Drum Set Stick Recommendations

To be able to make drum set stick recommendations, I bought 19 different pairs of sticks from Promark, Zildjian and Vic Firth. I was looking for the perfect drum sticks to use on drum set. Well actually, I anticipated selecting 3 pair of sticks. A small lightweight combo stick, a medium general stick, and a large ensemble stick. I wanted them all to be from the same manufacturer. I had already narrowed it down and knew I was looking for a stick in the .530 – .560 diameter range with a length at or less than 16″. After a lot of playing, I think I have made a decision.

I decided to go with Vic Firth sticks and I like maple better than hickory. I like the sound of wood tips on cymbals better than nylon tips. For small combo playing I decided on Vic Firth 7A American Heritage Maple. This stick is light at a .540 diameter, has a nice teardrop tip shape for ride cymbals, and is responsive even at soft dynamic levels. For general playing I decided on the Vic Firth SD4 American Custom Maple. The SD4 is .545 in diameter with a medium taper and  a barrel tip. For large ensemble playing I decided on the Vic Firth 5A American Heritage Maple. The stick has a .565 diameter with a medium taper and a teardrop tip shape. It is a responsive stick with a full sound without feeling too heavy. These are my current drum set stick recommendations.

“…glad I took the time and spent the money…”

Amazing how much different sticks with basically the same specifications felt and played. I am really glad I took the time and spent the money to try out different models and brands and find drum set sticks I know feel good and are responsive. I went back and practiced with some of the sticks I had been using and wow what a difference. What was I thinking? I would encourage any drummer to take the time to try out different models and manufacturers of drum sticks. You might discover, as I did, that what you had been using wasn’t the best choice.

Those Numbers on the Drum Sticks

Why even bother with drum stick numbers?  What struck me on my search of drum stick manufacturer’s websites, was the wide variation in stick diameter for the exact same “standard” stick size numbers. 7A varies from .512 (Promark), .520 (Regal Tip), .525 (Zildjian) to .540 (Vater & Vic Firth). 5A varies from .551 (Promark), .560 (Zildjian), .565 (Vic Firth), .570 (Vater) to .580 (Regal Tip). I think the drumstick manufacturers should get together at a Holiday Inn somewhere and finally standardize stick numbers. They can even keep the antiquated A and B designations. They can keep different lengths and tips styles. And they can keep their unique signature series. But if you want to play a 7A – 5A – 5B – 2B etc. they should at least be really close to the same diameter from manufacturer to manufacturer.

“BE ADVISED: Pay no attention to the numbers on the sticks”

To a drummer a 7A stick which varies from .512 to .540 or a 5A stick which varies from .551 to .580 makes a real difference in feel. So if the drum stick manufacturers don’t standardize their stick specifications then BE ADVISED: Pay no attention to the numbers on the sticks. Look at the specifications for diameter and length. Stop thinking of yourself as a 5A stick drummer and start thinking of yourself as a .565 16″ stick drummer. I wonder if that is why some people favor one manufacturer over another. They’ve always played 5A and they “love” Regal Tip sticks. Maybe what they “love” is the thicker (.580) diameter of a Regal Tip 5A. So pay NO attention to the numbers on the sticks and you might discover that there are so many other sticks you should try and maybe start using.

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