Drum sticks – for a drummer – are a fundamental element. Especially those who are new to the instrument are faced with a difficult choice: what kind of sticks should I buy? To simplify the whole thing, let’s first of all see how a stick is structured and what those strange codes on its body mean.

Drum sticks – for a drummer – are a fundamental element. Especially those who are new to the instrument are faced with a difficult choice: what kind of sticks should I buy? To simplify the whole thing, let’s first of all see how a stick is structured and what those strange codes on its body mean.

Let’s face, in an extremely quick and superficial way, a bit of anatomy of the stick in order to better understand how to get to your ideal stick (provided that you will still need to try to “feel” them in an optimal way).

Tip

The element that most of all can determine the sound – for example – on a plate, is the tip. This can have different shapes, some shared by all (olive, acorn, barrel, drop, sphere) and many others depending on the inspiration of the producer. Different sizes may be available for the same shapes. A smaller tip – with the same shape – will produce a brighter and more defined sound, while a larger tip, a less bright but nuanced sound with more evident volume.

In addition to the shape and diameter, the material with which the tip is made is of great importance. Usually it can be either of the same materials as the stick or made of nylon. The latter will allow you to produce a brighter ping on the cymbals, but is also more delicate. Intensive use can cause breakage or in some cases detachment from the baton.

Neck and Shoulder

Moving towards the drummer’s hand, we find the neck of the drumstick. It’s a small tapered area that connects the tip to the shoulder. The size of the shoulder and neck depends on the diameter of the stick. The shoulder is the area with which the edge of the hi-hat and cymbals is most affected. The thinner and longer the combination of these two areas, the more flexible the stick will be. A field test will help to find the right combination, it is a matter of taste and sensitivity. Some prefer more flexible sticks, others (such as Mike Mangini) more rigid sticks.

Body

The body of the wand is divided into two areas. The first – moved towards the tip – must withstand most of the stresses. Imagine the power it has to absorb during a rimshot. The second area is the area that determines the grip of the stick itself. In this case you can choose between a natural finish or with some material that increases the grip (friction) between the palm of the drummer’s hand and the stick itself.

Terminal

The end of this quick review is the end of the wand (butt-end). It can be flat or rounded. This – depending on where you grab the stick – can make it more or less comfortable. A rounded end may also be more useful if you are using the stick in reverse.

Acronyms

We come to the mysterious acronym on any stick that – in essence – determines the model: 5A, 5B, 7A, 7B and so on. In general we have understood that the 5A are big and the 7A are thin. Let’s try to understand a little more.

Generalizing to the extreme (therefore with the three main measures), we can classify as follows:

A: Sticks with small diameter and suitable for contexts in which it is not necessary to produce a large volume

B: Medium diameter sticks suitable for symphonic contexts and bands where you need to be heard

S: The “fatties” of the family. They are usually used in music bands or – in the U.S.A. – in drum corps.

I don’t intentionally list diameters because they are subject to a large number of variables.

Doing a lot of research, I found a table that can enclose the length ranges given by the various manufacturers (as each takes measures that differ by a few inches from other manufacturers) and determined by the number placed before the letter (eg: 7A). To this table I have added the values found by my research.

1: length variable from 16.75″ to 17.25″

2: length variable from 16″ to 16.50″

3: length variable from 15.50″ to 17″

4: length variable from 16″ to 16.80″

5: 16″

6: 16″

7: length variable from 15″ to 15.75″

8: variable length from 16″ to 16.50″

9: length variable from 15.50″ to 16:50″

In any case, all producers shall indicate as much information as possible about the rods produced. These include the material used, the shape of the tip, the diameter, the length and in some cases the weight.

This information cannot, of course, replace a healthy and clarifying stick test machine in the hand.

A few small tips

Bought quality sticks, these are coupled by weight and note produced. It may seem a triviality, but it is important that the sticks have a weight and sound as close as possible to each other. Check that the sticks are straight (just roll them over a plane) and that they do not show any cracks.

As for the actual choice of one model over another, starting from what has been said so far, try various models, be extremely critical and get advice from your hands and arms. The ideal sticks are comfortable, they facilitate you in the fast passages and they have an adequate answer to your touch.

Be wary of anyone telling you that the X model is better than the Y model. It’s always a personal matter.

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