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  #1  
Old 10-15-2013, 07:20 AM
stellar92010 stellar92010 is offline
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Default What's the deal with stick size?

Does size really matter? I started with really skinny Roland sticks, then went to promark-808L (Ian Paice, which are rather heavy and long) now Im trying promark 2B hickory clubs which look like they would be good for self defense. Jesting aside, I rather like those 2B clubs, it seems like they hurt my hands less than lighter, thinner sticks, and my playing seems about the same.

So why is it that people prefer one over the other, is it all just personal preference?
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Old 10-15-2013, 07:34 AM
TwoCables
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Default Re: Whats the deal with stick size?

It's about using the right tool for the job. Like, you wouldn't want to use those clubs for a gentle jazz gig in a little jazz club, and you wouldn't want to use sticks that are like toothpicks for a hard rock gig in a large venue or even outside.

Although, if you're in just one band and your gigs are pretty consistent, then you can usually stay with just one size. However, if that band has a large variety from gentle quiet soft ballads and stuff that's like soft jazz to really heavy hitting rock and roll, then you'd need to have at least 2-3 different stick sizes from which to choose. You might even want to have the choice between nylon and wood tip as well as different tip shapes and sizes, different tapers, etc.

I mean, sticks affect the sound too as well as your playing due to their feel, so it's not really good to force one stick size to work for everything that you play unless that stick size is working very well for everything that you play (which would mean that you don't have a very wide variety of things that you play which is perfectly valid). Of course, it's important to find sticks that work well with you in general as opposed to just dealing with sticks that don't work so well with you.

I'm fortunate in that I can keep it simple. I always use Vic Firth 5ANs because they work very well for me for everything that I play. :) I'm not a professional who is in demand and who is fluent in many different styles of music, and the band I'm in doesn't play anything that ever gives me the need to change my stick, so I'm lucky because I like consistency.
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Old 10-15-2013, 07:34 AM
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Midnite Zephyr Midnite Zephyr is offline
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Default Re: Whats the deal with stick size?

You use different sticks for different applications. A lighter stick for low-volume or faster playing, and a heavier stick for rock and metal. I use anything from a 5A to a 5B because I play a variety of styles. I keep x5A nylons, 5B nylons, 55A woods, Aaron Spears Signature wood tip, and two different thickness rods (hot and thunder). If I played in a church band, I would probably prefer a 7A. If it was a band like Tool, then maybe a 2B would do.

Some people do have to worry about how the sticks affect their hands, but I've been playing long enough to be comfortable with almost any stick in my hand. I prefer not using the skinny ones. We all have our preferences.
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Old 10-15-2013, 07:45 AM
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sonnygrabber sonnygrabber is offline
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Default Re: Whats the deal with stick size?

I think it's certainly preference, but it's hand size as well. Many moons ago I had a teacher who asked me to bring my sticks to a lesson. When I brought my 7A's and explained that thinner must be quicker and bouncier he just laughed and took me out to the stick display. There he showed me about proportion and weight and we determined that 5B's were right for me. Been using them ever since, (about 20 years).
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Old 10-15-2013, 07:48 AM
stellar92010 stellar92010 is offline
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Default Re: Whats the deal with stick size?

I guess the fact that I'm a big guy with a lot of body mass to throw those sticks around may be a reason I prefer them. The first thin sticks I tried, as soon as I tried the 808L's --its a long stick--I threw those other sticks aside. then I tried the 2B's and they felt 'heay' but grew on my quickly, and my hands didn't ache as much. I guess for playing lighter music I will just have to pay attention to dynamic control. Anyway I'm still in the experimental stage.
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Old 10-15-2013, 07:50 AM
stellar92010 stellar92010 is offline
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Default Re: Whats the deal with stick size?

Quote:
Originally Posted by sonnygrabber View Post
I think it's certainly preference, but it's hand size as well. Many moons ago I had a teacher who asked me to bring my sticks to a lesson. When I brought my 7A's and explained that thinner must be quicker and bouncier he just laughed and took me out to the stick display. There he showed me about proportion and weight and we determined that 5B's were right for me. Been using them ever since, (about 20 years).
Ah! I asked my teacher and he looked at my sticks, he said they were good for me but didn't explain why.

I can fly with them too. the thin sticks were always sailing out of my hands.
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Old 10-15-2013, 08:00 AM
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Red Menace Red Menace is offline
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Default Re: Whats the deal with stick size?

I think a good place to start is get a standard sized pair of sticks, I like to start with a 5A, and play them a bit then make a not of how they feel. Do they feel to thin? Too light? Too heavy? Go to the manufacturer's website and look up the length and thickness and then try another pair that you think will be more to your liking. Eventually you'll find what size of stick you really like.

For me the Vic Firth 5A is a good meter. 16" length and .565" Diameter. Based on that I can get a good idea how a new stick will feel in my hands. Recently wanted to make the switch to a thicker stick so I play the harder accents with less effort. For practice I use a Vic Firth 8DN, the nylon tip is more durable and the lighter diameter allows me to play lighter.

The great think about sticks is that a new pair is pretty cheap, get a couple of pairs on payday and see how they feel.
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Old 10-15-2013, 08:02 AM
TwoCables
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Default Re: Whats the deal with stick size?

