Looking for the perfect drumsticks? You’ve come to the right place! More so than ever, we, as drummers, are spoiled for choice, so finding the perfect drumsticks can leave us puzzled. But ultimately, it comes down to your playing style and how the stick feels to you.
This article will explore the different options that are available on the market right now.
There are three main kinds of wood used when manufacturing drumsticks: hickory, maple, and oak, along with a couple of alternatives such as birch. Each wood is selected based on its response, feel, and durability. Like most things, there are pros and cons to every type.
Hickory is the most common wood used for drumsticks as it’s extremely efficient to source. It also perfectly balances durability and consistency thanks to its naturally straight grain. Better still, hickory has a rapid response, regardless of how heavy-hitting your drumming may be.
The wood absorbs the shock of every hit, allowing you to drum for hours on end. However, it isn’t indestructible, so you’ll need to keep your stick fresh to get the best response hickory has to offer.
Shop now | Hickory drumsticks
Another common wood used in drumstick manufacturing is maple. This is the lightest wood used for drumsticks, which is ideal for fast-paced, intricate drumming. Having said this, it’s arguably less durable than hickory and oak.
As maple offers a lighter feel, it’s great for multiple drumming styles. Plus, it reduces arm and wrist fatigue – the haptic response aids drummers in playing for extended periods.
Shop now | Maple drumsticks
Oak is an up-and-coming wood in drumstick manufacturing, being used more and more by heavier players. Because of its high density, oak enables the drumsticks to last a lot longer. It has a double-edged sword of powerful rimshots and defined cymbal pings but may take some getting used to if you’re coming from something like hickory or maple.
Shop now | Oak drumsticks
Nowadays, wood isn’t the only material used when it comes to making drumsticks. For distinctive sounds and a new wave of durability, manufacturers have experimented with plastic, metal, and even carbon fibre!
One of Ahead’s latest constructions features a plastic cover with an alloy metal core, adding six to ten times more durability than wooden drumsticks. If that wasn’t the best part about these drumsticks, their unique design also offers 50% less shock, making them super comfortable for longer periods.
The Ahead drumsticks are an ideal choice for any rock or heavy metal drummer who likes to hit hard and not worry about the usual consequences.
Shop now | Metal drumsticks
Carbon fibre drumsticks have been hitting the shelves more frequently. They offer immense durability and lightness as well as many of the qualities and sounds of wooden drumsticks. Due to the nature of the material, you can count on a clear, open tone. Plus, they reduce fatigue whilst still packing a punch!
Shop now | Carbon fibre drumsticks
You may be thinking, “surely there’s only one drumstick shape?” You’re right, however, the neck of the stick can vary – this is called the taper. It’s measured in Long, Medium, and Short and refers to the length between the tip and thickest section.
A long taper offers a fast response with more rebound, whilst a short taper reduces rebound and provides more power and durability at the shoulder of the stick. The perfect middle ground, a medium taper is ideal for beginners looking to find their comfortable drumstick setup.
Heavy metal drummers prefer a shorter taper as most of the effort and power come from the playing technique. On the other hand, softer-hitting drummers that play jazz or funk, or just prefer a more laid-back approach, usually opt for a longer taper to rely on its natural rebound and quick response.
For the experimental drummer who likes to play multiple genres, a medium taper is ideal – it’s the best of both worlds. Most significantly, finding the right stick shape is all about the feel of it in the drummer’s hands.
Shop now | Short taper drumsticks
Shop now | Medium taper drumsticks
Shop now | Long taper drumsticks
What are all the types of drumstick tips and why are they important to a good sound?
Firstly, they’re the main contact point on the drum skins and cymbals. Each type of drumstick tip offers a different colour to your sound.
Barrel tips provide a loud, vibrant, and punchy sound that’s best suited to heavier playing styles. Acorn tips, on the other hand, provide a warmer, richer sound. Beginners that may not have a steady stroke will prefer rounder tips as these help smooth out any unwanted bounces or ghost notes for a clean sound.
The range of drumstick tips extends to diamond, teardrop, and arrow, all providing different colours and timbres on drumheads and cymbals.
Lastly, the tip material plays a role in how the drum sounds.
Traditional wooden tips deliver a low to medium pitch with a warmer overall sound, whereas nylon or plastic tips produce a vibrant attack with bright overtones. For example, intricate hi-hat playing techniques are best suited to nylon or plastic tips as every beat is clear and defined.
Shop now | Nylon tip drumsticks
Shop now | Wood tip drumsticks
The thickness of drumsticks can be confusing, and it’s easy to get lost in the size guides. These guides effectively work in reverse order both numerically and alphabetically, i.e., 2B drumsticks are super thick, 8A drumsticks are super light, and in the middle are 5Bs – which are thicker than 5As.
The thickness of the stick is not only based on the diameter and feel in your hands but also on the volume and sound produced.
Heavy-hitting drummers would favour a thicker drumstick such as a 5B as the extra weight projects the volume and provides more power. On the other hand, softer-playing drummers typically prefer a thinner stick such as a 7A. This produces a sweeter and lighter overall sound.
It’s worth noting that, although it’s still firmly in place and used by thousands of drummers, this size guide is no longer 100% accurate. Many manufacturers have interpreted their own guide. For example, Vic Firth’s 8D drumsticks feel like the average person’s 7A but have ever-so-slightly lighter qualities.
If you’re looking to buy drumsticks specifically by brand, we recommend that you check the manufacturer’s size guide first.
Usually, beginner drummers choose a size between a 5A/5B and a 7A. Once their own unique drumming technique has developed, they’ll decide whether to go thicker or thinner based on their style.
The Vic Firth American Classic 5A Hickory Drumsticks, Wood Tip are fantastic all-rounders. Best described as Goldilock’s sticks, they fit in just right with a wide variety of genres.
What sets this pair of drumsticks apart from the rest, is the dedication and hours put in backstage. Working closely with the wood science department of the University of Maine, Vic Firth carries out extensive research, ensuring the very best materials and manufacturing goes into every pair of their drumsticks.
Shop now | 5A drumsticks
Shop now | 7A drumsticks
Many famous artists have worked with manufacturers to produce their own ideal pair of drumsticks based on their professional drumming experience.
Every factor has been thoroughly considered in the collaboration, resulting in unique and musical sticks that combine those crucial, standard elements with a touch of artistry.
Not only do these signatures allow you to play the same sticks as your favourite artists, but they also make for some of the most precise designs, specifically suited to a certain playing style. If you’re struggling to find the perfect drumstick for you, opting for a signature drumstick is a good place to start.
By comparing your playing style to any artist’s signature drumsticks, it’s likely that this setup will work well for your playing style too.
Some famous versatile drummers have multiple signature drumsticks, often like one another but with slight adaptations.
One prime example is Travis Barker of Blink 182. He has multiple drumsticks made by Zildjian, such as the Zildjian Travis Barker Stick Mallets. These awesome sticks feature a normal wood tip with a short taper and a soft mallet butt end for easy use on cymbals and snares. If you’re an advanced drummer looking to spice up your playing with new innovative techniques, these sticks are perfect!
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Hopefully this article has given you a good understanding of how to find your ideal drumsticks. The main things to consider are playing style and overall comfort. At any level of drumming, these two things are essential.
With this in mind, why not explore our full range of drumsticks?