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  #1  
Old 02-18-2013, 10:46 AM
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Default Time for a new stick size?

So I've been heartily playing away in a live situation for the last four days. I've been dealing with having to play on strange drumsets causing physical problems, and thanks to a pinched nerve in my neck somewhere, my chiropractor is trying to help me deal with tingling hands due to a lack of circulation not due to any kind of carpal tunnel syndrome.

I've noticed when I'm really slamming (where I'm really trying to play the drumset oppressively loud - almost beyond where it would sound good), my hands are just taking a beating. A few times I've gone to sticking my hands in ice because they feel a bit swollen.

I've played regular old Vic Firth 5A's now for the past 20+ years. I'm wondering if maybe it's time to jump up in size, maybe to a 5B. I remember my first snare drum lessons when I was 8 or so, and the teacher hand picked out a pair of Ludwig 2B sticks to work out with on a pad. It was like when you're in grade school and you get those big fat pencils because they're just easier for smaller hands to handle.

I know probably most of you have different sized sticks in your bag already, but I've never operated that way. I've always bought a brick of sticks when I needed them (a 12-pair package of one size) but I never felt the need to carry different sized sticks. I always felt if I needed the extra weight, I'd flip the stick over and play with the butt-end.

But has anyone here gone to bigger sticks and has it helped you with over-exertive playing? I'm assuming it would help the same way I went to a 26" bass drum because I didn't want to have to beat a bigger sound out of a smaller bass drum. Just thought I'd get an opinion before I go to the shop tomorrow and pick up a few pairs of 5Bs to try.

It's funny now that I'm older I'm actively looking ways to make my heavy, loud playing easier on myself.
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Old 02-18-2013, 11:04 AM
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Default Re: Time for a new stick size?

Yep. Preferred stick size is a 5A to 5B, but I played in an agressively loud and OTT unit some years ago where I found best results with a much thicker 3A. Likewise for more mellow, acoustic type lounge settings I'll break out the 7A's.

Sticks are just tools mate. Pick the tool that best suits the job and let 'em do the work IMHO. You might not use a sledgehammer to knock in a thumbtack.....but when you've gotta break rocks, how glad are you to have the thing in your arsenal?
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Old 02-18-2013, 11:37 AM
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Default Re: Time for a new stick size?

I completely agree with PFOG, sticks, mallets and brushes are all tools. I don't think anyone in their right mind have only one sized screwdriver that they also use for hammering and extracting crooked nails.. I have found 4 different sizes of sticks that work well for the different things I do: 2Bs, SD1s, 7As and a pair of Cooperman Nothung sticks. In addition to this I have brushes, broomsticks, 2-3 different rutes, a pair of those dual sticks (normal tip in one end and a felt ball in the other) and some retired melodic and timpani mallets. I even have a pair of timbales sticks in my arsenal.

And then add in that I study classical percussion. So I have tons of different mallets for different sounds and characters on different instruments. But still, I'm looking for more ;-)
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Old 02-18-2013, 11:57 AM
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Default Re: Time for a new stick size?

I've just switched to trying out 5Bs since getting my Bonham kit. Two main reasons: the drums are bigger, so I figured bigger sticks would be better; and I also have the problem when un-miked with my band that I'm struggling for volume.

Also, I switched to nylon tips. I used wood tips up to now but they were constantly splitting and so my heads were getting hit with a sharp edge, which didn't bring out the fuller sound of the drum as I wanted
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Old 02-18-2013, 12:15 PM
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Default Re: Time for a new stick size?

Have you tried Ahead sticks? I have a couple of pairs, 5A and 7A and they are certainly big sloggers. You can get grip tape to cushion them. They are supposed to be shock absorbing according to the box.

Swollen hands... if you can keep your arms above your shoulders it helps the circulation to drain it down.
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Old 02-18-2013, 12:36 PM
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Default Re: Time for a new stick size?

I used to play 7As and 5As but ended up cramping my hands if I had to play anything louder. Switching to 2B sized sticks certainly helped. I've used Vic Firth SD2s for a long time. They're beefy in diameter but very light toward the tip, so they're great for playing anything from pianissimo to forte -- and should you go beyond that, just flip the stick and the thick shaft will deliver as much force as you'll ever need.
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Old 02-18-2013, 12:58 PM
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Default Re: Time for a new stick size?

