Playing the drums can be tough if you don’t have the right sticks at your disposal. Even if you are a beginner, you must be aware that drumsticks break all the time, with some splitting in half after just one session. Hence, you must choose drumsticks that offer impeccable durability, feel comfortable in your hands, and have a slip-resistant grip that ensures you are able to play with superb accuracy. The best cheap drumsticks in 2021 have been picked by our team for their superb wooden build quality, brilliant ergonomic design, anti-slip finishing, and some even come with a carry bag for enhanced portability.
Found the drum sticks but still in need of everything else? Take a look at our Drums & Percussion section for everything you need to jam out.
Whether you’re a novice drummer or a pro, having the right drumsticks is crucial to crushing your songs. With so many choices to pick from, we know that buying the right drumsticks for you can be a daunting task, so our buying guide is here to help you make sense of everything you need to know.
What are types of drumsticks?
There are four main types of drumsticks: sticks, mallets, brushes, and rods.
When you think of drumsticks, you most likely think of sticks. This is the most commonly used drumstick. For professionals, companies might make them customized, but in most cases, they come pretty basic and standardized. These work great for typical drum sets.
Mallets are similar to basic sticks, but at the end, they feature a ball of cotton or yarn. You’ll most often find mallets being used with percussion instruments, such as the xylophone, but you can even use them with cymbals to create a more unique sound.
Brushes look the most unlike other types of drumsticks. They contain a bunch of plastic or wired strands which join at a handle. They can be used on traditional drums by either striking them on or sweeping them against the drum; they can even be used on cymbals. The major difference is that they produce a quiet, soft sound effect.
The last type of drumstick is the rod. If you’re looking to create a sound that’s softer than the strike of a stick but louder than the hit of a brush, a rod offers a great middle level. They are made of several thin sticks held together by a band. The band can even be adjusted to change the tone the rod will produce.
That’s all the main types of drumsticks, but there are still different aspects of drumsticks that you need to consider when making your final choice.
Choosing a drumstick
Before you choose a drumstick, start by considering a few things.
Drumsticks come in a number of different sizes. The size of a drumstick is labeled by both a letter and a number. The letter indicates the application of the stick, while the number indicates the circumference of the stick. The most common drumstick numbers are two, five, and seven, but you can find them in other numbers. The lower the number, though, the thicker the stick will be. You can get drumsticks with the letter A, B, and S. A sticks are great for jazz or orchestra, as they are ideal for lower-volume situations. B sticks are used by many rock drummers, while S sticks are great for situations like marching bands because they are heavy. Heavier sticks provide greater sound and punch, but they might not be as easy to hold as thinner sticks, which you’ll be able to be more technical with.
Another thing you’ll need to consider is what your drumstick is made out of. They are made out of a number of different materials, which can affect how they sound against your drums. The most common material is hickory, which produces a reliable and consistent sound. Oak is also used and it provides great momentum and rebound, great for intense playing styles. It is heavier and denser than hickory, so it will also last you longer. If you’re trying to produce fast and complex sounds, maple is a great material because it is both light and flexible. Not all sticks are made out of wood, though. Some are made from synthetic materials, such as metal or plastic. The benefit of synthetic materials is that they tend to offer more control over sound than wood does.
Not only is the material of drumsticks different, but there can be different tip types as well. The shape and material of tips can impact the sound you’ll produce, so you’ll want to keep that in mind too when choosing a stick.
There are five main tip shapes: oval, ball, barrel, teardrop, and acorn. Oval will give you the most versatility in sound, If you’re looking for a crisp and bright sound, then a ball shape will serve you well. A barrel shape is great if you’re looking to produce a loud and punchy sound, while a teardrop shape will create warm but low tones. Last but not least, an acorn shape will produce a full, rich sound.
Not only are there different shapes, but tips are made out of two common materials: wood and nylon. Nylon tips create a brighter sound than wood tips, which create a warm and full sound. Nylon tips are also extremely durable and will last you much longer than wooden tips.
There are many different combinations of drumsticks that you can get, but at the end of the day, you’ll find that some drumsticks might be better for you than others.
Why should you buy a new pair of drumsticks?
You can never have too many pairs of drumsticks on hand, especially if you tend to misplace them. If you like to play different musical styles on your drums, then having different drumsticks on hand can help you change up the sound you produce by hitting the drums. It’s also a good idea to have extra drumsticks on hand because they can wear out pretty quickly depending on a few factors. If you play aggressively and intensely, then how you hit the drums might cause your sticks to wear out relatively quickly. What’s more, the angle at which you hit the drum can affect the wear and tear on your drumsticks. You might find yourself needing a new pair every month or so. What you’re hitting also impacts the wear and tear of drumsticks. For example, cymbals tend to cause damage to drumsticks because of the angle you’re hitting them at. What’s required here to decide if you need a new pair of drumsticks is understanding of how you play, if you play multiple styles of music, and how aggressively you play.
If you are a drummer still looking for a drum set, check out our favorites here.
By Derek Sautter
Derek is a professional musician who specializes in percussion and works with the independent WGI group Cap City Percussion. With a Bachelors of Music from Capital University, specializing in Music Industry studies, he consistently finds himself playing and teaching percussion to anyone who has the will to learn. Derek is also a former member of DCI groups Legends (2014-15) and Colts (2016-18); he is also the percussion technician and instructor of the drum line at Olentangy High School. You may find him playing a gig throughout the greater Columbus, Ohio area.