Beginner Drum Sticks – Ultimate 101 Guide

What types of drum sticks exist?

Drum sticks are mainly made out of wood although there are some brushes or regular sticks made of metal or plastic,  for 99% of the time drummers use wooden sticks. 

Except for the material, here’s what parts are changeable.

drumstick types

So, the length and the thickness or diameter can easily be changed, the length usually goes from 15 to 17,5. See few examples:

  • 1A (L = 16 13/16″ ; Diameter = 0.580″)
  • 2B (L = 16 1/4″ ; Diameter = 0.630″)
  • 3A (L = 16 3/16″ ; Diameter = 0.580″)
  • 5A (L = 16″ ; Diameter = 0.565″)
  • 5B (L = 16″ ; Diameter = 0.595″)
  • 7A (L = 15 1/2″ ; Diameter = 0.540″)

Now let see some tip variations and how that influence the sound. 

drumstick gude 101
anatomy of drum stick

Here you can see the anatomy of the drumstick.

Along with the tip, all other parts can be changed as well. 

Shoulder of the stick usually varies a that results in the balance of the stick.

Few variations come with a type of wood:

  • Hickory is of medium weight and durable
  • Maple is lightweight and quick
  • Oak is heavyweight and durable

Lacquering also has a few variations:

  • Lacquered: slick feel, moisture resistant
  • Unlacquered: tight grip, susceptible to moisture-content changes
  • Grip stick: no slippage, moisture resistant

We’ve gone through all variations of the regular wooden drumstick. Now let’s see some different types of drum sticks.

drum stick 101 brushes
mallets drum sticks
rods drum sticks

What are drumstick sizes?

Typically on a drum stick, you can see a mark consist out of a number and a letter like 5A, 5B, 7A, 3B and so on. What does this mean? The higher the number the thinner the stick. 

Look at it like this; Numbers are bigger adjustments and changes while the letters are slight adjustments among them. 

Here is the example




Ok, now let’s take just one of these and break down it.




  • Numbers = Big adjustments
  • Letters = Small adjustments

Three basic numbers are 3, 5 and 7 while the three basic letters are S, B, and A.

Of course, there are custom drum sticks like signature types. That kind of drum sticks can’t be classified as any of the series above but are made to fill the need of a particular drummer and they are unique. Even more, manufactures will make some additional series like 5A Extreme, made like regular 5A but a little bit longer.

Most companies have adopted their own individual systems for naming or numbering sticks.


What is the difference between 5a and 7a drumstick, 5a, and 5b?

If we compare 5A and 7A they both have a letter A, which means both drum sticks are the thinnest within the series. 5 is a smaller number which means that series is the thicker. If we would sort them going from the thickest to the thinnest it would look like this

5B – 5A – 7B – 7A

What are the lightest drum sticks?

Now when we know how the drumstick marks work we know that the lightest drum stick would be 7A as a basic type but among children drum sticks and signature drum sticks, there are many series thinner than 7A.

What are the heaviest drum sticks?

 The same goes for the thickest drum sticks, 3S would be the thickest model out of the basic ones. 

Nowadays you can easily order 10 pairs of your custom model which means you can make the thickest or the thinnest model in the world in no time. 

What are the best drum sticks?

Best drum sticks come with the best companies let’s name a few:

  • Fic Firth
  • Vater
  • Pro-Mark
  • Ahead
  • Zildjian

What makes a good drumstick ?

The wood and the balance. Better wood they have the less they break and they last longer. In the stick manufacturing process sticks gone through various steps. One of those steps is a balance check. 

The drum sticks who don’t pass the balance check go back while only the good ones end up in the stores. That additional cost is something only big companies can afford. Better wood, better balance, and a brand are the things that go into the price of the best drum sticks.

What size drum sticks should I use?

Now, this is very subjective. It’s up to you; buy a few pairs and see which fits you the most. Thomas Lang plays with very thick drum sticks while Mike Portnoy plays with very thin drum sticks

Buddy Rich played with very long drum sticks and all of these guys are great with their own habits. Every drumstick that fits your budget and feels god in hand will do the work.

This opens up Practicing with heavier sticks dilemma. You probably heard about this concept but in case you did not let me explain. The idea is to practice with heavier sticks than the one you play so your muscles will develop and your stamina will improve. 

That didn’t work for me. Why? You get used to heavier sticks quickly so when you switch back it gets weird and unnatural while I didn’t notice any muscle or speed improvement.

Drum sticks can facilitate your playing but not improve it.

What drum sticks do professionals use?

Did you hear about the endorsement? It is the sponsorship deal in which a drumstick company agrees to give the drummer a bunch of free drum sticks, other gear, and cash depending on their contract. In return, the drummer agrees to advertise them trough videos, clinics, events, etc. 

In this equation the quality of a drumstick is irrelevant. Basically professional drummer will use the sticks of a company with the highest bid, it is simple as that. 

In case of purchasing the sticks on their own, they probably go for one of the best drumstick companies I mention above.

What are the best beginner drum sticks?

As a beginner on drums, it is important not to go for the heavy sticks right away. Your muscles aren’t developed to support the weight of the stick and you can get hurt. Go slowly start with some light sticks and build from there. 

The same goes for the price, there is no need to start with the most expensive drum sticks. Have in mind that the drum sticks are drum gear that you will buy over and over which can get expensive.

What drum sticks are the best for electronic drums?

The heavy sticks can hurt the electronic inside of the drum so the best way is to go for some lighter sticks that will cause a lighter impact. Also, the sticks with a plastic tip can be a great option to think about. 

To achieve a loud sound on the drums you don’t need to hit hard or to play with heavy drum sticks, you just need to hit precise and relaxed. This can be a good approach to practice on electronic drums.

Denis Loncaric

Denis Loncaric

My name is Denis. I am a drummer, percussionist, music enthusiast, and blogger. Drums have been my passion for 15 years now. My idea is to write about the things I like and I am interested in. I want to share my drum passion with fellow musicians who walk, talk, and breathe drums.

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