There are different types of drum sticks and each one of them has its own, unique sound and purpose. This can confuse the newbies, but I believe you, I’ve been there. Luckily, it is not something you should stress about.
There are a few rules, and once you learn them, you will know every type of drumstick in the middle of the night. Let’s check them. I will also tell you what are the best drumsticks for beginners and for professionals as well. Stay tuned, and let’s dive in!
Understanding the Importance of Drum sticks
Drum sticks are equally important as the drum kit itself. This is because the material, length and diameter of your stick will affect the sound once you strike the drums or cymbals.
The greater the diameter of the drumsticks, the heavier the weight. Also, the higher the number, the lighter the stick.
The diameter contributes to a wider sound projection and loudness. Weight influences the sound, power, and control of your drumsticks. Heavy sticks provide a more “thick” and powerful sound. But lighter sticks produce less volume.
Anatomy of the 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.
The Taper of the Drum stick
The taper is part of a drums stick. It is the next following thong after the tip. It is where a stick thickens and widens. A long taper creates flick and flex with a quicker response. A short taper produces flick and flex with extra strength. Also, a short taper increases the size of the neck of the stick. This will provide more power and also longevity.
The Shaft of the Drum stick
The shaft is the longest part of a drum stick and also the main part. It’s located between the butt (end) and the taper (beginning) of the stick. Also, it is also the part where manufacturers place their logos.
The appropriate length, diameter, and weight of the stick will influence on different drumming styles. Flexibility and resistance are also key considerations.
Rock drummers, for example, choose a heavier drumstick with a longer shaft that can withstand persistent and hard contact with the drum rims. But, jazz drummers prefer lighter sticks with a shorter overall length.
It’s also the portion of the stick you grasp when playing, however some drummers may distinguish between the shaft and the section you hold, which they call the grip area.
The Butt of the Drum stick
The butt, better known as the grip, is the area where you grasp the drumstick, which measures around 130mm (5″). Drum sticks usually have a variety of types with rubberized coating for a firm grip.
A decent stick has a rounded end for a secure grasp in the palm of the hand.
Furthermore, it is critical that the entire stick be completely cylindrical, with no flaws such as fractures or splinters, so that it rotates uniformly when in use. For a louder, heavier, and deeper sound, many drummers play with the stick inverted and striking with the butt end.
Drum Stick Types
Drums sticks can differ in the following:
- Wooden drum sticks
- Steel drum sticks;
Size and diameter – here are the most popular:
- 5A – Standard drumstick
- 3A – Thicker than 5A but a bit longer
- 5B – Shorter yet thicker than 3A
- 7A – A thin drum stick
- 2B – The thickest stick available
- 8D – Same as 7A but a bit longer
- 1A – The longest stick available
See full article on drum stick sizes here
Wooden drum sticks
Most drummers use wooden drum sticks, here are the most popular materials:
- Hickory – The most popular wood for drum stick manufacturing because these sticks are responsive, durable, and rigid. Its mild elasticity allows for a strong attack all around while also absorbing some shock from heavy strokes. This is making hickory drumsticks among the most comfortable to play.
- Maple – The low weight and high flex of maple offer sticks a quick rebound that makes them easy to play. Although maple sticks are not as durable as hickory, their lightweight and speed make them popular among jazz and pop drummers.
- Oak – Oak is less popular only because these sticks can be very heavy. This is because the oak wood has a high density. But thanks to this, oak sticks are the most durable ones. If you want to play louder with less effort and are afraid that your sticks might break, oak is for you.
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
The type of wood is extremely important since it affects its longevity. Oak and hickory drum sticks are long-lasting, whereas maple is lighter but less sturdy.
Aside from wood, drumsticks are also made of other components. This includes metal, carbon fiber, and other contemporary materials.
Steel drums sticks
Steel drum sticks might not be as popular as wooden drum sticks but they are still used. They are often made of high grade aluminum alloy and are suitable for all levels of drummers.
They are available in all e-commerce shops online and you can find them for around $14 on Amazon. They are perfect for different genres and playing styles. However, they are probably the most popular in playing jazz music.
Last but not least, don’t forget about brushes. They are even more quiet compared to rods. They’re primarily used in jazz music, although they’re wonderful for a gentler tone as well. Drum set brushes can have nylon or metal bristles and can be retractable or not.
They may be dragged across the surface of a snare for a scratchy sound, and they’re also fantastic for a Cajon (a wooden box percussion instrument from Afro-Cuban).
Mallets or also known as beater is also used for playing drums. There are hard, medium, and soft versions of mallets available.
They’re typically used on cymbals and timpani to provide sustain depending on how hard or gently you hit them. Mallets are manufactured by wrapping felt around two metal washers to the desired size, weight, and thickness.
Rods are similar to classic drum sticks but are more quiet and produce lower volume. They’re made from a cluster of dowels of various diameters.
Rods drum sticks deliver a softer attack than sticks and serve well in low-volume situations. Also, or if you just want a different texture, they have that cool “chick” sound.
Understanding Drumstick Tip Types
The taper is the grade of the stick from the body to the tip. A broader taper is preferable for strong, forceful rhythms, while a narrower taper is preferable for a softer sound.
The tips are constructed of wood or nylon, and their form influences the sound. Thus, there are five main drum stick tips
- Taj Mahal
Tear drop tips are perfect for warm and focused low tones.
Round/ball tips of drum sticks are easy to control. They also respond evenly across all playing surfaces.
An oval tip produces a well-balanced tone. They will provide you with a well-balanced frequency response, with an equal distribution of mids, highs, and lows.
A barrel tip produces a lot of volumes and is great for loud drumming and punchy sound.
An acorn tip produces a rich sound, making them perfect for producing that dark and smooth articulation on your cymbals.
Drumstick Weight and Its Effects
Your drumsticks’ weight influences how they feel and sound. They will influence your playing style and overall genre that you are playing.
While heavier drum sticks are better for rock and metal music, lighter drum sticks are better for music like jazz.
Also, lighter sticks are thinner and easier to handle, while thicker, heavier sticks give more volume and longevity.
How do I choose drum sticks?
Start with the most popular models of wooden drum sticks like 5A, 7A, and 5B, and go from there. Sticks can have different sizes, weights, tips, shapes, and thicknesses and can be made of various materials, but one of these three will give you a hint of which direction to go.
What makes a good drumstick?
Balance and durability. Sticks with better balance tend to bounce more which makes them easier to play. Durability is obvious since every drummer wants his drum sticks to last.
What drum sticks do professionals use?
Professionals use wood drum sticks, brushes, and mallets. Other drum sticks are used for practice. Pro drummers usually use their signature model rather than a commercial model.
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 like 7A or if these are too light use 5A.
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?
I suggest using wood drum sticks in size 5A, that’s a regular mode.
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.
What is drum stick 5A vs 7A?
Drumsticks in size 5a are significantly longer than drumsticks in size 7a. 5a drumsticks are 16′′ long, but 7a drumsticks are 15′′ to 15.75′′ long (depending on manufacturer).
Also, 7a is a thinner stick than a 5a. The diameter of 7a is 0.54′′, whereas the diameter of 5a drumsticks is 0.565′′.
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.
Let’s wrap it up
Knowing the types of drum sticks is crucial when buying your first kit.
Without drum sticks, you cannot play your drums. I know that’s too obvious, but beginner drummers are somewhat more concentrated on choosing the drum set than drum sticks. Which is reasonable. But we shouldn’t neglect their role nor their power.
The drum sticks vary according to the used wood and the size. Both of these things can affect your drumming and your sound. So ensure you know all of these things before choosing your weapon of choice.