Monday, 27 February 2017

How to Select the Right Drumsticks

Tips for Drummers #4 –
How to Select the Right Drumsticks

With so many drumstick options out there, finding drum sticks that fit your playing style is an often overlooked process, as most players understandably put their focus on finding a drum set and cymbal configuration that allow the full expression of their musical personality. However, finding the right pair of sticks is no trivial matter; this is where the rubber meets the road (or the stick meets the drum). Playing with a well-balanced set of sticks that feel right will definitely help improve your playing comfort and bring out the best sounds in your kit and cymbals.

So, how do you know what type of stick to try? Do the woods used make a difference in the sound of the drum or cymbals? Do you need different size sticks for different musical applications?

Here are 2 articles we found that will answer these questions and more.

Article 1: How to Choose the Right Drum Sticks, The Hub

The traditional method of numbering drum sticks, using numbers such as 3S, 2B, 5B, 5A, and 7A, comes from the earliest days of drum stick manufacturing, when a number and letter were assigned based on the stick's size and application. The numerical part signifies the circumference of the stick. In general, the lower the number the larger the circumference, and the higher the number the smaller the circumference.
The letter suffixes "S," "B," and "A" originally indicated the recommended application. "S" model sticks were designed for "street" applications such as drum corps and marching bands. "B" model sticks were intended for "band" applications such as brass bands and symphonic orchestras. "A" stands for Orchestra. "A" model sticks were designed for big band and dance orchestras. 
Drum stick anatomy states that the butt end functions as the counterweight to the tipped end of the stick. Used in reverse to the tip, the butt end can be used for extra volume and more power.

The most popular woods used in drum stick making today include hickory, maple, and oak. Maple, the lightest wood used for drum sticks is low in density, and lends itself to lower-volume situations and light, fast playing. Hickory is by far the most popular wood used in drum stick making, and is denser, heavier, and more rigid than maple. Hickory also is excellent at absorbing shock, which reduces hand and wrist fatigue, qualities that also make hickory the wood of choice for making baseball bats. Oak is a very dense hardwood that's extremely durable, and is heavier than hickory. Some drummers seek out sticks made of exotic woods such as rosewood or bubinga.

Synthetic sticks are made of a variety of materials including polyurethane and aluminium. They are extremely durable, and some, such the 'Ahead aluminum drum sticks', have replaceable tips; something you can’t do with wooden sticks.

Stick tips come in four basic shapes, each with unique tonal qualities, and in a choice of wood or nylon. Round tips deliver a focused sound that's especially good on cymbals, ranging from the tight ping sound of small round tips to the broader, fuller tones of larger round tips. Barrel tips have a larger contact area for a broader, more diffuse tone. Pointed or triangle-tipped sticks produce a focused medium tone. Teardrop or olive-shaped tips produce a range of sounds from tightly focused to diffuse depending on how they are held. Nylon tips are popular with many drummers for their increased durability and brilliant, distinct sound, while some players prefer the softer, warmer sound of wood tips.

Article 2: How to Choose Drumsticks, By Nick D'Virgilio 

There is speculation of drums being hit by sticks from the earliest time of man, but there is real evidence from 7th-century Asia of a single-headed drum being hit by a stick. Double-headed drums being used with sticks started to make their way in the Middle Ages; moreover, in the 18th and 19th centuries, military drummers marching along in battle played a vital role. From things like providing structure for the company to march to, and signaling vital orders, drums and the tools used to hits those drums have been around for a very long time. They have grown into precision implements that come in myriad different sizes, shapes, and materials. The drumstick as we know it today has been around for less then 100 years; the nylon tip was invented in 1958. From that point to the present day drumsticks have evolved into hundreds of different styles and configurations making it possible for drummers to find their exact fit.

Most drumsticks are made out of wood; maple, hickory, and oak are the most popular wood types. These days there are synthetic materials like plastic and graphite used for sticks that help them last longer then wood sticks; they have a very different feel and sound.

Action Points

1.     Choose the right wood. The feel has to do with how the stick transmits or absorbs vibration and how much it flexes.
2.     Pick the right tip. If you like a bright attack on the cymbals, then try out a nylon-tipped drumstick. Wooden tips have a darker sound with less effect on the cymbals.
3.     Choose the shape. Smaller creates a more articulate sound while larger tips create bigger and deeper sounds.
4.     Choose the thickness as this changes the sound.

Ultimately, once you go through this process and find the right stick, you will probably never change. However, some drummers use a variety of sticks for different styles of playing. In general, heavier sticks are the obvious choice for rock and R&B styles where a strong back beat is called for. Lighter sticks tend to be favored for jazz, folk, and acoustic styles. Many drummers also like to use heavier sticks for practices than they do for their performances in order to develop strength and stamina. For playing a wide variety of styles and all-around use, 5A sticks with nylon tips are a good choice. For beginning drummers, 2B sticks are great for developing precision and technique.

Keep playing and find a good fit for your style, and remember the mantra of all great drummers: practice, practice, practice.

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