide to help you find the right stick for your drumming style. Keep in mind that experimentation is key! Give yourself the opportunity to try different sizes, woods, and tip material in order to find which one you like best.
Drum Stick Sizes (Weight and Thickness)
The first thing you will notice when shopping for sticks is the different sizes that are available to you. You can find out the size of a drum stick by looking at the letter and number marked on the side of the stick. For example you may see 5A, 2B, 7A, etc. Long ago these markings were used to distinguish what the sticks were meant for. An ‘A’ stick was meant for orchestral use, while a ‘B’ stick was meant for marching bands. Today, sizing by numbers and letters has lost its universal quality as it can differ from one manufacturer to another. But there are a few rules of thumb that you can use to identify certain characteristics.
- The lower the number the thicker the stick.
-Sticks marked 2 will be thicker than sticks marked 7
- The later the letter the heavier the stick
-Sticks marked 5B is heavier that a stick marked 5A
Most Popular Drum Stick Sizes
5A – This is the most popular stick at our store. It is a good reference point to start your selection process. 5A’s are good for almost any kind of player. They are a nice middle ground as far as thickness and weight are concerned. Some great “5A” options include Vic Firth Classic Hickory and the Promark Oak Wood
5B –Slightly heavier than a 5A, a 5B stick is good if you’re a drummer looking for a weightier feel. More weight can give you more rebound and punch. More aggressive players in genres like funk and blues are usually more comfortable with this size. Our most popular 5B sticks include the Vater Nude Series and the Vic Firth American Classic.
7A – A light and quick stick ideal for softer players, the 7A is a great drum stick for genres such as jazz or gospel drummers. These work best if you are a player looking for more speed and less weight. The Promark Rebound Hickory and Vic Firth American Heritage Maple
2B – A very heavy stick good for heavy players, the 2B drum stick size is a favorite among rock and metal drummers. If you have been called a loud or aggressive drummer, the 2B is probably for you. Crank it up with models like the Zildjian 2B Nylon Purple DIP Drum Sticks
The three types of wood that you will see most often when shopping for sticks are Maple, Oak and Hickory. The type of wood you choose can seriously affect the way you play. Different woods can have different durability, energy absorption, weight, etc. Let’s go over the characteristics of each wood that is available for you to choose.
Maple is by far the lightest wood you can choose. It has very high energy absorption, which can make it easier on your hands. Maple also makes for a very quick stick as it is very light. Maple sticks are a good choice for a drummer who plays a lighter style of music, and does not have to worry about breaking sticks very often. While it has many upsides, maple is the most prone material to break when compared to your other choices
Oak is the most dense of the wood choices. It is popular for it’s durability. So if you’re a drummer looking for a way to cut down on breaking sticks, than Oak may be for you. However, oak will not give you a whole lot of energy absorption and can be hard on the hands. All in all, oak sticks are a good choice for the aggressive drummer who may have experienced too many broken sticks when experimenting with the other wood options.
Hickory is certainly the most common wood used for drumsticks. It has the best of both worlds as far as density and shock absorption are concerned. Hickory is denser than maple but still lighter and quicker than an oak stick. This is a good choice for almost any drummer. It serves as a common middle ground that can be applied to anything from heavy metal to jazz.
When shopping for sticks you will definitely notice a difference among the stick tips. There are two main types of tips that you will notice: nylon and wood. The shape of the tip may also differ. Here are a few guidelines to help you decide the best drum tip configuration for you.
Wood tips are the most popular material for drum tips. They give off an organic sound that can work for any style of drumming. Many people prefer wood to for its versatility. If you are just starting off, wood may be the option for you.
If you find that you want a brighter or more definitive sound from your cymbals, then nylon drum stick tips are the logical choice. Nylon tips are used by players who are looking for more from their cymbals. If you play jazz, gospel, or are just prone to breaking wood tips, then you should consider using a nylon tip.
Stick tips can come in a variety of shapes including ball tips, teardrops, barrels, and acorn shapes. It may take some experimentation to find what suits you best. Ball tips give you a direct and responsive feel with a very tonal result. Barrel tips are very responsive with a lot of rebound and give off a full sound. Teardrops are what you will see most often. They can give off a wide range of sounds and have a comfortable feel. Acorn tips are focused and can be more comfortable for a finesse player.
We’re Here To Help
Always keep in mind that the type of stick you drum with is a very personal choice. There is no right or wrong answer. However, it is important to know all the ways you can get the most out of your stick. Finding your perfect stick can really maximize your skill. You’ll never know what’s best for you until you try a few styles out. Fill your stick bag with a variety of options and determine a winner. Whether you play best with a light, ball tipped maple stick, or a heavy 2B oak stick, you’ll have to try them to find out! If you’re feeling overwhelmed don’t worry. Countless drummers before you have had to go through this selection process. Me or an of my fellow Sam Ash drum associates are here to help. If you can’t make it to the store, give us a call at 800-472-6274, we have experienced drummers standing by.