How to Pick Your Perfect Pair!
At one time, sticks were generally "classified" into 3 categories: "A" for Orchestra/Jazz/Acoustic settings, "B" for Concert Band and "S" for Street (Marching). However, those general descriptions no longer apply across the board. Percussionists today have a wide selection of implements to create exactly the sound and feel that they desire for any given situation.
Like a chef who wouldn't dream of using a meat cleaver to dice tomatoes, a great drummer wouldn't dream of using a heavy rock stick on a jazz gig! While it will ultimately be up to you to choose the perfect stick, this article will give you some general guidelines and give you a great starting point to begin experimenting with different sticks for different applications!
HOW CAN A STICKS’ DESIGN CAN CHANGE ITS SOUND AND FEEL?
A great drumstick is the perfect combination of balance, response, feel and sound properties. Each of these critical factors is a function of a stick’s design – and knowing a little about each of these components will determine which stick might be best for you and your situation.
Great sticks for light jazz and combo playing are the 7A, 8D and 5A (with a diameter of .540" - .565").
For jazz, latin and fusion playing, the most popular stick choice is the 5A (dia. = .565"), although you might want to experiment with something a bit thicker if you find that the stick doesn't produce the volume that you need (or if you tend to break sticks easily). If that applies to you, some good sticks to try might be the 55A, F1, 1A or 3A - all have diameters at .580", but have other characteristics that affect balance and speed.
MAPLE has a fine grain pattern, producing a light, fast playing stick with the greatest amount of flex. These sticks are perfect for the artist who is playing lighter types of music or prefers a larger diameter stick without as much weight.
HICKORY has a fibrous grain pattern and is denser and more rigid than maple. A hickory stick produces less flex and is capable of withstanding a great deal of shock and stress, making it more durable.
PERSIMMON has a very close grain pattern, making it an excellent choice for a dark, bold sound with a slightly heavier weight of hickory. For this reason, persimmon sticks are a popular choice for concert snare drum.
OAK is a denser wood with a more rigid response than hickory. The natural hardness of oak produces clear, defined cymbal articulation from the tip and an incredible cross-stick tone that really cuts through.
STA-PAC® is composed of multiple thin layers of wood stacked on top of each other and finished with a hard laminate. This special laminated wood provides extreme durability and weight.
CARBON FIBER sticks are quite possibly the most durable sticks ever, lasting significantly longer than traditional wood sticks. Made from an advanced aerospace-grade carbon fiber, Vic Firth’s TITAN sticks are the first of their kind to emulate the feel of wood.
A LONG taper produces more flex and faster response.
A SHORT taper increases the size of the neck of the stick, providing more power and durability. A short tapered feels “front-end heavy.”
A MEDIUM taper provides the best balance between the butt and the tip.
WOOD tips are the most common tip material, producing a balance between full sounds and great articulation on drums and cymbals.
NYLON tips produce a brighter sound and provide increased durability.
METAL tips provide the brightest sound possible. They produce cymbal sounds that cut and carry with amazing brilliance and clarity.
DUAL TONE or SWIZZLE sticks offer a standard stick tip on one end, with a felt ball on the butt end. This provides the player with the ability to quickly switch to a soft mallet for cymbal rolls or warm tom sounds.
FELT tips allow for unique, dark sound colors across the drums & cymbals.
RUBBER tips are specifically designed for practicing, but can also produce a wide range of unique sound colors on any instrument.
LACQUER gives the player a very natural stick feel. A few sticks such as the Keith Carlock signature have heavy lacquer applied, which increases the tackiness.
PAINTED sticks have a medium amount of tackiness to the feel.
VIC GRIP is an anti-slip coating made from a thin layer of urethane applied to the gripping area of the stick, providing the most slip resistant grip.
OTHER UNIQUE QUALITIES:
Using this simple chart of the entire catalog of Vic Firth drumsticks, you can easily fine a stick that will feel great to you!