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Originally Posted by Wavelength View Post
I've used Vic Firth SD2s for a long time. They're beefy in diameter but very light toward the tip, so they're great for playing anything from pianissimo to forte -- and should you go beyond that, just flip the stick and the thick shaft will deliver as much force as you'll ever need.
Agree. Great well balanced stick.
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Old 02-18-2013, 01:19 PM
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Default Re: Time for a new stick size?

If you don't like the diameter of the 5B, you can also try the longer 5A Extreme. you'll get a little more weight and leverage on your strokes. Just a thought.
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  #9  
Old 02-18-2013, 01:34 PM
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Default Re: Time for a new stick size?

Try the 5B but, even more important, get a nerve test such as an EMG by a qualified medical doctor.

I don't want to get into a discussion on the validity of chiropractic but I assure,you that I speak from experience. Tingling hands are a common sign of nerve impingement. Chiropractic adjustments will not fix that. The best they can do,is offer temporary relief.

PM me if you like, I have been through what you are dealing with now.
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Old 02-18-2013, 02:09 PM
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Default Re: Time for a new stick size?

I got older as well (47) and switched to power 5b's (extended ones) and tried the rock sticks from Vater (even fater). I love the weight and feel of heavier/longer sticks. I have been playing to rocks for about a year now and when I pick up a pair of 5a's , I feel lost. Give them a try , you won't have to hit as hard and it will sound better.
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Old 02-18-2013, 04:16 PM
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Default Re: Time for a new stick size?

I'm thinking that they would only benefit you if you didn't hit as hard for the same volume. Otherwise it may aggravate the problem. but I really don't know for sure. If a drum is hit with a fixed amount of velocity, I wonder how many db's louder a 5B would be compared to a 5A. A thicker stick pulls a more fuller tone from the drum for sure, but I don't know about any db increase.
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  #12  
Old 02-18-2013, 04:55 PM
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Default Re: Time for a new stick size?

Vic Firth Magnum or Thomas Lang Signature should do the trick

But seriously, Extreme 5B's sound good for you.
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Old 02-18-2013, 05:22 PM
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Default Re: Time for a new stick size?

When I was a kid, I played in high school band. I was used to 3S and 2B sticks. I used large sticks on my kit,2B,2S, sizes. I preferred Fibes sticks because they were longer than most. 16.5" length sticks were rare back then.

Over the years, I scaled it down to Power/Super/Extreme 5B models. Recently,I have been playing longer models that are slightly thinner than 5Bs. One day, last week,I dropped a stick and picked up a Zildjian "Rock" model out of the bag. I had never used it. It was sitting there for years. My snare sounded like a gunshot with very minimal effort..I had forgotten how good larger sticks make big drums sound. I have been playing the "Rocks" since that night. I am playing more relaxed than I have in years.

Larger sticks will reduce the amount of effort you have to put in.
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  #14  
Old 02-18-2013, 06:17 PM
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Default Re: Time for a new stick size?

Is the kit miced? If not is there any way to put a SM 57 on the snare and get it to the FOH someway? I don't know the specifics of your gig but I find that a mic on the kick and the snare (and sometimes an overhead mic) will take care of 90% of the volume issues I run into. If I need more for a festival type gig the sound guys will usually provide it. I use 5A's exclusively (either Vic Firth or Promark) when I'm not using 7A's or hot rods.
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Old 02-18-2013, 06:21 PM
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Default Re: Time for a new stick size?

I have a few different sticks in my bag too. Whatever the situation calls for.

However, 5A is my 'big' stick. I'm not a hard hitter and the music I play just doesn't call for anything heavier. My only real step up from 5A is a 5A with a nylon tip. My other go to stick is the Vic Firth AJ6.

So you can see I don't have a lot of heavy arrows in my quiver.

You should definitely use whatever stick you need to get the job done. I even have two different weights of brushes too...
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Old 02-18-2013, 06:27 PM
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Default Re: Time for a new stick size?

I had the hand problems you describe. I used to use 5As and during rehearsals I would not feel anything out of the ordinary. But when it came time to actually get in front of people, I would develop Claws of Death (tm) trying to grip the sticks at speed.

