Music Gear News
Vic Firth Drumstick Buying Guide
Don't leave it to trial and error. With a bit of research, you can find your perfect pair of drumsticks.
We get it. There are more drumstick types than human beings on earth. So finding the right sticks might seem like a painful thought. But it doesn’t have to be. We’ve set out this handy guide to help you choose the perfect pair.
It might seem that a fraction of an inch wouldn’t make a difference. But drumsticks are the tools that will be in your hands through entire performances – from start to finish. A small difference on paper can make a drumstick too heavy or too light; too thick or too thin.
That’s why it’s important to find a pair of reliable sticks you can count on. Sticks that click into your hands like keys in the ignition. Don’t get confused and panic-buy any old pair. There’s a set out there that was purpose-built for your hands. We’re going to teach you how to find them.
Want to skip straight to shopping? Shop now | Vic Firth Drumsticks
- Which drumstick should I buy? The three decisive factors
- Which Drumstick is the best?
- Drumstick Materials
- Drumstick Anatomy
- Drumstick Tips
- Drumsticks with Grip
- Vic Firth Signature Drumsticks
- Vic Firth Drumstick Series
Which drumstick should I buy?
The three most important points to finding the right drumsticks are:
- Feel: This is how the sticks feel when you are playing. If you get this right, you’ll be able play your own style comfortably. Ultimately, this is the most important point!
- Durability: This is important if you don’t want your sticks to break frequently. Especially if you’re a heavy hitter. Vic Firth goes to great lengths to ensure a long-lasting pair of sticks.
- Style: There are drumsticks for every style of music, age range, and skill level. Some drumsticks are better for beginners and kids because they are lighter, thinner and easier to hold. Some sticks are larger for heavy rock music. We’ll get to the details shortly…
Which Drumstick is the best?
The best drumstick is the one that suits your playing style. You might be a beginner. Maybe you’ve not given that much thought to the varieties of sticks available. We recommend that you start your search with the American Classic standard sizes.
There are a wide range of Vic Firth drumstick sizes. The most common sizes are in the Vic Firth American Classic line. This includes the most traditional drumstick sizes; 7A, 5A, 5B and 2B.
Many drummers find what they are looking for here and don’t go any further.
7A - The lightest sticks of the bunch. Shorter and thinner too. The 7A drumsticks are a great choice for younger players, beginners, and jazz players. They are good for jazz drummers and beginners because the lightweight design allows for quick and easy strokes with a light, articulate touch.
5A – This is the most popular and versatile drumstick in the American Classic series. It’s not too thick, heavy, or long. It’s great for a wide range of music from jazz, to pop and rock. The American Classic 5A is great for both the beginner and the versatile professional.
5B – The second most popular stick and still highly versatile. These sticks are slightly thicker and heavier than the 5As, so they are more suited to the pop and rock side of the spectrum. Not typically used for jazz, but ultimately it comes down to what you prefer.
2B - Perfect if you’re a heavy rocker. These sticks give more power and a ‘fatter’ sound to your strokes. These are heavier, thicker, and longer than the other three stick sizes.
The most popular wood for drumsticks is hickory. This is a very strong, dense wood from America and is perfect for drumsticks due to its durability and shock absorption. Most drummers use drumsticks made from hickory. Vic Firth use the best of 14 different types of hickory, putting it through a 16-stage manufacturing process to ensure their sticks are as durable as possible and feel great to hold. 85% of Vic Firth sticks are made from hickory.
However, there are several other wood types used to make drumsticks, each with its own unique benefits.
Oak is even tougher than hickory due to its density. Found in Japan and East Asia, this naturally hard wood produces clear and defined cymbal articulation, but the trade-off is increased shock felt in the arms. So, for clear articulation and more durability, oak is a good choice.
Maple is a lighter wood than hickory and oak. It’s a great choice for light, fast playing. Maple is a great alternative if you like a standard stick type, such as the 5B, but you want a lighter feel. It is a bit less durable than hickory and oak.
Persimmon is a less commonly used wood. It’s part of the ebony genus which is typically grown for fruit. Drumsticks made from persimmon are dense, durable, and resistant to high impact. Sticks made from persimmon are usually more specialist; for example, the Tim Genis signature snare stick for marching drummers.
Carbon fiber - this is the most durable kind of drumstick. They last significantly longer than wood sticks. Vic Firth have their own aero-space grade carbon fiber 5B drumsticks called the Vic Firth Titan. These sticks are priced higher than traditional sticks but are expected to last significantly longer than wood drumsticks. They are well worth the investment when you consider their lifespan.
The defining components of a drumstick are the tip shape, taper, thickness and length. Knowing the anatomy of a drumstick helps you find the best pair of drumsticks for optimising your technique and style. Here you can really fine-tune the details to find the perfect pair of drumsticks.
The thickness of a drumstick has a profound effect on its weight, projection and strength. It inevitably effects how the drumstick feels when playing. The thicker the drumstick, the louder and more powerful it will be. However, the thicker the drumstick, the harder it is to achieve speed, particularly at lower dynamics.
Thinner sticks produce light and articulate sounds. They also enable you to play faster with a lighter touch. However, you may find that playing loud, or loud and quickly, is more strenuous with thinner sticks. Thinner sticks may also not produce the desired sound for heavier music. Ultimately, it’s a trade-off between speed and power.
