When deciding how to choose drum sticks, there are two main variables to consider: the style of music you'll be performing and the type of stick "feel" you prefer. Jazz and funk styles demand an entirely different approach to drumming than rock or metal, and in turn demand a different type of stick. The feel of a stick is based on personal preferences like balance and response in conjunction with a drummer's playing mechanics. To choose the right set of drum sticks, follow the guidelines below:
- Consider the music. Are you playing with a jazz trio at a coffeehouse or with a rock band at the local dive bar? Thin, light drum sticks cater to softer styles like jazz while the louder genres like rock demand a heavier stick. Maybe you play multiple styles of music, in which case you're looking for a stick with versatility. Always think about the music first—not brand and not looks—before making a selection.
- Demo some drum sticks. If you've got a music store in your area, head over and try out different drum sticks. This is the best way to understand your own personal preferences. Jot down some notes about which models felt best to you.
- Stick thickness. From lightest to heaviest, the most common stick thicknesses are 7A, 5A, 5B, and 2B. The best all-around stick thickness is 5A.
- Tip shape. The rounder the tip, the fatter the sound. The most versatile shape is the standard teardrop; if you play multiple styles of music, this is an excellent choice.
- Taper. The taper of a stick is the area where the stick narrows, just before the tip. A longer taper adds flexibility and response, which is best suited for pop and fusion. Shorter tapers tend to supply the stick with rigidity and power—perfect for heavy hitters.
Choosing drum sticks is a process that varies from person to person. Think about the music you'll be playing, try out as many stick styles as possible, than narrow down your selection using characteristics like stick thickness, tip shape, and taper. Follow these simple guidelines and you'll have no trouble finding your perfect pair of sticks.