How much does stick size affect the ability to play fast?

Joffry

Well-known member
I’ve been playing 5bs exclusively for a few years now, and today I decided to try some 5as just for fun, and I found that I was able to play faster with less effort.

The downside was that I didn’t feel as in control as I do with 5bs. However, I believe that this was simply due to the fact that I have become well acquainted with 5bs.


My question is, how much of a factor do you guys think stick size plays in regards to speed?
Playing faster was more comfortable for me with 5as so I’m considering just using 5as exclusively from now on. On the other hand, many metal and fusion drummers use thick sticks (5b+) and still manage to play fast, so maybe I should just stick to 5Bs and just continue to gradually work my speed up.
 

Jeremy Bender

Platinum Member
Not so much of a factor as you might expect if you're hands are well developed.

Buddy Rich had blistering fast hands but used fairly thin sticks. Jim Chapin also had strong & very fast hands but used thicker sticks.

Guys today with great fast hands like D.Weckl, Steve Smith, Jo Jo Mayer don't use really thick sticks while fast heavy players like Jeff Queen or John Wooten do use thick sticks in their style of music.

In short... speed comes from years of practice and good technique. I would seek out a qualified teacher in your area if possible.
 
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Hewitt2

Senior Member
Well I do find heavier sticks yield better rebound (which is closely tied to speed), by virtue of their mass. I find I have to work a lot more to have higher stick heights with lighter sticks.

Note that I have rather large and thick hands and playing with anything smaller than a 3A feels like I have chopsticks in my hand. With something like a 5A, I am squeezing and applying unnecessary tension as the sticks otherwise slide around. For me, a 5B provides a nice balance between comfort and mass.

Ultimately, stick size is a highly personal choice and I don't think it is possible to make generalizations about stick size and speed.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Stick weight is a big factor, but the length (read: leverage) also governs the stick's ability to move as quickly as your hands want it to.

Also, are you talking about hand movement, or just playing at a faster tempo? Different mechanics are needed for each, and the stick may or may not be a factor.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
I cant really play any faster with a thicker stick even if its comfortable, but there is a definite time difference in how long I can play at speed with a thicker stick.

I prefer a skinnier stick. No more than 16" either. The thicker sticks feel harder to control for me because there is more mass to start and stop, and I'm used to moving a smaller stick. My fingers are long and skinny.
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
I think if playing a 5A or B and move to 7A it feels so much lighter and you "feel" like you're playing faster. But really I think that is a false impression because you really work more hitting a bit harder. I like a larger stick but similarly it has more momentum so takes more to change it's motion. But in either case you show up and there is a stage kit and sticks you just go with it and work with it. Seems you accommodate to larger or smaller so does it really matter. To me its more the sound of the sticks on my snare, toms or cymbals and a lot of that comes from shape of tip. Although if playing solid slow fills on toms big sticks sound awesome-little sticks can be a bit simply. So you walk softly and carry a big stick with a tiny little tip like an acorn. LOL. I was impressed with video posted of timpanist and their technique to get pleasant tones from timpani. Same technique sounds great on toms too. It's who controlling the stick not what it is.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Kind of a paradox in that drum corps play with 3S like sticks for improved speed and volume.

The rebound from the tight heads also contributes to the speed. In that scenario, a lot of the technique required is just to keep the sticks from flying away!
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
I find I can play with a more immediate response with shorter sticks than longer sticks, but my flow & dynamic suffers. My very early years were spent on timpani, so I got used to the whip feel. That translated into longer than average sticks, & I still use 16 3/4" sticks today.

All that said, speed is of little interest to me other than that necessary to execute simple stuff.
 

s1212z

Well-known member
Mangini uses a 0.580 at the butt that increases to a 0.62 then tapers with a thicker than normal shoulder. I suspect the forward weight helps him but never tried his pair but grip seems to be between a 5A/5B

I played an VF SD Bolero for almost 25 years. Thick 0.635 but short 15.75, it’s made of maple in instead of hickory which makes it considerably lighter with a big handle and a cymbal bead sound I like. I’ve tried smaller sticks but for faster ride tempo with stamina, this is still my stick of choice.
 

pgm554

Platinum Member
The rebound from the tight heads also contributes to the speed. In that scenario, a lot of the technique required is just to keep the sticks from flying away!
Nothing quite like Formicaesque rebound .
 

Morrisman

Platinum Member
For me the lighter, shorter sticks are definitely faster. I can happily play fast HiHat shuffles like Rock Around the Clock with Vic Firth 7A’s, but with heavier or longer sticks I find it harder to maintain the tempo.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
In my experience, usually the stick isn't the problem, or even really a huge part of the problem unless you're currently using something very odd. I usually recommend just go with something normal, easy to find and not too small so you don't do too much work because the stick has no weight to use for inertia.
 

pgm554

Platinum Member
Tony Williams played with 2B's for jazz and fusion.
Said better to have the extra weight and not need it ,then to need it and not have it.
Personally ,I just change sticks if I'm gonna play a loud gig.
 

Stroman

Platinum Member
In my experience, usually the stick isn't the problem, or even really a huge part of the problem unless you're currently using something very odd. I usually recommend just go with something normal, easy to find and not too small so you don't do too much work because the stick has no weight to use for inertia.
Watso!! Good to see you. :D

Okay, back to the thread. I just had to interject. lol
 

Superman

Gold Member
Stick is 100% a preference thing. I used to use 5Bs and a few years back I switched to 5As and they felt more comfortable to me. That comfortable feeling led to a better grip, better mechaincs and in turn I felt I played faster and smoother. But make no mistake, it wasn't the stick; it was me finding something that suited me and my playing better.
 

wraub

Well-known member
Vater 3A Fatback sticks ftw. Good balance of size, grip, and speed imo.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
Watso!! Good to see you. :D

Okay, back to the thread. I just had to interject. lol
Yea, if I'm honest, having my instruments stolen and a pandemic ruin all my playing out gigs I've been a little down on music lately. I'm always lurking even when I'm not posting a lot though. Hopefully life can pick back up again and I'll feel more musically motivated.
 
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