Best Drum Sticks Review in 2017

When you're aiming to get a particular sound, drum sticks are just as important as the rest of your gear. An overwhelming amount exists on the market made by various manufactures, all coming with their own pros and cons. So, we've analyzed five of the best drum sticks that'll hopefully help you make a decision.

How to Choose the Right Pair for Your Needs

Think About the Wood

The construction of a stick helps determine the overall feel, flexibility, durability, and sound. Sticks are generally made from three common woods: maple, hickory, and oak.

Maple is the lightest and more prone to breaking. These sticks offer a faster response, and they're an ideal choice for those who play softer, lighter, and quicker. Maple sticks also aid in focusing tone rather than projection. They can sound brighter too.

Hickory is a popular choice. They're denser and heavier than maple sticks, and they balance out lightweight and durability. These sticks are versatile and help reduce hand and wrist fatigue by absorbing shock.

Best Drum Sticks

Out of the three common woods though, oak is the most dense and sturdy. Sticks made from this tend to be rather heavy. They're generally preferred by musicians who are heavy-handed and wish to focus on volume. They can help create darker sounds.

Some drum sticks are made using other materials such as rosewood, birch, or synthetic material. These sticks tend to be more expensive, however.

All About Tips

There are a range of tip shapes that can change the sounds your sticks can produce. We'll list some of the more common shapes: round, barrel, pointed/triangle, and teardrop.

Round:

Good for a focused attack. These can work especially well on cymbals as they can deliver a bright tone with good clarity. Smaller tips can sound tight, while larger ones can sound fuller.

Barrel:

Have a large, flat contact area. They can create broader, darker tones with great volume.

Pointed/Triangle:

Mix between round and barrel tips. They produce focused, medium tones with a bit more of a pronounced attack.

Teardrop:

Great for those who seek versatility. They deliver a range of sounds heard in both round and barrel tips depending on how they're held.

The material used to make the tips can change how they sound and how long they may last. Wood tips can give off softer, warmer tones. Nylon tips weigh less, which can create a faster rebound. They also sound brighter against cymbals, and generally have better durability than wooden tips. However, they can still fall off. Nylon tips work well against electronic kits and in the studio, while wood tips may be better reserved for gigs.

Want to hear the difference between nylon tips and wooden tips? Check out the video below:

Numbers and Letters

Drum sticks are typically labeled using numbers and letters like 5A, 2B, etc. Exact specs may differ depending on manufacturer, but generally, labeling is intended to denote circumference and intended use.

Lettering specifies the recommended application for the drum sticks. "S" model sticks stand for "street", and they're larger in design. Those who want projection and louder volume usually use these. They can be found in the likes of marching bands.

"B" model sticks stand for "band", and they're made with a smaller circumference compared to "S" models. They're recommended for beginners due to their ease of control.

"A" model sticks stand for "orchestra", and these are the thinnest of the bunch. They tend to have a dynamic range. Although they were originally designed for dance orc3hestras, many different musicians such as rock player prefer to use these models.

When it comes to numbering, the lower the number, the larger the circumference will be. For example, a 2B stick will be wider in comparison to a 5A model.

Nevertheless, different manufacturers may tweak the designs of their sticks. One brand's 7A may be completely different than another's 7A. When you come across a pair of sticks you really like, it's best to check out the specific specs to make sure they are to your liking.

Additional Features to Look Into

Before you purchase a pair of sticks, check the finish applied to them. Certain coatings can affect the grip. Some lacquer finishes can make sticks slick. Other brands can apply a special non-slip grip coating that can be helpful to some and feel too sticky to others.

Another feature to look into is the tapering. The area that is directly behind the tip is referred to as the shoulder, and the shape of the shoulder is known as the 'taper'. This taper plays a role in determining the sound and feel of the stick.

Long-tapered sticks have more flex to them. They tend to be more fragile and offer faster response with delicate sounds. Short-tapered sticks are stiffer. They have better durability and are usually front-end heavy.

Five Best Drum Sticks

Vic Firth American Classic 5A Drum Sticks

Best Drum Sticks

Vic Firth is a common brand seen in many drummers' accessory kits whether you're a beginner or a professional. Their American Classic Series utilizes both tradition and the typical Vic Firth style in their construction to create drum sticks that deliver fuller sounds. Made from hickory wood, these sticks can absorb a good deal of shock, which can aid in reducing hand and wrist fatigue.

As they are made in the 5A style, they have a good grip and are lightweight and well-balanced. These drum sticks tend to work better for those who are interested in fast action, lighter playing styles. As such, they probably will not hold up long for those who are prone to heavy, intense drumming.

The length of these (16-in.) can help you get a better reach. Their tips are wooden, which are not exactly durable, so you may see some wear in them over time. The teardrop shape of the tips, in addition to the fact that they are wood, can help give richer cymbal sounds, however.

Pros

  • Hickory wood construction for shock absorption and flexibility
  • Wood, teardrop tips can give richer sounds
  • Designed for versatile musicians (beginners-professionals/rock-jazz)

Cons

  • Tips are not durable, and can snap after medium to heavy hitting of the cymbals
  • May not last as long as they should as they may splinter/crack after a few months
  • They may not always come sanded, so you have to watch for potential splinters

Zildjian 5A Nylon Black Dip Drumsticks

The Zildjian Company first started up back in the 1600s, and is one of the oldest family-owned businesses in America to-date. They continue to produce high-quality percussion instruments and accessories such as cymbals and drum sticks.

