Every drummer knows the importance of selecting their cymbals and drum sets, but what about selecting their drumsticks? The truth is most drummers, beginner and advanced; do not know how to select drumsticks. This can prove to be a huge problem since the drumsticks you use can change the style and feel of the beat. Most drummers will buy the stick that looks nice, is very light, and is a good price. This is the wrong thing to do! Every style of music has an appropriate drumstick that goes with it; so, before you go out and play your next gig ask yourself if you have the right sticks for the show. This How to guide will show you how to select drumsticks.
Before we go into sizes, I want to show you how to select the best wood for your sticks. Drumsticks are made from 3 main wood types: Oak, Maple, and Hickory. Oak sticks are very heavy sticks that are hard to break. Because oak sticks are very dense, they have poor energy absorption – meaning you will feel each stroke in your hands. Maple drumsticks are a very light wood that has great flexibility. Because this wood is less dense, it has excellent energy absorption. Hickory sticks are the most common word form for drumsticks. It is a very well rounded wood with mediocre flex and energy absorption. So before you choose a stick, decide what style of music you play and select the wood that fits you the best!
The next thing I will teach you is how to select your drumstick tip. Believe it or not, even the tip matters when you are drumming. There are 2 main types of stick tips; there is wood tip and nylon tip. Both of these have their place, so do not rule one out right away. Nylon tips are great for electronic drum sets. Use these to protect your V-drum kit from splinters and scratches. They are also great for recording bright cymbal sounds. Wood tips are great for rock music. With a warm sound, wood tips can be used for practically any style of music. There are different shapes of tips that you can choose from that will compliment your playing. The best way to decide this is to try them out yourself; each drummer has his/her own opinion on this.
Now that you have a wood selected, and a tip selected, its time to choose the size of your stick. There are 3 main choices here. There is 7a, which is a small thinner stick that is used for jazz and softer music. These are great if you are a jazz drummer, or if you are a young drummer who can’t use heavy drumsticks. The most common drumstick size is 5a. This is a well rounded stick size with solid strength. 5a sticks are used mainly in rock drumming; however you can use these with any style. The last size is 2b/5b. These sticks are very larger and heavy. They have a lot more strength then other drum sticks, but they area lot louder in return. Depending on your style, this can be a good thing! Make sure you know your style of playing, and you try each size out to feel which one is right for you!
Now that you know which stick size, wood, and tip you want, all you need to do is go to your local music store and try some out. Do not worry too much about the name brand on the stick, each manufacturer makes solid products. Just make sure the sticks are not noname sticks, or you will be replacing them regularly. Vic Firth is a solid brand name to go by, although Zildjian makes great sticks as well. But don’t take it from me; try out each brand yourself to find the best one!