If you compare the 7A vs. 2B drumstick sizes from the American Classic series, you can see a significant difference, resulting in a radical difference in performance. The difference in diameter between these two sticks is 0.630’’ / 0.540’’.
The length of a drumstick affects leverage and reach. Leverage is important for stick technique and power - reach is important for the size of your kit. The longer a stick is, the more the weight will be focussed at the front. Shorter sticks feel like the weight is pushed back towards the hand. The power of the 2B stick is not only provided by its thickness, but also its increased length.
Another feature that affects the stick balance and leverage is the taper length. Depending on where the taper starts and the degree to which the stick is tapered, you will get either an evenly balanced stick, a back-heavy stick, or a front-heavy stick.
For example, a short taper means the neck is thicker, providing increased durability and power - great for heavy-hitters. Combined with extra length, you’ll get more power without having to go for something with a thicker diameter.
In contrast, a long taper produces a quicker response and more flex. This is because it shifts the weight to the hand - much like having a shorter drumstick. If you want a quick, lightweight feel while maintaining reach, this may be a good alternative to having a shorter drumstick.
The tip shape, size, and material all influence stick performance. Wood is the most common tip material with nylon also being a popular choice.
Wood tips offer the most balanced sound. You get a warm and ‘full’ sound while retaining great definition on cymbals and drums.
Nylon tips provide a clearer, more crisp tone with enhanced brightness. They are ideal for drummers who want the clearest articulation which may help in cutting through the mix. They are also more durable.
The tip shape is critical to the overall sound produced by your drums. It has as much of an effect on the articulation and fullness of sound as the material does. There are many tip shapes to choose from and you will find the tip shape noted in the specifications and descriptions of all of our Vic Firth drumsticks.
The larger the surface area, the ‘fuller’ the sound. Oval and barrel tips are two examples of larger tips that produce this broader spectrum tone.
Round tips are smaller so produce a tighter, more articulate, and focused note. One of the most common tips is the tear drop, which is featured on Vic Firth’s most popular drumstick, the American Classic 5A. This is an excellent tip shape due to the versatility it provides, with sounds ranging from tightly focused to full and diffuse.
Which Drumsticks Are Right for Me?
Now you’re clued up on drumstick specifications, it’s time to find the perfect pair! There’s a wide range of drumsticks outside of the American Classic range that expand upon the originals. With size and material variations, different grips and surface coatings there is a pair of drumsticks to fit just about any situation.
Drumsticks with Grip
Drumsticks that prevent slipping are a popular option; after all, which drummer can say they haven’t dropped a stick at least once? One drawback of these drumsticks is that a grip will alter the feel. To conquer this problem, Vic Firth has a few options:
American Classic Vic Grip - There is a range of Vic Grip drumsticks in Classic sizes. These sticks feature a specially formulated material which provides enhanced grip for less slippage.
DoubleGlaze and PureGrit - These newer models provide grip while maintaining the feel of the drumstick. DoubleGlaze drumsticks are designed for dry hands, while PureGrit are for sweaty hands. They are worth a look if you find you don’t get along with the Vic Grip or other grip options.
Or, if you want regular sticks with the option to add more grip, VicWax gives you a tackier feel and the ability to apply as much wax as necessary for you.
Vic Firth has an extensive line of signature sticks. Designed in collaboration with artists, they feature an artist signature design and their own unique character. Here’s a rundown of some popular signature drumsticks in the signature range:
- Matt Gartska- the recently released Matt Gartska signature has proven to be a popular choice. Self-described as a cross between a 55A and the Buddy Rich model. A great choice if you want a balance of finesse, speed, and power.
- Dave Weckl Evolution- Shorter tear drop tip with a 5A shaft. A colourful design available in wood or nylon.
- Keith Moon- Just short of 16’’ in length, oval tip, and a fast sloping medium taper for power and a fuller sound.
- Steve Gadd- Light and thin sticks with a barrel tip – great for recording.
Shop now | Vic Firth Signature Drumsticks
Standard Drumstick Series
- American Classic - the definitive collection. A wide variety of sizes, materials, and tips.
- American Sound - same as the American Classic drumsticks but with a full, round tip.
- American Classic Nylon - same as the American Classic with a nylon tip.
- American Heritage - Same dimensions as the American Classic but made from maple for a lighter feel with greater rebound and flex. Perfect if you want speed and light articulation, or a beefier stick without the weight. Available in 5A, 5B, and 7A.
- American Jazz - As the name suggests, these sticks are best for jazz. They feature a long taper and small tear drop tip for a focused, articulate sound.
- Modern Jazz Collection- Exceptional in any musical setting. Each stick was designed in collaboration with five artists on the cutting edge of the jazz drumming scene.
- American Custom - twelve sticks designed with a variety of players in mind, from orchestral to jazz and pop. Made from rock maple for a lighter feel.
Shop Now | All Vic Firth Drumstick Variations
Beyond the Drumstick
As you can see, there are a lot of drumsticks to choose from! They are mostly designed for the standard drumset. However, Vic Firth also has an extensive range of mallets, marching snare sticks, brushes and specialist sticks to choose from, as well as a range of popular accessories. Visit our Vic Firth page and have a look for yourself.
Shop Now | Vic Firth
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By Tom HarrisPosted on 27 Jun 2019 10:57 to category : Tips and advice
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