All the interaction in a drumming set happens through your drumstick, and therefore feeling at ease with the stick is important. Drumsticks slowly wear and tear. Maintenance requires a lot of care during practice and performance. This trickles down to having a good grip and balancing of rim shots to your pad. Taping might be the long-awaited solution for a lasting drumstick. However, the tape could add some extra weight to the stick forcing you to adjust grip or to not like the idea in the first place. Here, we look at a few pointers on how to overcome these challenges, helping us (drummers) get away with stunning drumsticks.
Firstly, taping is by far not a new vocabulary for drummers. It has been around for quite some time and as early as the 80’s people were wrapping stickers around drums. The effect here is not the same as for drumsticks. People used to dampen the drums using tape to produce different sounds. This method still works up to date, in fact, if you listen to the snare on St. Anger record by Metallica you’ll get a perfect feel of what sounds drummers like Lars Ulrich wants to soften using tapes.
The Desire to Find Better Drum Stick Tape
Drumsticks are taped for a somehow different reason. It is popular among marching-band circles and for drummers who hit their instruments hard. Taping ensures the drummer maintains a better grip on the stick. It also provides an extra cushion so the stick won’t break into pieces.
A smooth, well-finished wood snare drumstick is really appealing to the eyes but it doesn’t really have the best stick grip a pro would wish for. Properly taping sticks might increase durability, but it can only do so much. A quick precaution before taping your drumsticks is to purchase quality drumsticks from the beginning so you don’t have to replace them as many times.
You can choose a variety of tape colors depending on your taste. Most drummers prefer white tapes to portray a cleaner look and still maintain the light color of the stick. Stripe colored sticks are more fitting in high school bands or those with a more feminine touch.
How Many Types of Tape?
Currently, there are several different types of tapes, each tailored according to user preference.
Which is the Best?
An electrical tape is probably the best drumstick tape out there. Finished with a great combination of creative color options, easy wrapping and durability, these tapes are sold at pocket-friendly prices. Most are about 3/4” wide and are made of both matte and glossy finishes. Be careful with glossy finishes as they tend to melt and slip when exposed to sun or heat for too long. They can also be cut into short strips to add detail to the appearance of the drumstick.
Other types of drumstick tapes might not be such a good solution for professional drummers.
Duct tape is another kind of tape and is quite thick. it is not the best drum stick tape due to its bulky material. Wrapping tends to bunch up the stick, and if the tape gets stuck to itself, you have to cut and start a new thread. Washi tape is mostly dry-textured and can cause sticks to fly when least expected. Masking tape is another type which is mostly a blend of washi and duct tape posing the same problems.
Recently tapes have been used to add color coding to drumming kits, including drumsticks. For once, color coding eliminated the confusion of losing drumsticks after performances. Especially those in college or high school bands loose a lot of drumsticks due to the same color used in all drumsticks.
For example, color coding in school bands helps instructors group their band according to different schools, grades, students, ensembles etc. An instructor can as well color his stick in a unique way to differentiate from the students’ sticks.
So, How Do I Tape My Drumsticks?
Well, it is quite easy to add tape to your stick, just follow these simple steps.
- Hold the stick by the tip and apply the end of the electrical tape to the butt of the stick.
- Turn the stick in a full 360-degree angle to wrap the tape around the stick completely.
- Using one hand to hold the stick and the other hand to hold the end of the tape, slowly turn the drumstick so the tape winds onto the drumstick. Continue wrapping until you reach the grip. Some might prefer to reach just above the grip, it also works fine.
Tapes lose their adhesiveness over time. You can simply replace the tape by removing the old tape and applying a new tape by repeating the previous process.
Make sure you practice more with wrapped drumsticks. They are a lot heavier than regular sticks and might need some significant adjustments. You also need to get used to the weight of the taped drumsticks, before you do a performance.
Hint: If you wish for a thick layer of tape, overlay the tape closely. For a thinner layer, leave more space between the overlaps.
How Else Can I Prevent My Stick From “Flying”?
Apart from taping, a gig grip could be added for tighter grips. They are small bands that wrap the finger and the stick together holding them firm often during hard drumming practices. They will add some bit of cushioning and at the same time increasing friction to make gripping easier.
Although a gig grip is effective for playing long hours of performance, it could as well get pretty uncomfortable during your set. Some professional drummers have admitted to removing gig grips in the middle of performances to reduce the pain that builds up due to friction.
Final Thoughts On Finding the Best Grip Tape
As a drummer, we always need to take care of our equipment. We really don’t have the luxury to lose or break our stick each and every time we hit the stage. Taking care of drumsticks will save you a lot in the long run.
Always remember, choosing what enhances your performance is the key to developing a great drumming set. So why don’t you consider checking your drumstick and see if it needs some taping before your next rock n’ roll.
Video on How to Perfectly Tape Your Drumsticks: