Sticking with sticks or switching sticks

Al Strange

Well-known member
I am not sure if anyone is worried about it, but if @Bozozoid can switch sticks and fix what could have been a serious medical problem, I don’t think it’s “something that doesn’t matter all that much”, this is powerful stuff.
I think you play what feels right for you in any given situation? If I’m only playing (insert signature stick here) because I want to play like someone else, or someone on DW says they’re the best, but I’m working too hard or can barely lift the sticks, it could end up in or exacerbate an injury. I empathise with what @Dr_Watso is saying, the stick itself isn’t the be all and end all; it won’t make you play better if your technique isn’t up to it. If your technique is up to scratch you could probably play with any stick to a decent level. I play VF STL’s but it doesn’t magically give me Thomas Lang’s hands! :unsure:
 
I switch sticks all the time. I've been playing off and on for 40 years and still haven't found the perfect stick yet.
Well, my favorite (Promark 11A) has been discontinued anyway, so it can't be the perfect one for me. :D Maybe it's less of a thing if you're an "established drummer" (technique down and doing similar music for years) but to me it's funny how that I hated very thin sticks first. Thicker sticks were more comfortable to hold because my grip was too loose and uncontrolled. Now, I kind of like very thin sticks at times...
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
I think you play what feels right for you in any given situation? If I’m only playing (insert signature stick here) because I want to play like someone else, or someone on DW says they’re the best, but I’m working too hard or can barely lift the sticks, it could end up in or exacerbate an injury. I empathise with what @Dr_Watso is saying, the stick itself isn’t the be all and end all; it won’t make you play better if your technique isn’t up to it. If your technique is up to scratch you could probably play with any stick to a decent level. I play VF STL’s but it doesn’t magically give me Thomas Lang’s hands! :unsure:
One aspect of signature sticks many players overlook is that they're tailored to the hands and technique of specific players. What works well for Danny Carey isn't ideal for a lot of other drummers, but people gravitate toward products promoted by accomplished names, sometimes hoping, perhaps subconsciously, to harness a hint of the endorser's magic. It's always wise to ignore a stick's label and focus instead on the comfort and efficiency you attain while using it.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
I am not sure if anyone is worried about it, but if @Bozozoid can switch sticks and fix what could have been a serious medical problem, I don’t think it’s “something that doesn’t matter all that much”, this is powerful stuff.
Someone is fixing a serious medical problem by switching drumsticks? Write the health journals bro!

I'm coming from the standpoint of someone who did worry too much about and try too many sticks only to end up realizing it's not a significant aspect of playing music. My time is way better spent on something silly like practicing or listening to music.

Seriously, just pick something that isn't at all fringe or hard to find, or too light. The detriments of a light stick far "outweigh" the supposed benefits. Use something in the middle and work on dynamics.
 

Alex Luce

Pro Drummer
I think you play what feels right for you in any given situation? If I’m only playing (insert signature stick here) because I want to play like someone else, or someone on DW says they’re the best, but I’m working too hard or can barely lift the sticks, it could end up in or exacerbate an injury. I empathise with what @Dr_Watso is saying, the stick itself isn’t the be all and end all; it won’t make you play better if your technique isn’t up to it. If your technique is up to scratch you could probably play with any stick to a decent level. I play VF STL’s but it doesn’t magically give me Thomas Lang’s hands! :unsure:
Yes, if your fundamental stroke is messed up, then no amount of stick changing is going to help you. I guess sticks are like tools in a tool box, and you need the right tool job—and using the wrong tool can make the job a lot harder!
What are STLs btw?
 

Alex Luce

Pro Drummer
Someone is fixing a serious medical problem by switching drumsticks? Write the health journals bro!

I'm coming from the standpoint of someone who did worry too much about and try too many sticks only to end up realizing it's not a significant aspect of playing music. My time is way better spent on something silly like practicing or listening to music.