I played around with various sticks, thinking that I needed to stay with a 5A diameter and maybe only 1/8" to 1/4" extra length ("I'm a small guy"). Then I picked up a pair of Buddy Rich sticks, which are about 55A diameter and a bit longer (like 16 5/8"). They felt like heaven, except for that slippery white finish. So I switched to Vic Grip X5As. The balance and the grip felt great, but I was still getting CODs after about half an hour of energetic playing. So I bit the bullet and sized up to X5Bs. I've never been happier. I played a 40-minute set at church yesterday, and my hands felt great.

So yes, try a longer stick, or a 5B, or a stretch 5b, and consider a grip stick... We're living in a technological age of wonder. Remember when your choices were 5A, 5B, 7A, and 2B?
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Old 02-18-2013, 06:33 PM
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Default Re: Time for a new stick size?

Quote:
Originally Posted by larryace View Post
I'm thinking that they would only benefit you if you didn't hit as hard for the same volume. Otherwise it may aggravate the problem. but I really don't know for sure. If a drum is hit with a fixed amount of velocity, I wonder how many db's louder a 5B would be compared to a 5A. A thicker stick pulls a more fuller tone from the drum for sure, but I don't know about any db increase.
To geek out for a moment...

The volume of a drum, assuming all other factors remain equal, is directly proportional to the kinetic enrgy transferred from the stick to the drum.

The formula for kinetic energy is 1/2 the mass times the square of the velocity.

This means that increasing mass has only a linear effect. Increasing the velocity of the stroke has an exponential effect. Doubling the mass will double the kinetic energy while doubling the velocity will quadruple it (2 x 2).

Realize that increasing stick size will only give you about 10% more mass so now you have to move a heavier mass just for 10% more impact.

End result is that a heavier stick will not increase the volume by nearly as much as you think it might.
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Old 02-18-2013, 07:36 PM
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Default Re: Time for a new stick size?

If you hold your sticks close to the butt end my advice will not help. Zildjian 5B's to me have "that" balance point that enables a very relaxed power. Conversely they also enable me to play at quite a reduced volume too. Other 5B's do not seem to do this. Wish they came in Maple.

Chris
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Old 02-18-2013, 08:26 PM
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Default Re: Time for a new stick size?

Thanks for the great advice. Yeah, I'm going shopping this morning for some 5B's. I'll take a 5A with me so I can see the differences.

But, no, this gig is not mic'd. Very old school/play to the back of the room loud. And that wouldn't be so bad if I wasn't having to project through cloth-covered risers in front of me and 40-50 kids dancing around. I do notice when I play normal in a big theater, I have no problem being loud. You just add all those sound-wave-sucking elements in front of me and much of the sound disappears. Don't think I haven't debated carrying my own PA in and doing a three-mic set-up!

So Jeff, what's an EMG test? Do I just mention that to my doctor and he should know what I should do or who to see?
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Old 02-18-2013, 08:34 PM
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Default Re: Time for a new stick size?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bo Eder View Post
Just thought I'd get an opinion before I go to the shop tomorrow and pick up a few pairs of 5Bs to try.
Sticks do matters, but for a comfort and feel of the stick POV, a 2B or a SD1 might not be your average jazz sticks, and a 5A or 7A is not your first choice for heavy rock, but not necessary, no rules apply here, to some extend, I can get a loud, powerful sound out of my Vic Firth SD2 or a light touch and soft sound from my Vic Firth SD9, it's more to do with the drummer and what stick feels comfortable to you.

I've just found a pair of old Pro-Mark 3A in oak the other day, I use to play them years and years ago, and I love the feel, they're not heavy sticks, but they're well balanced, and being made of oak, they're crisp on cymbals and hats, I did a search through Pro-Mark website, the model has been discontinued :(

Bo, take Simon Phillips as an example, he plays every type of music, from jazz to rock to metal...and everything in between, he uses the same hickory sticks, and has been for the last 30 years, before that he used the oak version of the same stick (Pro-Mark 707), he play the same kit too, proof that the sticks don't matters as much as we think it does :)
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Old 02-18-2013, 08:38 PM
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Default Re: Time for a new stick size?

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Originally Posted by Pocket-full-of-gold View Post
Yep. Preferred stick size is a 5A to 5B, but I played in an agressively loud and OTT unit some years ago where I found best results with a much thicker 3A. Likewise for more mellow, acoustic type lounge settings I'll break out the 7A's.

Sticks are just tools mate. Pick the tool that best suits the job and let 'em do the work IMHO. You might not use a sledgehammer to knock in a thumbtack.....but when you've gotta break rocks, how glad are you to have the thing in your arsenal?
+1
I use Vater Fatboy 3A's and I love them for durability and.definition.
They have an almost round tip(I use Nylon), and a meatier shoulder compared to the shaft, so they sound bigger than they really are(not tree trunks), and they take a beating.
I just bought 5 prs from Amazon @ 6.50 per.

Jeff Plate from the Trans Siberian Orchestra(East) turned me on to them around 20 years ago when he played for Wicked Witch(they had the next rehearsal room over), and according to an interview I recently saw, he still uses them for almost everything.
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Old 02-18-2013, 08:52 PM
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Default Re: Time for a new stick size?

I have also been going through lots of different sticks to find something new. In the quest, I found VF "AS5a" (American sound)... They seem to be a bit longer, more top heavy, and I get more sound from the same stroke, without going to a much bigger stick or anything like that.
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Old 02-18-2013, 09:59 PM
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Default Re: Time for a new stick size?

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Originally Posted by Mad About Drums View Post
Bo, take Simon Phillips as an example, he plays every type of music, from jazz to rock to metal...and everything in between, he uses the same hickory sticks, and has been for the last 30 years, before that he used the oak version of the same stick (Pro-Mark 707), he play the same kit too, proof that the sticks don't matters as much as we think it does :)
This is what I've been doing for the past 30 something years too! I actually have a pair of those 707's from back in the day and I like those. The ball tip doesn't really work for me that much though.
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Old 02-18-2013, 10:15 PM
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Default Re: Time for a new stick size?

I have found, that when I need to be loud for a long time, striat sticks work for me. I have some palo or something or other sticks (clearance!). They are about the size of a 5B or 5A around, but no taper or head. They work great for just banging away without having to put as much force into it. As far as I can tell, you loose a good bit of volume from the neck flexing. I go for those when I need loud, 5b's when I am just keeping up with guitar amps, and AJ1's if I am just playing quietly.
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Old 02-18-2013, 11:40 PM
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Default Re: Time for a new stick size?

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Originally Posted by MrPockets View Post
Vic Firth Magnum or Thomas Lang Signature should do the trick

But seriously, Extreme 5B's sound good for you.
Haha I use the Thomas Lang sticks.... They work wonders! I've never had any problem with dynamics, or breaking equipment since switching over to them. However, when I do feel like using something smaller, I go all the way down to the Vic Firth "Rock" Sticks. ;)

I'd actually recommend you try out the Rock sticks Bo. Or if you're looking for something a bit smaller, the Pro-Mark Benny Greb signature sticks (5BG I think) are slightly larger and longer than 5b's with a great feel to them.

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Old 02-19-2013, 01:25 AM
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Default Re: Time for a new stick size?

Well, I got a couple of pairs of the regular ol' Vic Firth 5b's and they're literally like my 5a's, but a bit fatter. I'll experiment with these. Having a fatter stick seems to help my hands so far. We'll see how they do when I go oppressively loud this coming weekend.
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Old 02-19-2013, 02:07 AM
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Default Re: Time for a new stick size?

I'm a little late to the thread, but I will tell you that my hands feel much better playing with heavier sticks if high volume is on the menu. Vater 2Bs are my current preference.

I don't mean that "heavy sticks are louder," exactly, but they give me a bigger shaft to hold on to (keep the comments at least PG, please! lol) and I feel less vibrations transferred to my hands when striking hard.

With practice, I've been able to play just as softly as with smaller sticks. You DO get a different sound on a light ride cymbal than when playing with lighter sticks, but I can play it quietly nonetheless, if need be.
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Old 02-19-2013, 02:40 AM
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Default Re: Time for a new stick size?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bo Eder View Post
So I've been heartily playing away in a live situation for the last four days. I've been dealing with having to play on strange drumsets causing physical problems, and thanks to a pinched nerve in my neck somewhere, my chiropractor is trying to help me deal with tingling hands due to a lack of circulation not due to any kind of carpal tunnel syndrome.
That's what I was told before they positively diagnosed my carpal tunnel (bilateral). I had surgery 6 years ago and haven't looked back since- it was the best decision I ever made, both for my drumming and my general well being.
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Old 02-19-2013, 04:09 AM
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Default Re: Time for a new stick size?

Vater Power Houses

:)

For quiet playing I've got some vater recording.
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Old 02-19-2013, 04:20 AM
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Default Re: Time for a new stick size?

I had never considered using thinner, lighter sticks if I had to play softer. I would just play softer. As I have played the same size stick for everything for the last 20+ years, I think I would sound worse adjusting my technique to smaller sticks during a gig rather than just having really good technique with the one size and being able to play all dynamics.

I'm already dealing with four types of cutlery: sticks, brushes, regal tip blasticks, and tymp mallets (or those Vic Firth Swizzle sticks which have a tympani head on one end and a drumstick bead on the other - depending on which stick bag I grab). I suppose I could have different sized sticks too, but I've never done that.
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Old 02-19-2013, 04:22 AM
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Default Re: Time for a new stick size?

I think any of us who has ever experienced discomfort while playing at least tinkers with the idea of changing sticks.

I had occasional bouts with with carpal tunnel syndrome in my right hand from the time I started playing drums until a few years ago. I did switch to a lighter stick, which seemed to help. But that wasn't the real root of my problem. I needed to overhaul my technique and posture at the kit. Bo, I've seen your hands on the clips you've posted and they couldn't possibly be more relaxed. But for me, the problem was that my grip wasn't loose or relaxed enough. Also, the way I was sitting and positioning my drums was contributing to it. Once I corrected these things, my problems went away.
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Old 02-19-2013, 04:39 AM
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Default Re: Time for a new stick size?

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I think any of us who has ever experienced discomfort while playing at least tinkers with the idea of changing sticks.

I had occasional bouts with with carpal tunnel syndrome in my right hand from the time I started playing drums until a few years ago. I did switch to a lighter stick, which seemed to help. But that wasn't the real root of my problem. I needed to overhaul my technique and posture at the kit. Bo, I've seen your hands on the clips you've posted and they couldn't possibly be more relaxed. But for me, the problem was that my grip wasn't loose or relaxed enough. Also, the way I was sitting and positioning my drums was contributing to it. Once I corrected these things, my problems went away.
I'm not sure what my problem is. My chiropractor is convinced there's a nerve in my neck that's pinching. And he may be right. I went in for an adjustment today and it immediately alleviated the numbness in my left hand, but it slightly switched over to my right. Sometimes I have it in both hands, but now it resides primarily on the right. I could sleep a certain way tonight and wake up with it on the left hand. This is why I'm not convinced there's a problem in my hands themselves and that my chiropractor could be correct. He even pointed out which large nerves travel through my neck to the rest of the body and which vertebrae could be affecting it at any one time.

As Jeff suggested going to my regular doctor and asking about an EMG test, I asked my chiro about it and he said that's a good test to do just to find out if nerves are actually not firing, but he leaned more towards doing an MRI. So I'm still attempting to do something, I just need to discuss it with my doctor to find out the way to go.

Thanks for the compliment on my relaxed hands, I think they look that way too. But I'm not sure I can re-arrange stuff anymore than I have. Everything is pretty much where it should be and I'm careful not to be contorting to play the instrument. But I am working on it. I'd like to be able to continue playing for at least the next 30 years ;)

Granted, I know I'm playing too hard for these gigs I'm doing now, and maybe I can find a way to either stop doing it and play more moderately - but I love doing it too. I will balance this out when I play with 'regular' bands who believe in miking drums so I'm not killing myself. This situation should be over by the end of April for me.
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Old 02-19-2013, 01:19 PM
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Default Re: Time for a new stick size?

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Originally Posted by Bo Eder View Post
I'm not sure what my problem is. My chiropractor is convinced there's a nerve in my neck that's pinching. And he may be right. I went in for an adjustment today and it immediately alleviated the numbness in my left hand, but it slightly switched over to my right. Sometimes I have it in both hands, but now it resides primarily on the right. I could sleep a certain way tonight and wake up with it on the left hand. This is why I'm not convinced there's a problem in my hands themselves and that my chiropractor could be correct. He even pointed out which large nerves travel through my neck to the rest of the body and which vertebrae could be affecting it at any one time.
Stick or no stick change, I hope whatever the issue is it get's resolved for you quickly so you're not in discomfort any longer.

