Little correlation between stick type (2A, 9A etc.) and weight...?

KJIB

Member
I'm fairly new to drumming and one of the things that looked not too expensive to try out is different types of drum stick. So I ordered a range, 5A, 7A, 9A (and probably a few more). In some cases I have the same type but from different places. There does not seem to be any reliable correlation between the physical weight or thickness of a stick and that number. I've got them from a right old random mixture of companies so I assume that each company just makes up its own idea about what weight / dimension should go with each "type". I have also tried getting the same material (e.g. oak) in a few types and the lack of correlation remains.

I must be missing something here, what is it?
 

planoranger

Junior Member
Welcome to the wonderful world of sticks. I'm pretty sure you're not missing anything. Size names/numbers have NEVER been standardized. Take Vater, for instance. They of course make a 5A and a 7A. Just like everybody else, the 5A (more on that later) has a larger diameter than the 7A. Well they also make an 8A. It turns out that that stick is larger than a 7A, but smaller than a 5A. Go figure.

If that's not bad enough, sticks with the same name/number made by different companies will often have different diameters. A 5A from Vater is .570", a 5A from Vic Firth is .565" (OK...not much difference there...but still), a Pro Mark 5A is .551".
 

Winston_Wolf

Platinum Member
I've tried a lot of the "same" sticks from the big three (Vic Firth, Pro*Mark, and Vater) and I've noticed some variation.

In general, when looking at a single model (5A, for example) Vater's sticks will be the heaviest, and Pro*Mark's the lightest, with Vic Firth in between. This comes down to the moisture content the company wants their sticks to have.

But you will also see some variation in the actual specifications too, even if slight. Looking at each company's line you'll still see 2B>5B>5A>7A, but you will likely see some variations is exact specs, or a slightly different tip or taper, or some other variation.

But they are usually pretty close. I usually find the weight variation in sticks more noticeable than spec. variations.

Working with wood is not a perfect science, and machining down to the hundredths or even thousandth with wood is going to have a little variation from batch to batch in a single company, let alone across several manufacturers.
 

planoranger

Junior Member
I've tried a lot of the "same" sticks from the big three (Vic Firth, Pro*Mark, and Vater) and I've noticed some variation.

In general, when looking at a single model (5A, for example) Vater's sticks will be the heaviest, and Pro*Mark's the lightest, with Vic Firth in between. This comes down to the moisture content the company wants their sticks to have.
That's pretty interesting....our observations are different. I was a die-hard Pro Mark user for close to 40 years, so I have lot of their 5A's. A couple of years ago (right after the takeover by D'Addario), I switched to 5A's by Vic Firth. Before I made that switch, I also bought 1 pair of the Vater 5A, just to see whether I wanted to go Vater or Vic Firth, so my sample space is obviously small there. What I found was, to me, the Pro Mark sticks were the heaviest, the Vic Firth the lightest, and the Vater in between, but closer to the Vic Firth than to the Pro Mark. I guess it's all in "the hands of the beholder".
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
The numbers and letters were originally used as purpose identifiers. An A stick was orchestral, a B for band application, and an S for street drumming, as in marching. Over the years, however, the designations have transformed, maintaining, in some cases, only indefinite associations with their original classifications. Every stick company's 5B, for instance, will have unique attributes. Tapers will vary, as will diameters. Relying on numbers and letters these days is unsteady. Sampling each stick is the only surefire method.
 
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C.M. Jones

Well-known member
I have also tried getting the same material (e.g. oak) in a few types and the lack of correlation remains.
If you're new to drumming, here's something you should know about oak sticks: Because they're denser and more durable than hickory, they're also less flexible. As a result, more shock is transmitted to your hands and wrists with each stroke. I never recommend oak for beginners, as excellent technique is compulsory if injury is to be avoided. You might consider sticking (pun intended) with hickory during your formative phase as a drummer.

After over three decades of using hickory sticks, I switched to AHEAD a few years ago and haven't looked back. AHEAD sticks have aluminum cores with polyurethane exteriors. I love their feel and balance, and their impact absorption is second to none. I was opposed to synthetic sticks for many years but have altered my views substantially. Many drummers swear by AHEAD; others swear at AHEAD. Neutral viewpoints are rare on the topic.
 

