How to Choose Drumsticks

There are plenty of internet resources that discuss the process of choosing drumsticks. But this is GospelChops. You’re reading this because you know that we do things differently and this blog post shouldn’t disappoint that notion.

I don’t want to leave you without any technical context because I recognize that someone might be helped by such information. However, I’ll make it short and sweet to match it’s relevance to the discussion.

5A Drumsticks

With all of the custom and signature drumsticks on the market, the 5A is still the most popular drumstick on the market. In fact, if you’re undecided on the best drumstick for you, the 5A is a great drumstick to start with. From there, you can go bigger or smaller, thicker or thinner, until you discover your perfect drumstick.

What’s the best wood choice?

Answer: There isn’t a universal “best” wood choice for drumsticks. Too many variables exist to make such a sweeping statement. But important factors to consider are music genre (gospel, pop, jazz, ect.), playing style (smooth, aggressive, ect.), and other gear.

For example, if you play gospel music, you’ll need a durable wood for those high praise moments, yet, it can’t be so heavy that it tempts you to play harder during hymns. You definitely don’t want to change sticks for every song and risk disconnecting from the flow of the service. On the flip side, if you’re naturally a soft hitter or a smaller child, heavier sticks might give you that extra heft that you need to sit well in the mix.

But drumsticks don’t make noise on their own. You have to hit things, which begs further questioning: Are your drum heads heavier or dual-ply? Are your cymbals thin? All of these factors complicate a seemingly simple inquiry but are necessary for proper decision-making.

Oak tends to be heavier. Laminated Birch is less common, but also heavier.
Maple tends to be lighter and more fragile. Hickory is popular because it’s typically not too heavy, yet durable enough for aggressive drumming. Which is best for you? The one that feels right.

Wood tip or nylon?

Answer: Who cares? You can make crisp, articulate sounds with wood tips just like you can make darker, muted sounds with a nylon tip. It’s not about the tip as much as it’s about the stroke. Focus on improving your technique and eventually the tip of your stick will matter less and less. This sentiment also applies to tip shape. Which one is best for you? The one that feels right.

What’s the best stick size?

Answer: What size is your hand? How long are your arms? What is your typical throne height? I hate to answer a question with more questions, but as you can see, a drummer’s stick choice is so personal that it’s almost pointless to ask someone else to influence your decision. There’s certainly no need to complicate the issue like drumstick manufacturers tend to do. If you have big hands, a bigger stick may be more comfortable. If you have smaller hands, a smaller stick might suit you better, but this is not always the case. Keep in mind that with all of the different stick dimensions on the market, the 5A is still the top selling drumstick globally. Which one is best for you? The one that feels right.

The ultimate message that I want to convey to drummers is that you do yourself a disservice by focusing on menial issues such as this. Your time would be better spent on topics like rudiments, timing, dynamics, and creativity. If you can master technique, you’ll eventually be able to adjust your playing to almost any gear.

But remember, as you search to discover which drumsticks feel best to you, no specs, no descriptions, and no recommendations can replace actually holding them in your hands and hitting drums. Play them. Play lots of them and don’t be in a rush to settle on a particular drumstick. Try different sticks in different musical situations. Experiment!

Look, your drumsticks are an extension of your arms. They should be so comfortable that you don’t even think about them while playing. Your focus should be on expressing yourself musically and the best drumsticks on Earth (if they existed) couldn’t do that for you. So as you search and scour through woods, shapes, tips, weights, and any other mundane criteria, keep in mind that the best drumsticks for you are the ones that feel the best to you. No one can make that decision for you. Good luck!

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