Top 5 Best Drum Sticks in 2020 Reviews

drum sticks buying guide

A drum set isn’t much use without drum sticks. Drum sticks come in many different sizes, materials, designs and quality.

It is important for the individual drummer to find the right drum sticks for them and it is not unusual for well-known drummers to design and develop their very own type of drum sticks in cooperation with a manufacturer.

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Top 5 Best Drum Sticks

Below I have selected the best drum sticks available. They are cheap while still being top notch quality.

Best all round drum sticks

Best drumsticks for metal & rock

Best jazz drumsticks

Best marching drum sticks

Best professional drum sticks

Best drumsticks for electronic drums

Best snare drum sticks

Drum stick sizes

The exact size of the drum sticks typically varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. There are no exact standards, but the different sizes are often divided into 7a, 5a, 5b, 2a and 2b. 7a is the smallest size and these are used in light, quieter jazz music, where they often are used together with drum brushes. 5a is the most widespread size; it is longer, thicker and heavier than 7a, and this size is used in virtually all kinds of music. With this size, you can play fast but still get lots of power and energy in your beats. You can also play hard and quiet, making the sticks very dynamic. 5b is especially suitable for various rock genres, and it is particularly widespread as practice sticks. 2a is particularly suitable for heavier genres. For example, hard rock and heavy metal where you really need to make some noise. 2b drum sticks are the absolute heaviest if one disregards custom drum stick sizes. These are mostly seen only in heavy genres as they are very difficult to play quickly and because they are not ideal for more dynamically sensitive genres.

Drum stick materials

The vast majority of drum sticks are made from different varieties of wood. However, over the years many different materials have been experimented with, including metal and carbon fiber. The choice of material is crucial to the sound, balance, durability and general feeling of the drum stick. There are many different ways to check the quality of the drum stick, but nowadays, drum sticks are produced with such high accuracy that drum stick inequalities become increasingly rare. There is not one particular material that is better than the others. It depends entirely on the drummer’s taste. However, the most widespread materials used are hickory, oak and maple.

Hickory drum sticks: particularly strong American wood. However, the density and hardness are slightly lower than that of oak wood, which means that hickory drum sticks are good at absorbing shock. Hickory is therefore not as hard on the wrists as they absorb most of the impact, and most drummers will find that they can play longer with hickory drum sticks. In addition, hickory is very durable in relation to its weight, making it even more desirable.

Oak drum sticks: are about 10% heavier than hickory. The wood is, as mentioned earlier, harder, which gives it a longer life. The increased durability means that drum sticks made of oak can be played harder than drum sticks made of other materials. Oak is therefore very widespread among drummers who play a lot on heavy cymbals and who play a lot of rim shots, as these are the factors that often end up cracking your drum sticks.

Maple drum sticks: Unlike oak, maple is slightly lighter than hickory. By using maple, you can make a thicker drum stick without it being too heavy to play with. Maple is not as powerful as either hickory or oak, and it is therefore slightly less durable. Drum sticks in this material are particularly prevalent in genres where you play very fast but still having to keep volume under control from time to time.

Aluminum drum sticks: many types of metal have been used to make drum sticks, but the most common is undoubtedly aluminum. The Danish Lars Ulrich from Metallica is one of the front runners for metal drum sticks. Aluminum is far more durable than all kinds of wood, and aluminum sticks only break in very rare and extreme cases. The process in which aluminum drum sticks are manufactured is very easy to control, and these drum sticks therefore have a weight difference of less than 1%. The only downside, however, is that they are a lot heavier than wooden drums made of wood, and hard playing on cymbals can easily become a serious problem. Therefore, if you choose to play with drum sticks made of aluminum, it is very important to keep track of your technique and not to play on too thin cymbals, as these often break faster than thick cymbals. Most drummers who play with aluminum drum sticks, however, play music genres where it is very normal to play with particularly thick cymbals.

Carbon fiber drum sticks: This synthetic material feels most like a drum stick made of hickory. Carbon is often characterized as being a bit more durable than most types of wood, while the surface is easier to hold on to. Drum sticks of carbon are therefore an obvious choice if drum sticks are slipping out of your hands if you sweat while playing.

Drum stick parts and construction

Anatomy: The head of the drum stick – also called the tip – is the outer part with which you hit the drum with. The shoulder of the stick is the part that sits just below the tip, and it is typically this part you use to hit the crash cymbals and, in some cases, the hi hat.

Length and weight: The length of the drum stick influences the balance and center of gravity of the stick. Long sticks have more reach, while shorter sticks are often easier to play quickly. Short sticks in many cases offer more control over one’s games. The thickness of the stick affects its weight and durability. Thick sticks often last longer and are usually heavier than thin sticks. Thicker sticks are also often easier to hold onto.

Drum sticks are typically between 38 cm and 43 cm long. The weight is typically between 40 grams and 70 grams, but there are custom designed drum sticks that are significantly heavier than normal drum sticks. For example, Mike Mangini of the progressive metal band, Dream Theater, is known for playing with very heavy drum sticks and still being one of the world’s fastest drummers.