KJIB

Member
All interesting stuff, thank you so much for the replies.
The tip on oak not being ideal for beginners certainly resonates. I had an initial burst of activity on the drumming and I definitely had bad stick technique and ended up taking a break. I'd obviously got carried away. This did make me consider my technique. I have since had some advice from a teacher and I try to keep that in mind when I practice so have been able to ramp my practice time back up again. But I will also take note of the shock potential of oak. Those synthetic sticks sound interesting too. I will take a look.
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
All interesting stuff, thank you so much for the replies.
The tip on oak not being ideal for beginners certainly resonates. I had an initial burst of activity on the drumming and I definitely had bad stick technique and ended up taking a break. I'd obviously got carried away. This did make me consider my technique. I have since had some advice from a teacher and I try to keep that in mind when I practice so have been able to ramp my practice time back up again. But I will also take note of the shock potential of oak. Those synthetic sticks sound interesting too. I will take a look.
Good luck, KJIB. As your instructor has probably emphasized, maintaining a loose, relaxed grip will go a long way toward protecting your hands. Let the stick rebound on its own as much as possible. The amount of work you'll need to perform will decline dramatically.
 

planoranger

Junior Member
Good luck, KJIB. As your instructor has probably emphasized, maintaining a loose, relaxed grip will go a long way toward protecting your hands. Let the stick rebound on its own as much as possible. The amount of work you'll need to perform will decline dramatically.
Rebound...the magic elixir of drumming. Buster Bailey of the NY Philharmonic used to say, "Ride the rebound up." Think of your hands as going along for the ride rather than constantly steering the bus. That can only occur if your technique is based on total relaxation of your hands.
 
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NouveauCliche

Senior Member
I'm fairly new to drumming and one of the things that looked not too expensive to try out is different types of drum stick. So I ordered a range, 5A, 7A, 9A (and probably a few more). In some cases I have the same type but from different places. There does not seem to be any reliable correlation between the physical weight or thickness of a stick and that number. I've got them from a right old random mixture of companies so I assume that each company just makes up its own idea about what weight / dimension should go with each "type". I have also tried getting the same material (e.g. oak) in a few types and the lack of correlation remains.

I must be missing something here, what is it?
Sticks are tricky - I rarely look for any correlation between different brands.

The only things that seem constant are:

7A - Lighter stick
5A - Medium all Stick
5B - Heavier than a 5A

That relationship between those three models is almost universal - but past that...3A, 8A, etc. just depends on the manufacturer.

Luckily you can find the specifications on most sticks very easy these days with the internet so you can compare lengths, widths, weighs, etc.

So for isnstance if you were comparing a Vic Firth 5A to a ProMark 5A:



Vic Firth:
  • Tear drop tip
  • Diameter : .565" | 1.44cm
  • Length : 16" | 40.64cm
  • Taper : Medium
  • Series : American Classic
  • Surface Coating : Lacquer
  • Material (Wood) : Hickory
Promark:
  • Length: 15" - 16“
  • Diameter: .551"
  • Taper: Medium
  • Tip/Head Material: Wood
  • Finish: Lacquer
  • Tip Shape: Oval



It's a lot easier within a certain brand to compare different stick sizes with those same specs.

The absolute best thing to do would be to find a music store somewhere that allows customers and try a few sticks (Well...if that's even possible with the current pandemic).

I know I have a giant bag of sticks I've purchased over the years and never used more than once or twice...so even having quite a few years of experience - I'm still ordering lots of different to sticks to try when the mood strikes.


As CM mentioned - there are options that aren't wood - but I'm firmly in the swear AT AHEAD sticks haha (And by extension, I dislike nylon tips - but you can try all of those yourself!!)


Good luck! Sticks are just one of those things that take lots of time and testing.
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
As CM mentioned - there are options that aren't wood - but I'm firmly in the swear AT AHEAD sticks haha (And by extension, I dislike nylon tips - but you can try all of those yourself!!)
Ha! If I really wanted to be an upstart, I'd launch the following thread: Express Your Unbridled Opinion of AHEAD Sticks. Mutiny would surge.
 

NouveauCliche

Senior Member
Ha! If I really wanted to be an upstart, I'd launch the following thread: Express Your Unbridled Opinion of AHEAD Sticks. Mutiny would surge.
I would literally have to limit myself to one post in that thread for my own sanity.

