Paul Pearl is the man when it comes to drumsticks. I thought I knew a lot about the sticks I use, but Paul took me to school in minutes. He’ll take you through everything from stick size, to wood options, finishes, and more in this awesome look at choosing the perfect set of drumsticks. Check it out!
The most common choices from thinnest to thickest are 7A, 5A (the most popular), 5B, and 2B. This decision comes down to what is most comfortable in your hands, but also the application of the drumstick. I’ve talked to drummers in NYC who play Gospel and Rock and they like really thick heavy drumsticks to pound away at their drums. Some people, like Paul, may prefer a thinner stick if a lighter touch is necessary (perhaps for Jazz). In my personal experience, I sold my acoustic drums when I moved from Virginia to New York, and along the way I picked up an electronic kit for convenience.
Now, even though I prefer to play rock and funk and pound away at my kit, because my drums are digital, I don’t need big heavy sticks. With that in mind, I’ve decided to try something new, and now play longer thinner sticks to help me dance around the kit. So, don’t be afraid to try something new. Drumsticks aren’t terribly expensive, and need to be replaced overtime anyway (especially slamming cymbals on an acoustic kit). Try a few sticks out, grab a couple different pairs, and fill out that stick back with an arsenal of awesome sticks!
There are 3 main types of wood used in manufacturing drumsticks.
Hickory – the most popular option. It offers a good blend of durability and density.
Maple – lighter and softer than hickory. With maple, you can have a thicker diameter stick without it being too heavy. If you like the feel of a bigger stick, but it just felt too heavy, then maple may be a perfect option for you. Maple also offers less shock transmission.
Oak – Promark uses Japanese Shira Kashi Oak. It’s noted for being dense, durable, and heavy. This is a perfect choice for heavy hitters.
Feel and Balance
This is the nitty-gritty of drumsticks vernacular right here. We’re talking about taper (that section near the striking end of the stick where the stick gets thinner and heads towards the tip; the tip, of course, being the smallest point on the stick with which you strike your drums). This is located in an area we call the shoulder of the stick. The length of the taper, the angle at which it’s cut, all of these things effect the feel and response of the stick.
Forward Balance – Shorter taper. This stick shifts the center of balance forward and propels the motion in the front end to enhance power and speed.
Rebound – Longer taper. This shift the center of balance to the back end which makes the stick rebound or bounce easier. It feels like the stick is doing a lot of the work for you.
Standard Lacquer – the most popular option. This one is a nice silky smooth finish.
Natural Finish – raw wood that’s sanded down. Good for dry hands.
Active Grip – heat activated grip solution. This finish is water based and applied thin. This adds no additional weight or diameter, and it feels like a standard lacquer stick. There is a special heat activated ingredient that, as you play and your hands heat up, makes the stick become tackier to help you hang on!
FireGrain – flame treated to add durability. Developed from ancient Japanese technique called Shou Sugi Ban. They are great looking sticks. They feel just like a nice hickory drumstick, but they last longer! Great for heavy hitters.