The shape of the tip

Teardrop shaped tips: Drum sticks with a teardrop-shaped tip often provide very rich and deeper tones.

Barrel tips: Barrel-shaped tips provide plenty of punch, making them very suitable for situations where you want to be playing very loudly, or for genres where you want a more aggressive sound.

Ball tips: The all-round tip gives a very clear sound with an extremely well defined ping when playing on the ride cymbal. These drum sticks are particularly prevalent in genres where you must be able to feel the presence of the cymbals, and where the overall rhythm of the song is played on this. Many drummers in the faster and wilder jazz genres use drum sticks with this kind of tip.

Acorn tips: a very versatile design that gives a rich, very bold sound. This type of tip works especially well for the drummer who wants to get his toms to sound big and deep.

Oval tips: The oval tip is very similar to the round, with one small difference that the oval tip often gives a slightly wider middle tone.

Different types of drum sticks

Rods: Also known as ‘hot rods’, his special type of drum stick consists of many thinner pieces of wood, which are tied together at the center and at the bottom of the stitch. Many drummers consider rods as a golden medium between brushes and “normal” drum sticks, as rods offer a lighter, more dry sound that is particularly well suited to music where you want the sound from normal drum sticks, but at lower volumes. These drum sticks are therefore particularly widespread for acoustic concerts.

Brushes/whiskers: brushes – also known as whiskers – are an absolute classic in the jazz world, and this is almost the only genre in which these are used. Brushes have a fan-like shape, which consists of wires made of metal. The threads are adjusted from the handle of the connector, where you can pull the threads into the handle and push them out again. In this way you can change the sound and density of the plug and thus have a great influence on the sound. Some brushes are available with wires made of plastic, and these give, surprisingly, louder volumes. Many jazz drummers, however, prefer brushes with metal threads, as these often have a more clean and classic sound.

To achieve the greatest effect with brushes, one should play on a coated drum skin, as the rough texture gives a much more defined and characteristic sound. However, this is rarely a problem since the vast majority of drummers within many genres already play with coated single layer skins on the snare drum. Brushes fit well with music where you are playing at very low volume. However, you should not try to use brushes as normal drum sticks as they have very low rebound.

Mallets: mallet can be described as being a normal drum stick with a large kick drum pedal like beater on the tip. These come in many different sizes, shapes and materials. The most common materials for the skirt’s head, however, are either yarn, felt, wood, plastic and rubber. Mallets are often used to achieve a very rich sound with very little impact and almost no punch. This makes them ideal for songs where the drums and the cymbal’s tone are in focus and where the drums should be placed further back in the mix.

Drum sticks buying guide

As mentioned, it is important to take the time to choose the ideal drum stick and it is a good idea to try out a lot of different sizes and materials so you are sure you choose the right one. The sound of the drums and cymbals depends a lot on the weight of the drum stick, density and several other factors. Drummers in different genres often use different drum sticks.

The weight of the drum stick is, as previously mentioned, determined by the length, thickness, density and material of which it is made. Heavy sticks often have a broad and fuller sound on the drum set. This means that the drummer can more easily make use of the full, sonic spectrum of the drum set. From deep tones from the toms and up to light tones from the cymbals. Of course, the set’s sound spectrum depends on which sounds are at all possible to produce with the available cymbals and drums, as well as the way in which the drums have been tuned.

Lightweight drum sticks generally provide a sound that is richer in overtones and is quieter. Lightweight drum sticks are therefore very common to use if you play in smaller places such as clubs, restaurants or cafes where you want to have more control over volume. For some songs, the drummer can, however, advantageously turn the drum stick over and hit with the “rear end”, which is thicker and heavier. This gives you more power and fullness in the blows.

Jazz: Most jazz drummers use relatively light sticks, as they provide a more dynamic and subtle pelvic sound and they make it easier to play at lower volume and offer more rebound from cymbals as opposed to thick drum sticks. The obvious choice for most jazz drummers is therefore either stick in size 7a or 5a, as these are the easiest but you can still get extra power if necessary.

All round: sticks in sizes 5a and 5b make up almost all kinds of music, and 5a is the most widely used size. The two versatile sizes provide good sound dynamics, even at lower volumes, and you can still get a big, full-bodied sound out of large cymbals and rim shots on the snare drum.

Rock: for heavy rock, sticks in sizes 2a and 2b are clearly most suitable, as the very high weight gives the high volume and volume required by most rock drummers. If you play very fast fills and rhythms, it may be worth playing with size 5b drum sticks. Drums sticking in sizes 2a and 2b are very heavy and therefore make it difficult to play fast.

Metal: Heavy metal genres are often played with size 2a or 2b drum sticks. But in metal genres (progressive metal, black metal and metalcore) where, to play very fast, it may be necessary to play with lighter drum sticks. Here 5b or even 5a may be a better choice – as these offer a heavier and richer sound than size 7a – without it being impossible to keep up with the rest of the band.

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