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Review: Best Drum Stick

Drumsticks are made in multiple lengths but most fall between 15 to 17-inches with the most distinguishing feature being the amount of taper between the shaft and the tip. Sticks vary in diameter, weight, and usually available in sizes between 2B (large) and 7A (small). Drumsticks come fitted with either wood or nylon tips with the most common tip shapes being round, barrel, and teardrop. Most drumsticks are made from wood for better control when performing basic and advanced techniques; some companies also craft sticks from alternate materials like metal and plastic. Additionally, many companies produce signature drumsticks designed to meet the specifications of professional drummers. For more help selecting the best drum sticks for your style of play, check out our list for the best drumsticks in 2021 and the buyers guide below.

Best Drum Sticks of 2021 Reviewed in Detail

Vater American Hickory Pro Rock Drum Sticks - Best Drum Sticks Overall

Vater’s Pro Rock sticks are slightly thinner than most rock sticks but still have the necessary length to achieve a good amount of power. The smaller shaft makes them lightening fast, great for fills and feels amazing for Rock because these sticks don’t take a lot of effort to create a big sound. They can really drive a band while the thin shafts are versatile enough for other genres. These sticks have oval tips which draw a big sound from anything they hit and durable enough to resist chipping. Even with the thinner shaft, a single pair will last you a long time.

Vic Firth American Classic Drum Sticks 2B - Runner Up

Vic Firth’s 2B drumsticks are a little thicker and a bit shorter than most other Rock drumsticks. Choose these when your hands are feeling fatigued and you need something a bit easier to control than a longer pair drumsticks. The fatter shafts give them a lot of power and they’re balanced to feel a bit bottom heavy. Since they’re shorter than normal sticks, I feel like I can control these sticks with less effort. I usually only use these sticks for Rock music, but other notable drummers have used them for Jazz. The overall shape of these sticks is ideal for building technique, so they’re recommend for use by students. They have a teardrop tip creating an articulate attack on cymbals and a big sound on drumheads making these sticks great for any setting requiring a lot of sound production.

Vater Percussion 1A Drumsticks - Most Quiet

The 17” length gives these Vater’s 1A drumsticks a lot of power making them ideal for Heavy Rock or even Metal. The shafts aren’t too thick but they produce a lot of volume along with a late taper adding bulk for rim-shots and crash cymbals. Even with the added length, these sticks feel very light making them very easy to control while helping you maintain endurance over the course of a gig. They have an acorn tip which produces clean bounces and buzz strokes and these durable sticks can actually be used as a rudimental snare drum stick because of the length and balance.

Vic Firth Jack DeJohnette Signature Drum Sticks - Consider

Jack DeJohnette will go down in history as one of the top Jazz drummers of all time and his signature sticks produced by Vic Firth are the most unique sticks available for Jazz. Superior to all other Jazz sticks, they’re sized similar to Vic Firth 5A but a bit longer with a medium taper (feeling like a late taper because of the length.) While bigger than typical 5A sticks, they also feel much lighter. Their signature white finish allows you to locate them easily in a stick bag and gives them a smooth feel in hand. Their unpainted teardrop tip won’t leave paint marks on drumheads and they’re also some of the most durable sticks you can own. Their great feel and exceptional cymbal sound make these the best overall pair of drumsticks for Jazz you can buy.

Vic Firth American Classic 8D Drum Sticks - Best Drum Sticks for Jazz

Vic Firth’s 8D sticks are basically 7As with extra length making them feel more significant in the hand than 7A sticks (which can sometimes feel like toys.) The small size is very appropriate for Jazz music because it keeps movements small and controlled, allowing you to really play out during fills without letting the volume get out of hand. The teardrop tip sounds great on the ride cymbal, especially on the snare drum and these sticks work great for heavy hitters looking to lighten their sound for Jazz music. More durable than most thin sticks, with the Vic Firth name you know you’re getting nothing but quality and consistency.

Vater Manhattan 7A Drum Sticks - Best Drum Sticks for Jazz

Vater’s Manhattan 7A drumsticks are longer than most 7A drumsticks but still have a light Jazz feel. Their round tips are different than most 7A sticks allowing for detailed snare playing, sound great on the ride cymbal and they help to smooth out buzz rolls common in Jazz fills. They have a mellow sound on the toms and seem to embrace the head with each stroke; the impact doesn’t feel as harsh, but you still feel a strong sense of control.

These drumsticks are less flexible than most Jazz sticks so they’re ideal for technical players. Vater sticks are some of the most durable drumsticks available and mine seem to last longer than other brands with their tips not chipping as much. The longer size and round tip makes these some of the most unique drumsticks on the market.

