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Thread: Very basic question about sticks

  1. #1

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    Default Very basic question about sticks

    I'm a beginner - as in, only just picked up some sticks for the first time and starting to learn - so this is probably something that seems obvious to everyone here. But as my local music shop was unwilling to help a girl, perhaps you could tell me?

    I was looking at the sticks in the shop; I only wanted the cheapest ones I could find, at this stage, but I'm the curious type and wanted to see what there was for future knowledge. But there were so many different types and styles and I was wondering about them. What is the difference between plastic and wood - does it change the volume, or how hard you have to hit, or is it just about durability? What about the different types of wood - does that have any effect? And are the different thicknesses for different styles of music, or different volumes, or is it just all about the size of the drummer's hands?

    Thanks!

  2. #2

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    Default Re: Very basic question about sticks

    Welcome to Drum Chat Allandra, and shame on that music store for not supporting a female drummer!

    Your question will actually be a bit more complex than it might appear. Stick come in a lot of different sizes, shapes, and material. The sticks that are most commonly used are made of hickory, which is hard enough to withstand the pounding that they take on the edges of cymbals and on the rims of the drums. Another fairly common material is alluminum. Ahead drumsticks are preferred by some drummers because they last longer than wood sticks (yes, they wear away over time), but they are also more expensive. The Ahead sticks can also help drummers that have developed wrist issues, because they are lighter.

    When you buy sticks, make sure you roll them on a flat surface before you buy them to make sure that they are evenly round. If they are out of round, you might feel it when you play. As to sizes, here are the most common:

    2B - usually considered a Classic Rock stick. It is heavier, and thicker.
    5B - a good all around stick, lighter than the 2B, and not as thick.
    5A - Also good all around size, and slightly less thick than the 5B, also slightly lighter.
    7A - Smaller and lighter still, this is a good size for Jazz playing, although some drummers use this stick for all styles.

    The tip of the stick will also effect the sound. Some sticks have a nylon tip, and some prefer this because it gives a more defined sound when playing the cymbals. Others prefer the wood tip because the cymbals sound warmer when played with a wood tip. The shape of the tip also effects the sound, but I thiink I should stop here, because I have probably confused you enough for now.

    Again. welcome!
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  3. #3

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    Default Re: Very basic question about sticks

    I think PB summed it up rather well.

    The 2B sticks might be a good choice for you for now only because you are just beginning. They are a larger diameter and generally a bit easier to hold when you are just starting out.These are usually the ones your band director will have you use when you are in school playing with the concert band.

    As far as the nylon tip vs. the wood tip .....its all personal preference on what type of sound your ears like best.......for me, I like the response I get from the nylon, jazz musicians will go for a lighter stick with a wood tip for that nice warm sound.

    Welcome to the board and happy hunting for the perfect stick.
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  4. #4

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    Default Re: Very basic question about sticks

    Welcome to the site Allandra. As both Bob and gonefishin have pointed out this is an area where you will need to try some different sticks and see what fits you best. I do not know if you have picked up a practice pad yet, but they are great for starting out. Allows you to work on the rudiments and get a feel for how the sticks react to you.
    All the best as you start down this wonderful path.
    STACK57

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  5. #5

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    Default Re: Very basic question about sticks

    Thanks for the explanation PB, that cleared it up for me. Gonefishin, thank you for the advice; I will certainly keep it in mind. And Stack, I picked up a cheap practise pad when I was in the shop, having read the same thing on a 'learn to play' website.

    Thank you all for the help!

  6. #6

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    Default Re: Very basic question about sticks

    Welcome to the site! I definitely agree with what everyone's been saying here so far, but one thing that I think has been implied but not said outright is that often you will choose what sticks to use for each occasion. For example, I use 5a wood tips when I play with my indie rock band, but when I go to a blues jam or something where I have to play much quieter I use 7a wood tips instead. You can have a selection in your gig bag to draw from, you don't have to pick one type of stick forever.
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  7. #7

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    Default Re: Very basic question about sticks

    That makes a lot of sense; thanks for the information!

  8. #8

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    Default Re: Very basic question about sticks

    Hi Allandra! Take a look at the stick makers web sites. They usually have a little education section about stick sizes, models, etc. Try Vic Firth, ProMark, Vater, etc. If you google "drum stick makers" you should get a list of many of them. Welcome and good luck.

  9. #9

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    Default Re: Very basic question about sticks

    Quote Originally Posted by dt344 View Post
    Welcome to the site! I definitely agree with what everyone's been saying here so far, but one thing that I think has been implied but not said outright is that often you will choose what sticks to use for each occasion. For example, I use 5a wood tips when I play with my indie rock band, but when I go to a blues jam or something where I have to play much quieter I use 7a wood tips instead. You can have a selection in your gig bag to draw from, you don't have to pick one type of stick forever.
    Oh so very true.

    Something Allandra could also do is see if any friends play drums and ask to check out what types of sticks they are using. This will give you a good comparison to see what you like and dis-like.
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  10. #10

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    Default Re: Very basic question about sticks

    I was wondering how many people use the same stick for practice, playing, whether its jazz, rock, metal, or do you have a bunch a different sticks for certain types of music? Just curious.

  11. #11

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    Default Re: Very basic question about sticks

    Welcome to Drum Chat warrier!

    I have different sticks, but that is mostly because I was trying out different sticks to find the one that felt best to me. I have only been playing about 3 years now, so I tend to stick to the 5A stick for everything now, just because I am learning so many different things that I want consistency in the feel of the stick. Learning patterns is all about muscle memory, so for me, switching back and forth to a lighter or heavier stick while I am learning to control the bounce of the stick would simply add an additional level to the learning. I can do that later, but for now I want consistency of feel.
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  12. #12

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    well thk u sir for the response, i have a bunch of different sticks i'm trying myself, what I don't get is one day i will use a thick 5b and get around the set great, the next time, it seem i can't move at all, and i will use a thinner or lighter stick, other times I will practice on a pad and fly through rudiments,when i get on the drums it seems it doesnt have the bounce as the pad, I dont know must me, I guess keep on practicing with 1 stick and use that for everything, thks again, take care.

  13. #13

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    Default Re: Very basic question about sticks

    A quick observation on nylon vs. wood tipped: I prefer the sound of the wood tip so thats what I use but if you are just starting out, nylon might be the way to go because occasionally the wood tips can chip or crack slightly which can ruin an otherwise still useful stick. The nylon tips won't do that.

    For stick sizing I use a 5B stick for playing on the practice pad and for warmups but once I get into my practice or jam session I switch to 5A. 5A is lighter and when you start out with the heavier stick and switch to a lighter one it feels super light. That might help with the speed issues. Also, using a heavier stick when practicing can help build your chops as they require a little more effort to use; especially on a rubber pad with a ton of bounce. This again will let you play faster once you switch back to a lighter stick and back to the drum set.

  14. #14

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    Welcome to Drum Chat Jeff!
    Quoting gonefishin: Just have some bacon with ya when you go pick her up..........youre an instant chick magnet.


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  15. #15

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    i love the sound of a nynon tip on a ride. vic firth 5a nylon, been playing them for 16 years, although the nylon tips will split apart once in a while
    MAPEX MAFIA

  16. #16

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    Default Re: Very basic question about sticks

    I swap and change.

    7A for Jazz/Lounge stuff, and for playing rock stuff quieter.
    5A General purpose.
    5B Rock stuff when it's got to be loud!
    Often also, 5A Right hand, 5B left hand if I'm playing reasonable loud solid Rock stuff. I like to have a slightly heavier stick in my left hand, and when I buy a new batch of sticks, I will go through them all to find out which one FEELS heaviest, then mark this with a permanent marker and I will always have this in my left hand. (Sorry to the drum companies that spend so much on matching sticks in pairs.)

    A lot depends on the size of your hands. All I can say is try a few different sizes of sticks, and definitely use a different shop if they're not willing to help you.

    Cheers

    Andy

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Very basic question about sticks

    I actually have a spare pare of Ahead's (Mudvayne) that was given to me for a Christmas Present as a back up.

    I have a selection of 5b Nylons for warmups.

    I play with 7A Nylons consistently really. I do have a pair of woodtipped ones for when it's just my guitarist and I on his accoustic.

    I went from playing Metal to a Hard/Alt Rock. I used the 5b, and Rock Nylons to play at first, but then switched to 7A.

    Go for what feels, and sounds good. Remember, you'll play better when you're comfortable.

  18. #18

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    Default Re: Very basic question about sticks

    Welcome to Drum Chat Fullstop!
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