different types of drum sticks

There are so many different types of drum sticks, choosing drum sticks can seem like a daunting task, Even if you've spent a few years on the drum throne. It can be downright overwhelming to a new drummer. If you're about to just pick some at random out of frustration, relax we can help.

If you're a beginner, you likely haven't developed your own playing style or preference for one type of drum stick over another. If that's the case, a good choice would be a wood size 5A stick. It's an average size that is suitable for most music.

Drum stick sizes are a little backwards. For example, 2B sticks are the thickest you can get, while 7A are among the thinnest. But the dimensions aren't standardized across different stick manufactures.

There are all types of drum sticks available. If you're not already familiar with the anatomy of a drum stick, check the diagram below.

The Tip

Drum stick tips can come in different shapes which will produce different sounds on the drums and cymbals. Some are made of plastic which produces a higher pitch "ping" sort of sound.

The Taper

Drum stick taper will vary in length and sometimes curvature.

The Shaft

Drum stick shafts will vary in length and thickness, (where the number in the size comes from)

The Butt

Drum stick butts can vary in shape and some are shaped like a second tip for playability from either end.

different types of drum stick tips

Tip shape affects the sound produced by the stick. This is more obvious on cymbals than on drumheads. The rule of thumb is that the less of the tip's surface area that makes contact, the more defined the sound, and visa-versa. For example, round tips will produce the sharpest, most defined sound of them all. The flatter tips, less so.

Nylon, or plastic drum stick tips produce a more 'pingy' sound, than wood tips as mentioned. The author must note that he has had a problem with them coming loose and flying off the stick in the past. It might just be the way I play, and you might not have that problem.

the Drum stick taper

The length of the taper, sometimes called the shoulder, will affect the rebound of the stick and thus the response as well as the durability of the stick.

Go with a longer taper for lighter, quicker styles of playing where response may be more important than durability.

Choose a shorter taper for heavier styles of playing and music.

A medium length taper is more versatile and will be a better choice for new drummers, or players who switch between styles often.

the drum stick shaft

The size of the stick is derived from the length and thickness of the shaft. 

5A is the standard

3A are longer and thicker than a 5A 

5B are similar in length to a 5A, but thicker still than a 3A

7A are thin sticks that are common in jazz playing

8D are like a longer 7A

1A are the longest sticks available

2B are the thickest sticks available, popular with heavy hitters

Some drummers choose to practice with a heavier stick, like a 2B, so that when it comes time to play normally, it feels easier and less tiring.

Which of the different types of drum sticks is for you? Generally the lighter the style of music, the thinner, lighter the stick and so on. The heavier the music, the thicker, heavier the stick. Again, if you're new to drumming, don't go for the biggest sticks available, you may injure yourself if you're not use to them yet. instead, stick with a middle of the road stick like a 5A.

the drum stick butt

The butt of the drum stick is usually rounded and not meant to be played with. However, some drummers like to flip the stick over in one hand while they're playing for a heavier backbeat on the snare. If the stick you're using has a flatter butt end, this could damage your snare head while your playing. Only do this if your butt is rounded enough to not put dents in your drum heads. (there is so much innuendo on this page).

different drum stick materials

Wooden drum sticks are by far the most common, but even then, there are a few types of wood that can be used,

Oak              -  the heaviest and most durable, great for hard hitters

Maple         -  sticks are on the opposite end of the spectrum because of it's lightness

Hickory     - is somewhere in the middle because it's a nice balance of both

You may come across other kinds of hardwoods being used, but these are the most common.

Some other different types of drum sticks are composite drum sticks, like carbon fiber, or even resin drum sticks can be found. These may be more expensive, but there main selling point is their durability with some being touted as "unbreakable". That should not be a challenge.

If you're a heavy hitter, letting the sticks take the brunt of your playing and absorb the impact will eventually cause them to break, but sticks are much cheaper than cymbals and the larger heads. Food for thought.

Metal drum sticks are also a thing. Some people use these for practice pad use only. The weight can be used to build endurance and strength, but be careful you don't hurt yourself. Personally, I would not recommend playing on your drums and cymbals with them, but that's just me. Seriously, are you so mad at your drums you need to hit them that hard? Do they owe you money?

If you still feel the need to beat the holy baloney out of your drums, there are drumheads for heavy hitters and heavy-duty cymbals you can invest in.

A video  drum stick primer from the vic Firth channel

Other different types of drum sticks

Yes folks, yet more different types of drum sticks.

Noise reducing drum sticks 

These do just what they say. They are designed to reduce the vibration and impact on the drums and cymbals, reducing the overall noise...I mean music you're making. Get yourself some quiet drum sticks and your neighbors will thank you. 

Reduced vibration drum sticks

These have a hollowed-out shaft and are easier on surfaces that have little rebound. It's thought that these are the best drumsticks for electronic drums for that reason.

Weighted drumsticks

These are usually hollowed out and have a core of some kind of metal and are generally used to strengthen the wrist and arm muscles while practicing.

Lighted drum sticks

You guessed it, these light up. They might not feel quite like regular sticks and they won't come in a variety of sizes, but they will spice up your stage show. Glowing drumsticks do look cool.

Drum anywhere sticks

These are digital sticks that have sensors in them that can sense where you're swinging them. Sometimes they come with sensors for your feet and you can replicate the sounds of a full drum set without a drum set. Obviously they won't feel or play like the real thing, but you'll be a hit at the beach or at parties. When your friend pulls out his/her/their acoustic guitar, you won't have to just stand there, you can join in.

If you're like me and have a habit of dropping sticks while you're playing or have sweaty palms, a few manufactures make sticks with a rubber coating on the non-business end that helps you keep your grip. You can also get some drumstick grip tape.

Still more different types of drum sticks include;

Drum brushes, very popular in jazz music. They produce a long 'swishy' sound.

Multi rod sticks, like the popular hot rod drumsticks. These are pretty much bundled thin dowels that produce a unique sound.

Nylon drum brushes that are a combination of the above

Mallets, mallet drum sticks have a very different sound and are perfect for certain musical situations.

I'm sure I'm missing a few other different types of drum sticks here. Heck even long wooden spoons can be used to play in a pinch.

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