Re: Promark vs Vater vs Vic Firth
While I would never say one stick company is better than another, I do have some general opinions on these 3 companies. These are opinions I've made due to my experiences buying and using these 3 brands over the course of the last several years, not trying to argue with or discredit anyone who's had different experiences than mine.
Pro-Mark- I'm a big fan of the Pro Mark hickory 5B, which was my main gigging stick for years. A little slimmer than other companies 5B's at the handle, but beefier up top for good throw. I also really liked Pro-Marks lacquer finish, very natural and woody feel. The last few years, I feel the quality has really dropped. I found it difficult to find pairs that weren't warped and that were close in weight. I noticed several pairs at local shops that looked like second grade wood. I've been meaning to give them a try again now that D'Addario has bought the company, but haven't gotten around to it quite yet.
Vater- These days, I use Vater sticks the majority of the time. What I've noticed about Vater is that, no matter how tempting the price is, I should avoid the 4 pair packs at GC. Every time I've bought one of those packs, the weights were all over the map, some very light and some extremely heavy. I find some warped sticks occassionally, but fairly straight for the most part. I feel I need to buy them a pair at a time so I can inspect them and purchase pairs in the weight range I prefer. I also like Vater's lacquer finish a lot, I find them comfortable and easy to hold on to. Great sticks, but need to work on the consistency IMO.
Vic Firth- Well thought out and sensible model range. Their sticks have a common design: 7A, 8D, 85A, 5A, 55A, 5B, 2B all look alike, just different sizes. Very even size increments between models (Vater and Pro-Marks size increments are uneven by comparison). I find Vic's to be the most consistent sticks for weight and straightness, my first choice if I had to buy without trying. Their consistency is even more remarkable when you consider that wood, by nature, is an inconsistent material, and also that VF manufactures and sells so many more sticks than the other companies (I saw an interview with Vic himself where he stated VF has 62% of the drumstick market). However, and I may be in the minority here, I can't stand the lacquer finish they use. The sticks are too smooth and slippery for me, and often to me they don't even feel like wood. Every time I take a chance on a pair of Vics, I end up sanding the butt end. Not that sanding them is difficult, but why go to the trouble when I can buy from another company whose sticks feel good to me right out of the box. I love the quality and consistency of VF, now if they'd just fix the darn lacquer (Vic, are you reading this? lol).
I'm curious to see if others have had similar, or totally different experiences with these brands. I think I'll go play my kit for a bit, most likely with a pair of Vater 5A's. Peace out.
Mapex Saturn (they're out of this world!)