As a drummer, you will tend to play a wide variety of instruments. Just as a pianist uses different keys to play a melody, you also need to employ various kinds of drum sticks in your arsenal to achieved various effects. When it comes to selecting drumsticks, there is a lot of things that will influence your decision.
Want to drum? You need drumsticks. But which kind of drumsticks? Choosing the best pair of beginner drumsticks can be very daunting considering the variety of factors you need to consider before you get the perfect drumsticks to suit your style.
Well, in this article, we have discussed the best beginner drumsticks, types of drumsticks, materials, and drumsticks kid would use. This guide will explore several drumsticks and their application, and teach you about the most commonly used drumstick brands.
Being new to drums, it can be very daunting task. In the musical world, knowing how to pick the perfect drumsticks that suit your style will take some research. Different types of drumsticks have different codes that describe them but the question remains, which drumsticks will work for you? Remember that all kinds of drumsticks are not the same, and if you pick them incorrectly, you may struggle. Let’s take a look first at the different parts of a drum stick.
The Anatomy of a Drumstick
A. Butt of a drumstick
The butt of a drumstick is the weightier end and is opposite to the tip end. The diameter of the drumstick is measured on the butt. If you need to create a thick and loud sound, the drumstick must be thicker.
B. Tip of a drumstick
The tip of a drumstick is the end that usually used to hit the drums. When you are shopping you will find nylon and wood tips on drum sticks. Nylon tip make a brighter tone in comparison to wood tips.
Tips come in a variety of shapes.
- Oval shape- the tip shape has a larger surface area creating a fuller sound.
- Barrel – the barrel needs to be significant and broader to produce more thin and thick sound.
- Round – provides a tightly focused sound especially with crisp articulation on cymbals.
- Teardrop – provides a versatile range of sounds, from a tight and focused to a more diffuse tone.
c. Taper of a drumstick
The taper is the part of the drum stick that becomes more narrow and connects to the tip. The length of the taper affects the way the drumsticks feel to play. The tapered drumsticks which are short, have stiffer feel while sticks with long taper suit a more delicate sound. The longer the taper, the more the stick will flex. As a result, the taper is more prone to breakage.
d. Shaft of a drumstick
The shaft is another name for the main body of the stick. The shaft is mostly used to playing various sound effects.
How to Choose Drumsticks on The Market
Consider the following factors before you make any purchase.
1.Choosing the best drum stick materials and stick wood
Wood is the most common material used to make drumsticks. There are various types of wood with different levels of durability and response.
a. Hickory is the most commonly used type of wood to make drumsticks. Hickory is favored due to its flexibility, stiff, hefty, durable, dense, and will absorb energy which is essential during drumming.
b. Maple is known to be much lighter compared to hickory. Maple is softer than hickory thus it is less durable. Maple has a quicker option with more flex producing brighter sound on drums.
c. Oak is known to a very dense hardwood and dark than hickory, but transmits more vibrations. Oak is more durable and can withstand massive force.
d. Laminated birch is typically thick and heavy. Laminated birch is very durable, and they produce very dark tones from drums and cymbals.
e. Some drummers find stick made of rosewood or persimmon right.
f. Other mostly used sticks are aluminum and graphite drumsticks. AHEAD makes aluminum sticks which are very durable. Aluminum and Graphite sticks rarely break and have a replaceable tip (something that you cannot do with wooden sticks).
The tips are commonly made of wood or nylon. Wooden tips produce a warm sound but have less durability while nylon tips produce a brighter tone with much more durability.
The shape of the tips also affects the sound. Tips come in a wide variety of shapes, each shape with its sound. The most familiar shapes of the tip are;
a. Barrel tips have a wide and larger contact surface area, barrel tips have a lot of volume, articulate round tips and produce a more diffuse tone.
b. Acorn tips have the biggest contact surface area. Acorn tips provide a rich and thick sound.
c. Oval tips provide a well-balanced sound.
d. Ball tips have smaller contact surface area thus creating a ravishing sound from the drum.
e. Teardrop tips produce a broad range of sounds from a tightly focused sound to a thin one. It depends on how you hold them.
f. Round tips provide a focused sound that is especially perfect on cymbals.
g. Pointed tips provide a focused medium tone.
The thickness of the drumsticks changes the sound produced. It is the fractional part that signifies the diameter of the stick. If the number is low, so is the diameter. The thickness describes the weight of the drumstick, thus the power with which you will hit the drum.
There are two ways to determine the thickness of a drumstick; the first one is by model number. As are thinner than B’s and B’s are thinner than S’s. For instance, a 7A stick is thinner than a 5A stick, which in turn is smaller than a 5B. The only exception is 3S stick, which is thinner despite the number.
The second way to determine the thickness of a drumstick is to find the diameter of a stick. Diameter is usually measured in inches. 7As has a smaller circumference and very light. They produce a sweeter sound on drums and cymbals thus perfect for playing lower volume. 5As are slightly narrower than 7A, thus are considered to be the most versatile and generic stick. 5Bs are thicker and more intense sticks and are mostly used to play rock and metal due to their weight.
What do letters mean?
Originally, the letter suffixes A, B, and S usually indicated the recommended application.
- S model drumsticks were applied in the streets. For instance, they were used for drum corps and marching bands. They were designed for the much louder volume.