Quote:
Originally Posted by stellar92010 View Post
I guess the fact that I'm a big guy with a lot of body mass to throw those sticks around may be a reason I prefer them. The first thin sticks I tried, as soon as I tried the 808L's --its a long stick--I threw those other sticks aside. then I tried the 2B's and they felt 'heay' but grew on my quickly, and my hands didn't ache as much. I guess for playing lighter music I will just have to pay attention to dynamic control. Anyway I'm still in the experimental stage.
I know of a drummer who's a pretty big guy and pretty overweight (a big metal drummer). Well, I think he always used 2Bs because he said he always goes for the biggest sticks that he can find, and one day he tried my 5As just for fun after asking my permission, and he said that it was like playing with toothpicks! lol He's a big guy though who played on a big heavy speed metal kit with like 6-8 toms, double bass, and several cymbals.

Anyway, yeah I have tried bigger sticks myself, but they just didn't work for me.
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Old 10-15-2013, 04:42 PM
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BradGunnerSGT BradGunnerSGT is offline
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Default Re: Whats the deal with stick size?

It all has to do with what's comfortable for you, and sometimes what is comfortable is actually the opposite of what you would expect. I'm not a huge guy with huge hands, but I play a much larger (but MUCH lighter!!) stick than I used to.

I actually purchased a pair of Pro-Mark 747's earlier this year and played them during a gig on Neil Peart's birthday. When I was a "kid", those were heavy "rock" sticks that I thought were huge. Now that I am used to sticks that fill my hand and don't feel like I have to maintain a death grip to keep hold of them, the 747's feel like playing with pencils.

Mike Portnoy amazes me that he basically plays a pair of toothpicks with huge tips on them and bashes the hell out of his kit. I can't see how he doesn't break 10 pairs a night and doesn't have intense hand cramps from gripping those little things.

I started out with Vic Firth 5A's (like everyone else on the planet) and tried a lot of small to medium sized sticks. VF 7A, ProMark 707's, 808's, 747's. I bumped up a notch, size-wise, and ended up with Vater Fusions for a long time (several years) and then went back to the 5A size (VF 5A, 55A, and X5A).

After reading an interview with Gavin Harrison a few years ago, I tried the Vic Firth SD9 (maple stick, a tiny bit larger than a 5B). Wow, I was amazed that I had never thought if that before. The SD9 is a "beefier" stick, size- and balance-wise, but it weighs the same as a 5A. I have played them for the last 3 years and I don't think I could find a better all around stick for my hands. I play so much more relaxed now that I don't feel like I have to grip so hard to keep the sticks in my hands. These are the largest and longest sticks that I have ever played and yet they make me feel effortless. I can play loud or soft or anything an between and not have to change sticks. I think the larger stick actually give me more control at softer volumes because the sticks feel so balanced.
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  #10  
Old 10-15-2013, 05:31 PM
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brady brady is offline
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Default Re: Whats the deal with stick size?

I started out playing Vic Firth 5As simply because they were the most widely available. But as Two Cables alluded to above, it's nice to have a more appropriate tool for the type of music you're playing.

I still occasionally use 5As, mostly at church. But there is such a wide dynamic level there that I end up using most of the other sticks in my quiver. In addition to church, I also play in a jazz quartet/trio, and a blues band. I'll use a different model wherever I feel it suits the music best. Some of my favorite sticks are:

VF AJ2 - My go-to stick. A little lighter and faster than a regular 5A for me.

VF Peter Erskine Big Band Stick - A bigger butt than the AJ2 by quite a bit yet somehow just as quick. I feel like I don't have to work nearly as hard with this stick. I use this one mostly with the blues band.

VF AJ6 - The thinnest stick I use. Obviously the quietest, and the tip sounds absolutely beautiful on the ride cymbal. A very thin neck that I fear will break with too much force although that has never happened.

VF 5A - My heaviest stick that I use. It feels a little sluggish compared to the other models. It's my "rock" stick, or for heavy shuffles.
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  #11  
Old 10-16-2013, 04:19 AM
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Zickos Zickos is offline
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Default Re: What's the deal with stick size?

If you don't want to use different size sticks, just get different size hands.
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Old 10-16-2013, 04:44 AM
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Winston_Wolf Winston_Wolf is offline
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Default Re: What's the deal with stick size?

I think to a certain extent it's both a "right tool for the job" issue, but also (and I think mostly) a function of matching the best stick to your hands and playing style.

I used to follow the idea that quiet music needed smaller sticks, but it just didn't work for me. I found trying to adjust my technique using an SD4 or 7A for lighter music just led to a series of compromises that affected my playing. Once I found a stick that was truly comfortable I really have no issue playing loud or soft, fast or slow because the stick responds to what I want to do with it.

For me, it took a lot of looking at a series of sticks before I found what really worked. Trying sticks with a couple hundredths of difference in diameter here, a 1/4" of length there, just dialing it in stick by stick. I felt a little like Goldilocks at times, but whatever works...
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  #13  
Old 10-23-2013, 10:45 PM
mandrew mandrew is offline
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Default Re: What's the deal with stick size?

2B sticks have their place. If you are a loud player in a big room, they work well, in that you do not have to beat the tar out of your instruments and risk dammage. Let the weight of the stick do the work. The heavier the stick, the more you can let up on the physical striking. 2B sticks are great for practice/chop building for rudiment practice. They work well for concert bands and parades, etc. Many times, general hand pain can be attributed to hitting too hard with too light a stick, transmitting the shock through your muscles. If you have good stick control, there is no reason that you cannot play softly when needed.
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