Decoding Drum Stick Sizes: What You Need to Know

July 13, 2023

There are many drum stick sizes. For beginner drummers, this can be quite confusing. There are also some letters alongside the numbers on the drum stick.

You are probably wondering what that is supposed to be. Don’t worry, it is even easier than you can assume.

Sit down and relax. I will explain everything you need to know about the drum stick sizes, thickness, and the marked “codes” on the sticks. Let’s start.

Understanding Drum stick Sizes

The Letter-Number System

A drum stick’s weight and diameter are determined with the letter and number system on the sticks. 

The higher the number, the lighter the stick. As for the diameter, here’s an example. A 5B drum stick is thicker, which means larger in diameter, than a 5A drum stick.

The size of your drum sticks can largely affect your drumming and your sound. A lower number often indicates a larger diameter. To put it simply the 7A is smaller than the 5A.

  • A stand for the “orchestra” model
  • B stands for a “band” model.
  • S stands for a “street” model, like marching bands.
  • D stands for “dance” bands.

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

So, the length and the thickness or diameter can easily be changed, the length usually goes from 15 to 17,5. See a 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″)

Of course, there are signature drum stick 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.

Double Numbers on Drum Sticks

There is also a chance that you can see a drum stick with double numbers and a letter or two different numbers. Don’t get confused. Let’s explain.

For example, you run on the 55A. This means that this stick is the same as a standard stick of the same number (in this example 5A), but with something added. That added thing is either more thickness or length.

drumstick sizes

Choosing the Right Drum stick Size

The size can affect your drumming style and, thus, the sound. To be precise, the drum stick’s length and weight are the biggest factors that affect the drum sound. Aside from the drums themselves, of course. 

Thicker, heavier drum sticks provide more volume and are more durable. 

Lightweight drum sticks are thinner and, thus, lighter, so they are easier to handle and use.

How does the length of a drum stick affect the sound?

The length of a drummer’s drum stick influences how easily a drummer can reach around the kit.

A longer drum stick provides more reach across the set with a faster stick response.

A shorter drum stick restricts reach but gives the drummer more force and strength.

What is the most common drum stick size?

There are 7 main drum stick sizes. Let’s check each one of them and explain them.

5A – Standard, all-around drum stick – perfect for beginners. 

5A’s are a great choice for beginners to start. This is because they are well suited for various genres ranging from rock to jazz. Intermediate drummers may want a heavier stick, such as the 5B, which is ideal for Rock, Funk, and Metal.

3A – Thicker and longer but still light – perfect for rock and fusion. 

The 3A has a barrel tip for producing expressive cymbal sounds. These sticks are light and fast. Thus, they are ideal for light-rock and fusion applications. But 3A is thicker and longer than 5A. 

5B – Standard drum stick, but a bit thicker than 5A – also great for beginners. 

The usual standard and frequently accessible 5B sticks. 5A drum stick is a classic model with classic weight. This stick’s overall feel and balance are suitable for the majority of drummers. It is the second most commonly used stick. It has the same length as the 5A, but it is more thicker. 

7A – Thin and lightweight sticks – perfect for jazz drummers. 

Drum sticks in sizes 5a and 7a are ideal for beginners. 7a drum sticks are more suited to jazz performers and youngsters. On the other hand, 5a drum sticks are better suited to beginners of all ages learning to play rock and other styles since they are more adaptable. This is because 7A drum sticks are thinner and more lightweight sticks – perfect for light hitters.

2B – Heavier stick – Perfect for rock, metal, and heavy metal. 

Another classic model, 2B, is heavier than the 5B, but their length is the same. This stick’s overall feel and balance are ideal for drummers who like a bigger stick with a stronger forward feel. These drum sticks are suitable for playing styles such as Rock, Metal, and even Heavy Metal. 

8D – Lightweight but longer stick – great for jazz drummers with bigger setups. 

The 8D drum stick is almost the same as 7A, but the only difference is that it is a bit longer. Perfect choice for jazz drummers. 

1A – Longest drum stick – perfect for extra reach – usually for rock and fusion. 

1A sticks are the largest drum sticks out of all seven. It will give you an extra reach with a lot of power. This is the perfect one for rock and fusion style of drumming. 

choosing drum sticks

Frequently Asked Questions

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

Can I use the same drum stick size for all types of music?

Yes, you can use the same drum stick size for different styles. However, this can affect your drumming. 

For instance, if you try to play rock music with thinner drumsticks, you will have a hard time reaching those loud tones. But, on the other hand, it is not impossible, you just won’t reach the desired sound quality you were aiming for. 

What size drum sticks should I use?

5A sticks are ideal for beginners since they are a wonderful all-arounder. 2B sticks are ideal for practicing because they help strengthen your hands and promote speed when you return to standard-size sticks. And the classic standard and frequently accessible is 5B drum sticks. 

However, 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.

What size drum stick for beginners?

Beginners should start with the 5A drum sticks. This is because they provide a good starting point. Once you’ve developed your own style, experiment with other sticks as well. 

You can always come back and use 5A. But my advice is to try various sticks and experiment with the sound. Only then you will know which one suits you the best. 

How do drumstick sizes affect playing style?

Yes, drum sticks can affect your playing style. Heavier and thicker sticks have a louder, more forceful sound. Lighter and thinner sticks produce a softer, more subtle sound. 

Depending on your preference, choose the drum stick. If you choose lighter for playing heavy metal, you will struggle a lot. And vice versa. 

The appropriate size is crucial for your playing style while your drum set will assist you in achieving the optimum sound quality.

Let’s wrap it up 

Choosing the right drum stick sizes is as important as choosing the right drumkit. 

Drum stick length and weight affect the sound of your drums. Thus, getting the right pair is a must. However, there are some general rules of thumb. 

It is always a good idea to start with 5A when you are a beginner drummer. You can also try 5B and 3A since they are similar. Once you find your groove, experiment with it. 

Try different sticks to see which suits your style the best. Follow the mentioned drum sticks brand, and you cannot do wrong. 

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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