Vic Firth American Classic Drum Sticks 5A Wood Tip - Best Drum Sticks for Jazz

Vic Firth’s 5A drumsticks are probably the most versatile and popular sticks available; particularly nice for Jazz yet feel great in any musical genre. These sticks are the perfect “medium” stick, because they aren’t too big nor are they too small with a teardrop tip for the ideal sound on drums and cymbals. I like these because they produce more of a controlled sound than smaller Jazz sticks. There’s enough weight to allow drummers to execute advanced rudimental passages which sound great in jazz fills. Vic Firth creates some of the best quality sticks around so you can be sure each pair of these you pick up will be consistently great.

Promark Hickory 747 Rock Wood Tip Drumsticks - Best Drum Sticks for Metal

747 drumsticks are great for Metal music because they’re fast and loud while lasting longer than other brands. They feel very light for sticks which produce so much volume, and are similar to a 5A stick in shaft girth but have a thicker taper. They’re also a little longer than typical 5A drumsticks for producing a lot of volume. The large oval tips draw full tones from drums and cymbals as well as being resilient to breaking even when subjected to the most violent Metal playing. Fast, loud, and durable, these sticks are simply great for playing Metal.

Vater Percussion Power 5A Wood Tip Drum Sticks - Best Drum Sticks for Metal

Vater’s durable Power 5A drumsticks are thicker than the average 5A and a bit longer with a solid, dense feel in the hand. While these sticks seem to be a bit top-heavy, this balance works well for fills and fast playing. Their round tips really cuts through on cymbals, producing a more pointed attack than sticks with oval tips. The Power 5A sticks are also available with nylon tips but I prefer the sound of wood tips. These sticks are also versatile enough to use for other genres of music because they’re not too big.

Vic Firth X55A Extreme 55A Wood Tip Drumsticks - Best Drum Sticks for Metal

Vic Firth’s Extreme 55A is a combination of a 5A and a 5B; a meaty stick with enough thickness for Metal music. They’re 16.5” long for extra volume, but still can be controlled. These sticks are very light with a hollow feel making them great for fast playing. The tear drop tip of the drumsticks delivers a pointed attack on cymbals along with a medium taper which feels great for Metal as well as all genres of music. The great overall balance and even weight makes these a great pick for metal drummers everywhere.

Ahead FatBeat Medium Taper Sticks Black Tip 5A - Best Drum Sticks for Metal

Ahead’s FatBeat 5A drumsticks are the best sticks for Metal players constantly breaking sticks and are sick of buying replacements. These all-metal sticks feel a lot different than their wooden counterparts because they don’t have a natural bounce and feel very light so you don’t need to work hard to create a lot of volume.
Aheads Fatbeat 5As are actually thinner than the other sticks I’d recommend for Metal, but create a lot of sound because of their all-metal manufacture. While they can’t be broken with normal use, these sticks can be bent but they feature replaceable plastic tips and a plastic covering wrapping around the shafts. If you can get used to the feel, these are the best sticks for Metal music.

Vater Percussion Power 5A Wood Tip Drum Sticks - Best Drum Sticks for Metal

Vater’s durable Power 5A drumsticks are thicker than the average 5A and a bit longer with a solid, dense feel in the hand. While these sticks seem to be a bit top-heavy, this balance works well for fills and fast playing. Their round tips really cuts through on cymbals, producing a more pointed attack than sticks with oval tips. The Power 5A sticks are also available with nylon tips but I prefer the sound of wood tips. These sticks are also versatile enough to use for other genres of music because they’re not too big.

Promark Hickory 747 Rock Wood Tip Drumsticks - Best Drum Sticks for Metal

747 drumsticks are great for Metal music because they’re fast and loud while lasting longer than other brands. They feel very light for sticks which produce so much volume, and are similar to a 5A stick in shaft girth but have a thicker taper. They’re also a little longer than typical 5A drumsticks for producing a lot of volume. The large oval tips draw full tones from drums and cymbals as well as being resilient to breaking even when subjected to the most violent Metal playing. Fast, loud, and durable, these sticks are simply great for playing Metal.

Vic Firth American Classic Rock Drum Sticks - Best Durable Drum Sticks

Vic Firth Rock drumsticks are dependable, heavy-duty drumsticks. Almost impossible to break because of their extreme thickness, these weighty sticks are great for heavy Rock and slower Metal tunes. They’re also great sticks for practicing because their grips don’t fade. They have a very short taper which can withstand heavy rim-shots while the rock solid oval tips will not chip on you.