- B model drumsticks were designed for applications like brass bands and also symphonic orchestras. B drumsticks have a smaller circumference than the S models. B drumsticks are easy to control thus are perfect for a beginner.
- A model drumsticks were intended for big band. They have a smaller circumference than B sticks thus offering softer playing. They are very popular for jazz and rock players.
Every standard letter stands for something. That is, letter A stands for orchestra, while letter B stands for the band and lastly but not least, letter S stands for the street.
What do the numbers mean?
- This is the staple of drumsticks and is usually in everyone’s bag. They are usually used to play rock music, and you can use them for any drumming.
7A, 2B, and 5B
- They are much heavier than 5A and 7A drumsticks. As a result, they pack much more power.
- The 7a drum sticks are thinner, and they are more lightweight than 5As. They are ideal for younger drummers and jazz players notably for their smaller size.
4. Check the lacquer coating on the sticks
It is wise to hold the stick just like you would while playing drums. Allow the stick to slide through your fingers. Different manufacturers use a different coating that affects grip. Vic Firth favors a thin coat while Regal Tip favors a dark coat, thus making their drumsticks a bit slicker and much more resistant to skin moisture and oils. Promark favors a lacquer that becomes tacky as your hands heat the drumstick up. Promark sticks are finished by sanding while Zildjian and Vic Firth sticks offer drumsticks with a rubber coating.
5. Types of drumsticks
The following are the different kinds of beginner drumsticks
Finding Cheap drumsticks
As a beginner, you may struggle with the large selection out there. What you need is a decent set of drumsticks to use for exercise. I wouldn’t worry about a drum set until you have the basics down. Most drumsticks are good-looking and affordable if you are looking for a cheap pair of drumsticks. Remember that you will eventually break or wear out your sticks. Sticking between 5 to 10 bucks for your first pair is your best bet.
Perfect Beginner Drumsticks
Many beginners like to know if there is a particular beginner drumstick beyond there being an affordable set of drumsticks. Many drum professionals recommend 7A drumsticks for beginners, especially for kids with smaller hands, and want to learn how grasp drumsticks. This will ultimately teach your child control and good technique. 5A drumsticks are recommended for young adults and older. The 5A is great for regular sized adult hands.
Best Kids Drumsticks and Younger Adults
The following are great drumsticks for kids with smaller hands.
a. Vic Firth Kid Sticks
They 13” long. They are made for children in the 4 to 8 year range. They usually come in two particular colors that are pink and blue.
b. ProMark future Pro Jr.
Great drumsticks that are 5A diameter and have a length of 13 inches.
You will mostly find these drum sticks played on snare drums in an orchestra. Some of the orchestral drumsticks are made with persimmon, rosewood, or even birch. The recommended musical drumsticks are Cooperman, ProMark, Vic Firth and Innovative Percussion.
Marching Band Drumsticks
These are great drumsticks that are strong and will hold up. Marching band drumsticks have large beads, for they aid in projection and many volumes for playing style in a large band setting, the recommended marching band drumsticks are Vic Firth, Vater, and ProMark.
Brushes are most commonly used as a jazz artist, producing a lighter sound. Most brushes for drum sets have a nylon coating or made of metal.
They are for low volume style of playing. They produce a cool chick sound. Rules are made from dowels with various diameters. Rules made with thinner dowel produces a lighter sound.
You can use them on canjons, congas, and the kit. They have movable bands allowing adjustment for a softer attack.
They are made with the artwork of your choice or may contain company’s art at a fee.
6. Choosing the brand
The following are some brand for a new drummer.
- 1. Vic Firth
Vic Firth American Classic 5A Hingestix is the best brand that you can try. The brand was made as a tool for learning to help you as a beginner learn proper grip. They have a hickory drumsticks which are designed to produce a more clear sound.
- 2. ProMark
ProMark has a huge selection of hickory, maple and oak drumsticks with wood and nylon tips. As a beginner, try out ProMark Hickory SD1 Wood Tip.
- 3. Vater
Vater has a huge selection of products for drummers. Try out Vater Color Wrap 5A Black optic drumstick that is capable of withstanding hard and tough playing.
- 4. AHEAD
AHEAD sells a wide variety of sticks for every stage and style drummer. With AHEAD Signature Series drumstick, you can increase you playing speed and maximize your sound.
- 5. Zildjian
Zildjian has a huge selection of hickory, maple, and laminated birch drumsticks. Zildjian drumsticks are best for kids for they are easier to hold, for instance, you can try out Zildjian 5A Wood Black.
7. Selecting your sticks
Various drummers use a variety of different drumsticks for multiple playing styles. Thick drumsticks are favored for rock styles; lighter drumsticks are approved for jazz and rock styles. As a beginner, if you are buying your first pair, a good set of hickory 5A wooden tips, is the best place to start. 5A sticks have an average size, with tips that you can use on any drum.
Final Thoughts on Picking Out Drumsticks
If the drumsticks are for a young player and have smaller hands, 7A drumsticks are the best option.
Control is everything for a new drummer, and finding the correct size of drumstick is an important element in developing proper control and technique.in case the stroke looks a bit hard to control with a thin drumstick, try a thicker model.
As a beginner, try out a new kind of drumstick you choose and work them gently on a practice kit, to feel their weight, springiness, and their balance.
Video on Drum Stick Selection by Genre: