Playing Without Sticks

June 14, 2010 4:17 pm in Drumset by Felipe Torres

Playing Without Sticks

From Brushes to the Kitchen Whisk

There is no doubt that drumming started with the hands, the ears, and a desire to say something with music.  Today, there are so many types of drums, cymbals and percussion instruments, that we as drummers have a ton of different sounds at our disposal.  Almost as vast is what we can hit our instruments with.

Here are a few examples of tools, other than drumsticks, that can inspire music while still playing the drums.


1. Brushes-  Great for jazz and ballads.  Soft and elegant, makes many sounds and very practical for every drummer to have.  I use the Vic Firth Jazz Brushes and Heritage Brushes for their feel, thick sound and balanced handles.

2. Mallets- From Timpani style rolls on toms to cymbal swells, these felt tipped cousins of the drumstick can give a drummer a lot more options without changing standard drumstick technique.  I prefer T2 Cartwheel Mallets for their wider surface area.


3. Swizzle Sticks/Mallets- A combination mallet/drumstick that are very usual for quick changes.  The TG25′s are always near by in my stick bag.

4. Multi-Dowel Sticks- Softer thank sticks but with a stronger attack than brushes, this family of sticks can really be a life saver in a quick but rock setting.  The Rutes are my favorite, for their feel, attack, and the wooden handle makes a great rim click sound.


5. Shaker/tambourine Sticks- Anything from egg shakers taped to a stick or brush, to a mallet with some rattling effects, these types of sticks can add a lot of color to any groove and cover those percussion parts that we might normally need another drummer for.  Lately, Vic Firth Maraca Mallet has been a great add to my studio sound arsenal.

6. Kitchen Whisk- That’s right, I may not be a chef, but a whisk can definitely “mix” it up when looking for new and interesting sounds. (Maybe one day, Vic Firth Gourmet will run a hybrid cooking/drumming whisk!)

  • Feel free to write in and share your preferred equipment and how they have enhanced your drumming.
  • For more examples, please check out my video and more at