Getting middle-aged can be tough. I deal with some arthritis in my hands and sometimes no matter what I'm doing the joint pains make it tough to play - especially my left hand when playing traditional grip.
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  #34  
Old 02-19-2013, 01:59 PM
drum4fun27302 drum4fun27302 is offline
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Default Re: Time for a new stick size?

I have different size sticks in my bag !!! Vater rock for rock , Steve Jordan for lighter stuff and Peter Erskine for really light jazz.
But I stick with the to rocks ;)
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  #35  
Old 02-19-2013, 04:34 PM
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BigDinSD BigDinSD is offline
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Default Re: Time for a new stick size?

Hey Bo,

How's the overall health? Do you exercise regularly? Perhaps a simple routine can keep the joints and nerves connected and happy? IDK, stretching, calisthenics or something?

The chiro consult is great. My buddy drums for the church and plays through 5 services. A trip to the chiro really helps him out each time.

Anyways, if you're ever in SD anytime soon - let me know. I have several pairs of Regal Tip 5B's and Pro Marks I can give you. I had been using 5A's and thought that switching to heavier sticks would help my speed around the kit. In my case, it was technique and practice that helped my speed. So I stuck with the 5A's.
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  #36  
Old 02-19-2013, 08:38 PM
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Mikeyboyeee Mikeyboyeee is offline
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Default Re: Time for a new stick size?

I was using 5B's years ago and started to notice some fatigue in my hands after a weekend of gigs... I went through some different sticks (the Hornet sticks really did the trick - but just way too expensive and the quality was kinda hit or miss) - I finally settled on 3A's and 2B's for 98% of my playing and I don't experience any pain/fatigue any longer -- I think I have a much more relaxed grip on a thicker stick which probably helps... Give a larger stick a try - it might be just what you're looking for!

I heartily recommend Silverfox FatBoy and Boston Basher (both roughly 2b in size) -- they last much longer than anything else I've used, feel great in my hands, and sound killer... and Vater 3A's (Smitty's Funk Blaster) for something a little smaller once in a great while

Good Luck Bo!

Mike Noll
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  #37  
Old 02-19-2013, 09:02 PM
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Bo Eder Bo Eder is offline
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Default Re: Time for a new stick size?

Quote:
Originally Posted by BigDinSD View Post
Hey Bo,

How's the overall health? Do you exercise regularly? Perhaps a simple routine can keep the joints and nerves connected and happy? IDK, stretching, calisthenics or something?

The chiro consult is great. My buddy drums for the church and plays through 5 services. A trip to the chiro really helps him out each time.

Anyways, if you're ever in SD anytime soon - let me know. I have several pairs of Regal Tip 5B's and Pro Marks I can give you. I had been using 5A's and thought that switching to heavier sticks would help my speed around the kit. In my case, it was technique and practice that helped my speed. So I stuck with the 5A's.
I'm almost afraid to answer you ;)

There was a time when was I was exercising regularly (I was an avid cyclist, happily pumping my way up and down the hills around my home), but over the last few years due to the strange hours of the job(s) much of that has fallen by the wayside. The diet is what can be expected of a slightly overweight short guy at 47, and that's always being worked on. But my chiro has me stretching things out and doing light exercises around the house. Definitely aware of the coming lifestyle change.
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  #38  
Old 02-19-2013, 09:43 PM
sk8inmadkid sk8inmadkid is offline
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Default Re: Time for a new stick size?

I found this problem also, not with the pain or anything, but the effort of getting the sound that I wanted with harder hitting - I got some Lars Ulrich ahead sticks and have used the same ever since!
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  #39  
Old 02-19-2013, 09:45 PM
Otto Otto is offline
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Default Re: Time for a new stick size?

When I think greater volume is needed than what my comfortable stick/stroke makes, I think amplification.

Might be time to bring in a little amplification to the situation...a little can go a long way.

By the way, are you sure you aren't loud enough already?
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  #40  
Old 02-20-2013, 12:39 AM
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Angus Macinnes Angus Macinnes is offline
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Default Re: Time for a new stick size?

I have always used 5A stickes but recently I bought a couple pair of the Gavin Harrison Signature sticks and they have been extremely comfortable. The vic grip actually lets you relax your hand just a bit. You might want to think about these or something in the line with the grip tape ect... Hope you get it worked out soon.
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