In like...maybe 98-2000 ish there was another maker of sticks that were some kind of composite that I actually liked - but they didn't seem to last long as a company. The sort of looked like wood - or almost like particle board. (Kind of like the carbon fiber sticks - but not as rigid)

That was probably the only non-wood stick I've ever enjoyed - wish I could think of the name of that company!
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
I would literally have to limit myself to one post in that thread for my own sanity.

In like...maybe 98-2000 ish there was another maker of sticks that were some kind of composite that I actually liked - but they didn't seem to last long as a company. The sort of looked like wood - or almost like particle board. (Kind of like the carbon fiber sticks - but not as rigid)

That was probably the only non-wood stick I've ever enjoyed - wish I could think of the name of that company!
I use AHEAD's 5B Light Rock model and love it. It took some getting used to, but I'm addicted at this point. My six-year-old son is using Promark 5As now, and the last time I played with them, just as a test, they felt like chainsaws in my hands. AHEAD sticks transmit almost no vibrations at all. They're just extremely comfortable to me. Still, I can see why many drummers reject them. Stick choice is probably the most personal decision a drummer can make.
 

gish

Senior Member
I would literally have to limit myself to one post in that thread for my own sanity.

In like...maybe 98-2000 ish there was another maker of sticks that were some kind of composite that I actually liked - but they didn't seem to last long as a company. The sort of looked like wood - or almost like particle board. (Kind of like the carbon fiber sticks - but not as rigid)

That was probably the only non-wood stick I've ever enjoyed - wish I could think of the name of that company!
Was it Mainline by chance?
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
Rebound...the magic elixir of drumming. Buster Bailey of the NY Philharmonic used to say, "Ride the rebound up." Think of your hands as going along for the ride rather than constantly steering the bus. That can only occur if your technique is based on total relaxation of your hands.
Great quote. I go even further than Buster Bailey. I say the sticks hit the drums. The sticks play the drums. I just guide them around the drum set.

My hands are very dry. Some drumsticks, the one's with very little clear coating, tend to slip out of my hands. So I use coated sticks. Or I clear coat them with glossy clear spray. At one time I tried that drumstick wax and some other sticky stuff. It did not work for me. I discovered that the drumsticks are constantly rotating and moving around in my hands. And the sticky stuff kept that from happening.

.
 

gish

Senior Member
YES! they were kind of reddish/pink!

I think that was it!
Those mainline sticks had pretty much all positive reviews back in the day as the best synthetic stick made at that point in time. I remember trying them on a pad at a local shop, and thought they felt very close to wood as far as feel and response goes; maybe a bit heavy. Didn’t purchase and therefore never tried them on the kit but the design seemed promising. Not sure how clean or unclean the manufacturing process was.
 

TK-421

Senior Member
Promark:
  • Length: 15" - 16“
Love how Promark is so specific! Does that mean one stick in a pair is 15" and the other is 16"?

BTW, I've always felt that Promark sticks were the heaviest, Vater the lightest, and VF in between. Also, a lot of the feel of a stick has to do with the taper. A short taper feels heavy and/or slow, a long, gradual taper feels light/fast.
 

KJIB

Member
AHEAD sticks, sound interesting but about 5x the price of others. Are they THAT good ? :unsure:
I did look at their website and they do at least give the weight & dimensions of all their sticks. It would be good to be able to sort the range of sticks by what thing you're interested in (e.g. weight) rather having to than click on every single stick to find the best match. Better still, in rose tinted spec drumming utopia land I'd like to see sticks listed by other manufacturers too to compare.

Before realising that the stick number is meaningless, I ordered a pair of "9A" sticks thinking that I'd have something resembling the weight of a straw to play drums with which could be interesting to try. These are the heaviest sticks I have so far!

DrumStickPorn:
croppedDrumSticks.jpg
Here's what I'm mostly playing with in weight order at the moment;
Stag 7A - very low weight, maple, tips are leaving my kit looking like a saw mill (chippings all over the place, can't see them lasting much longer but I'd like to get a similar weight pair before these are done).
Custom 5A - came free with something, maple.
Nova 7A - one of my trial pairs I've been trying for variety, oak I think.
Tama 7A - a present, these are Japanese oak.
Road 9A - I think these are maple but they feel like scaffolding poles they're so heavy. I use them sometimes anyway, again just to see how it affects my playing.
 
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