Trivial Trivia – Drumsticks

My dad was shopping at a music store for drumsticks for his drummer friend, when he was told some words of wisdom: Don’t, rather, never buy drumsticks for someone else. Drumsticks to a drummer are as personal as say, a handphone to you; only you know what you want in a handphone. So a drummer needs to pick out his own drumsticks to get the right “feel”, and to create the right sounds for the right type of music.

Balance, response and “feel” shapes the perfect drumstick. There are many contributing factors to decide on when choosing drumsticks. American musician Everett Firth, founder of Vic Firth Company which makes percussion sticks and mallets, has laid out these information about choosing the perfect pair:

1)      The thickness of the drumstick needs to match the style of music you are going to play, and the volume in which you intend to play

For example, light jazz music will do well with a thin stick, while the marching band needs a much thicker stick. A drumstick’s shaft thickness affects its overall weight, projection and strength; thinner sticks play faster and create lighter sounds on drums and cymbals, and thicker sticks will offer power and projection.

 

2)      The “feel” of the drum sticks is in the amount of taper and the location of the shoulder

A long taper produces a faster response, but the downside is the loss of power and durability especially if you are a heavy-hitter.

A short taper is stiffer but offers additional strength and durability.

A medium taper provides the best balance and helps make it feel balanced between the hand and the tip.

 

3)      Tip shape:

Picture Credit: http://vicfirth.com/drumstick-anatomy/

The shape and size of the tip gives different characteristics to the overall sound on the drums and cymbals.

A large tip with a very large surface area creates a dark, rich sound while a small tip with a very small surface area produces a light sound with clear definition.

 

4)     Tip material:

Picture credit: http://vicfirth.com/drumstick-anatomy/

Different materials produce different sound colours and varying degrees of articulation:

Wood tips produce a balance between full sounds and great articulation

Nylon tips produce the clearest articulation and the brightest tone

Swizzle sticks (a standard stick tip on one end, and a felt ball on the butt end) allow for the drummer to quickly switch to a soft mallet for cymbal rolls or warm tom sounds

 

5)      The length of the drumstick affects its leverage and reach around the drum set

A longer stick will feel “front heavy”, giving the drummer more leverage and power, whereas a short stick will feel like its weight is pushed back towards the hand.

 

6)      The stick material has a unique effect on the response, sound, flexibility and durability

Maple and Hickory are considered the best wood for all-around play. Other non-wood materials (such as carbon fibre or metal) may offer more durability, but may also deliver undue shock to a drummer’s wrists and arms, resulting in sore muscles.

 

7)      The surface coating of a drumstick affects how it feels in your hands:

Lacquer-less sticks, sometimes called “unfinished”, absorb perspiration and change the feel as the drumstick ages.

Lacquered sticks give drummers a natural feel, but increases the tackiness.

Painted sticks are similar to lacquered sticks. But depending on the way perspiration absorbs into the paint, the drumstick may feel more tacky or more slippery during play.

Drumsticks coated with anti-slip around the gripping area of the drumstick provides the most slip-resistance.

 

You can read the original article in depth here: Drumstick Anatomy: How To Pick Your Perfect Pair. In deciding on your companion for drumming, remember that it is important to test, try, and experiment with various sticks until you find the best fit.

 

Now that you’re armed with the knowledge about drumsticks, why not enrol in drumming classes? It is offered here at Bloom School of Music & Arts from just $170 a month. Come speak with us to find out more, or fill up our Online Form and allow us to get back to you.

 

Here’s ending this trivia with an awesome performance by one of Bloom’s students, Jia Shuen, during our Bloom is 5! Carnival in 2015.