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How to select drum sticks

There’s no way anyone can be the best musician they can without the proper equipment.

You might hear about the best guitar, but you might not hear much about which drum sticks are the best. That’s why we’ve made this mini-guide for finding the best ones for you.

Read Reviews First

There are plenty of reviews online about drum sticks. You might be tempted to go with whichever drum stick is most popular on these forums and websites.

But it’s important to know that there is no one perfect drum stick. Reviews are a great place to start, however, so you can look at what’s the most popular and run with that information.

Make sure to look up the best-reviewed drum sticks not only on websites that sell them but on blogs of musicians and artists that are the ones who use them. You can gain valuable information from the actual musicians who handle the equipment. Once you have done market research on drum sticks, you’ll need to go to the store and select which one you’d like to purchase.

Wood Type

The type of wood has a lot to do with the way the drums sound when you hit them. Drum sticks are typically made of maple, hickory, or white oak. Hickory is the most common and has a well-rounded sound. It also has excellent flexibility and impact resistance. Other types of wood include:

  • Maple – Lighter than hickory, larger diameter without the weight. Softer and stiffer than hickory, but sounds brighter on drums.
  • Oak – Dense and heavy, but transmits vibrations better. Durable and gives drums a dark sound.
  • Laminated Birch – Heavy and durable with a deep sound.
  • Carbon Fiber – Uncommon, but very durable with a longer lifespan than wood.

As you can see, choosing the wood isn’t as easy as reading reviews and selecting which one is the prettiest. Choose one that reflects the sound you’d like to hear from your drums. Next, we’ll go over drum stick tips.

Tip Material and Shape

Choosing drum stick tips is a complicated process simply because you must select both shape and material. Tips can come in wood, nylon, or Delrin.

Nylon has a very bright sound and is durable, as well as keeping the original sound of the drum. Delrin is supposedly more durable than wood, but it’s more expensive. Wooden tips aren’t as articulate but have a much darker contact sound.

Tips can also come in almost any shape, including barrel, acorn, ball, and oval. Barrel tips are wide and flat, giving a dark sound. Acorn tips have a large contact surface (giving it a damp sound), but ball tips have a tiny contact surface (giving it a bright sound). Oval tips are somewhere in the middle.

Choose your tip material and shape based on the same criteria you chose your wood: What sound do you want from your drums?

Thickness and Varnish

Thicker drum sticks will have a different sound than thinner ones. The diameter of a drum stick changes the weight, so more intense-sounding bands will have thicker drum sticks to reflect their sound. More mild or light-sounding bands will use thinner drum sticks because they sound sweet on drums and cymbals. They’re also better for low-volume playing.

Finally, varnish. You’ll want to make sure the grip on the drum stick is enough so it won’t slide through your hands, but it’s slick enough to be easy to handle. The only way to know what kind of grip you like is to play the drums with the sticks.

Final Thoughts

Choosing drum sticks is difficult, but not impossible. With hard work and a good amount of background knowledge, you can find the perfect drum sticks for you.

Author: Buddy Iahn

Buddy Iahn founded The Music Universe when he decided to juxtapose his love of web design and music. As a lifelong drummer, he decided to take a hiatus from playing music to report it. The website began as a fun project in 2013 to one of the top independent news sites.