Ahead FatBeat Medium Taper Sticks Black Tip 5A - Best Drum Sticks for Metal

Ahead’s FatBeat 5A drumsticks are the best sticks for Metal players constantly breaking sticks and are sick of buying replacements. These all-metal sticks feel a lot different than their wooden counterparts because they don’t have a natural bounce and feel very light so you don’t need to work hard to create a lot of volume.
Aheads Fatbeat 5As are actually thinner than the other sticks I’d recommend for Metal, but create a lot of sound because of their all-metal manufacture. While they can’t be broken with normal use, these sticks can be bent but they feature replaceable plastic tips and a plastic covering wrapping around the shafts. If you can get used to the feel, these are the best sticks for Metal music.

Vic Firth SSG Steve Gadd Signature Wood Tip Drumsticks - Best Durable Drum Sticks

Vic Firth’s Steve Gadd signature drumsticks are extremely versatile and while it’s rare to find barrel tips which don’t chip, these certainly last a long time; they’re actually a bit shorter making them less likely to chip. These tips are denser than longer barrel tips but still have a great sound. A special black coating protects the shafts from dents and while the sticks themselves are fairly short this prevents them from breaking as easily. The sticks also have a medium taper which has a nice balanced feel in your hand. These sticks can be used for almost any genre of music and are durable enough to last any drummer for a long time.

Buyer's Guide

 

Drumstick Buyer’s Guide

Choosing the right drumsticks can be a daunting task but the following buyer’s guide is structured to help you choose the most appropriate stick to fit your needs. It’s best to start by choosing a stick size which feels good to you and then look for a specific model with a taper and tip that sounds the best.
 

Drumstick Type

Wooden Sticks


Hickory is the most common wood used to make drumsticks because it’s strong and also has a nice feel. Maple, Oak and Persimmon drumsticks are also available but should be tested in person to judge their feel and sound.

Synthetic Sticks

These types of drumsticks are made from metal and plastic materials. Their sound and feel is drastically different compared to wooden drumsticks and are often more expensive.
 

Drumstick Size

Drumstick sizes vary from company to company, but they’re generally similar to one another in weight and length. The taper, which is the degree of thinning from the tip to the handle, can vary greatly from stick to stick.

Most companies offer their own additional sizes and signature models which are specialized variations on universal core sizes.

7A:

These drumsticks are generally the smallest sticks available in length and diameter.

8D:

These drumsticks usually have the same thickness as 7A sticks but are a bit longer. Not all companies make 8D size sticks.

5A:

These sticks are thicker in diameter than 7A sticks and are a bit longer.

5B:

These sticks are thicker than 5A sticks and typically similar in length to 5A sticks. They’re usually heavier and bulkier than 5A sticks.

2B:

These sticks are thicker than 5B sticks and slightly longer.

Rock/Metal:

These are the thickest and longest drumsticks available. Rather than a numeric value, the actual size is literally expressed as either “Rock” or “Metal”.
 

Drumstick Tip

Wooden Round Tip

These oval-shaped tips are made from the same wood as the rest of the stick.

Wooden Barrel Tip


These tips are made from the same wood as the rest of the stick with a longer, fairly flat striking surface.

Wooden Teardrop Tip


Shaped like a teardrop, these tips are also made from the same wood as the rest of the stick.

Nylon Tip

These are plastic, generally round tips with a sound and feel which is drastically different than wooden tips.
 

Performance

Sound, feel, and durability are three crucial elements for determining the best drumstick for your needs.

The sound of a stick is best determined by playing the ride cymbal with the sticks tip and observing its sound. While you’re playing the ride cymbal, note the feel and bounce of the stick in your hand.

Next, play the high-hat with both the tip and shaft of the stick and then hit the crash cymbal with the shaft of the stick. One of the most important factors in choosing drumsticks will be the colors they create on the cymbals.

Follow up with a series of rolls and rudiments on the snare to test technical feel, then move around the toms to test speed and sound across the entire kit. Finally, play a few rim shots on the snare to see how much “bite” the sticks have.

At the end of play, look over the stick shafts and tips for any chips or dents. If these marks are prominent, you might want to switch to a different stick.
 

Durability

Generally the best quality drumsticks are made by a handful of companies including Vic Firth, Zildjian, Pro-mark, and Vater. In my opinion, these four companies make the most reliable drumsticks in terms of quality and durability.

All of these companies work with professional drummers to create drumsticks that sound and feel great. A few of these drummers even create custom sizes to match their specific drumming preferences.
 

Price/Value

You always want to choose a superior quality drumstick, especially since the price difference between good and bad sticks is often only a few dollars. It’s best to purchase drumsticks from quality manufacturers such as Vic-Firth, Pro-mark, Zildjian, and Vater.

Alternately, many off-brand companies offer cheap sticks in bulk quantities for several dollars cheaper per pair. In my opinion, it’s best to buy a quality, well-balanced pair of drumsticks because they’ll sound and feel better than these inferior bargain sticks.

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