Their 5A Nylon Black Dip drum sticks are perhaps their most popular sticks. As their 5A size notes, they can be rather versatile. So, these sticks may work with beginners and experts alike, as well as those in different musical genres.

These sticks are granted a special coating so that gripping them is easier and more comfortable. However, this rubber grip may wear off quickly depending on your grip style and how frequently you play. You should be able to drum faster though since these sticks are made using hickory, and as such, are lighter in weight. Also, they measure 16-in. in length, and they can give you quite some reach.

When it comes to the tips, the sticks use nylon rather than wood. Nylon tips allow for greater durability, and they may also sound better on electronic drum sets. They are oval in shape, which can produce a fuller tone.

Pros

  • Nylon tips can provide greater durability
  • Rubber grip can make playing more comfortable
  • Oval-shaped tips produce rich, fuller tone

Cons

  • DIP can be too sticky/uncomfortable
  • Nylon may come off after excessive use
  • Rubber grip may wear quickly over time

Vic Firth American Custom SD1 General

Performer and teacher Vic Firth designed and engineered the American Custom line of drum sticks. The line consists of several varied models conceived with those who play rock, jazz, or pop music in mind. Generally, they are seen as good practice sticks, but can be used all-around as they can have good balance and are easy on the hands and wrists.

The SD1 General sticks are rather thick in diameter for those who like a bulkier stick to hold, but they lack much weight to them. This can allow for easier, quicker movement. In length, the sticks measure about 16 3/8-in. As these drum sticks are made out of maple wood, they are not as durable as their hickory counterparts, but they're able to produce brighter sounds. They can work well for those wishing to play lighter.

They have a short taper that gives it a front heavy feel, yet can grant you additional power when you're playing. The tips are wooden, which may lessen the durability of them. However, they are rounded, and that can help give them a fuller, more focused tone.

Pros

  • Large diameter and low weight can help ease hand and wrist fatigue
  • Balanced well to help hold up with novice drummers
  • Versatile for those looking for a mix of strength and speed

Cons

  • Maple wood construction is not exactly durable, so they may break easily
  • They lack the usual weight needed in practice sticks to properly develop strength and stamina
  • Some may find them too bulky to use for extended amount of time

Zildjian 5B Nylon Black Drumsticks

Made from hickory wood, these 5B sticks have a decent thickness to them without being heavy. As such, you can experience some fast playing. However, for hard-hitting drummers, the paint may chip or the drums may snap after some time. Another concern with the paint is that some of it may stain your hands if you're prone to sweating.

These 16-in. sticks come with nylon tips, some those looking to hit electronic drums may find more interest in these sticks. The sticks appear to be well-balanced, and they may vibrate just enough that you can get a feel of the music you're playing.

In general, the drum sticks are constructed to work well for starter musicians. They have a good size and weight for beginners of various ages to grow with in addition to a comfortable grip to reduce any wear on your hands and wrists.

Pros

  • Nylon-made tips are useful for practice sessions/electric kits
  • Good balance between thickness and weight
  • Can deliver good tone with a fast response

Cons

  • Due to the finish, they may get slippery after extended use
  • Paint can mark up your drums, especially your cymbals
  • Don't appear to be durable enough to last very long

Vic Firth Corpsmaster® Signature Snare – Ralph Hardimon

The Corpsmaster® line by Vic Firth demonstrates years of collaboration with various bugle and drum corps. Measuring out 17-in. in length, the Ralph Hardimon Signature Snare model is made from hickory and designed with a unique barrel tip for a crisp sound. It is long-tapered to help give you a faster response.

Although they come across on the thick, heavier side, they seem balanced out well, and can aid in adding control. They can be versatile as either practice sticks or used while marching. Also, they can work with student percussionists of various ages.

These drum sticks provide good rebound. You should be able to maintain a tight grip without them flying out of your hand while marching or practicing. About their durability, they appear as though they can last some time, but they may splinter soon from continued/heavy use.

Pros

  • Long-tapered design helps give a faster response with added control
  • Versatile enough to be used in practice, marching, concerts, etc.
  • Smooth textured finish and handle well for a comfortable playing experience

Cons

  • Sound/tone quality and pitch may be inconsistent between the sticks
  • Might come across as a bit too heavy for some, especially student drummers
  • Wood tips may break off easily after long-time use

Conclusion

For every drummer out there, one pair of sticks will always trump another pair. Although what is considered to be the best depends on the intended sound and feel you're looking for, we feel that out of the five we've reviewed above, the Vic Firth American Classic 5A Drum Sticks beat the rest for the number one spot.

They can hold up pretty well over time due to being made from quality hickory material, and even if they do break, they aren't expensive. Buying them in bulk seems like a good decision for many drummers out there. Their overall design makes them highly versatile in sound and use, and their weight and circumference can help reduce hand and wrist fatigue. If you're in the market for a pair of drum sticks you can use in practice, the recording studio, or a gig, then the 5A American Classic by Vic Firth appear to be an ideal choice.

Stephanie Su
 

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