Seriously, just pick something that isn't at all fringe or hard to find, or too light. The detriments of a light stick far "outweigh" the supposed benefits. Use something in the middle and work on dynamics.
That’s what he said, bro. My main stick is a 5A, which is right in the middle, I think. I am just saying don’t discount the power of the tool—the stick. There is a big difference between chopsticks and baseball bats
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
The detriments of a light stick far "outweigh" the supposed benefits. Use something in the middle and work on dynamics.
I agree, as the laws of physics are consummate on this point. Lighter sticks have less mass, and less mass means your hands have to work harder to generate volume. In addition, lighter sticks are inadequate shock absorbers. The greater a stick's mass, the more it protects your hands and wrists. Finally, light sticks often have smaller diameters. The thinner a stick, the tighter your grips needs to be to control it. Tight grips never promote hand health. Playing with the heaviest stick you can wield deftly and dynamically makes perfect sense on every count.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
Not sure if this has been a topic yet... I don't have a single stick model that I use all the time. Since I rarely break sticks, I have a bunch of good and pretty varied sticks that accumulated over the years. Using different ones seems to have been a pretty good (unintentional) exercise - not like "developing muscles with 2B sticks" but I feel like I learned a bit about motions, balance, sound, grip and such things by having to adapt to different sticks.
Or do you feel like you should just work on such things with one or two pairs of sticks that you use all the time?
I don't anymore, but I used to.

Back when I was really getting my technique together, I had a pair of VF STLs, and a HUGE pair of marching sticks (Wannamaker Corpsmaster or something). I found that using the large sticks exposed flaws in my technique, more obviously than regular sticks. For example, if I wasn't using all my fingers to stop the rebound after a downstroke, the excess rebound would be very exaggerated. I could feel the mistake, and I could also more easily see the stick jumping around after the impact. So now I use these sticks with students when we're working on things like accents or paradiddles. It's just much easier to see and feel how the entire hand needs to get involved in controlling the stick. Squeezing between the thumb and index finger, by itself, isn't enough to even come close to controlling that much mass. It's not about developing strength or speed; it's about developing a more holistic technique with the hands, wrists, and fingers.
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
Wouldn’t a stick with larger mass normally be stiffer, thereby transmitting more of a shock to your body?
Material influences stiffness more than mass does. Oak sticks are more rigid than hickory, and hickory is stiffer than maple. The AHEAD sticks I use, which are completely synthetic, have more flexibility than any type of wood and absorb shock much better as well (up to 50 percent better, to be exact). I don't have hand or orthopedic problems. I just like the feel of AHEAD.
 

Al Strange

Well-known member
Yes, if your fundamental stroke is messed up, then no amount of stick changing is going to help you. I guess sticks are like tools in a tool box, and you need the right tool job—and using the wrong tool can make the job a lot harder!
What are STLs btw?
Signature Thomas Lang (y)
 

Alex Luce

Pro Drummer
Material influences stiffness more than mass does. Oak sticks are more rigid than hickory, and hickory is stiffer than maple. The AHEAD sticks I use, which are completely synthetic, have more flexibility than any type of wood and absorb shock much better as well (up to 50 percent better, to be exact). I don't have hand or orthopedic problems. I just like the feel of AHEAD.
Yes, I have used all those sticks. I think I had a pair of oak 747s and man, were those were hard and heavy! I also remember having a pair of Aheads that felt kind of rubbery. I definitely don’t like the feeling that the stick is actually flexing when I hit the drum, but I guess that happens with all sticks to a degree.
Not having enough stiffness may have the same effect as a stick that is too light, now you are working harder to achieve the same amount of force in your stroke.
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
Yes, I have used all those sticks. I think I had a pair of oak 747s and man, were those were hard and heavy! I also remember having a pair of Aheads that felt kind of rubbery. I definitely don’t like the feeling that the stick is actually flexing when I hit the drum, but I guess that happens with all sticks to a degree.
Not having enough stiffness may have the same effect as a stick that is too light, now you are working harder to achieve the same amount of force in your stroke.
Yes, it's all highly dependent on technique and the feel you favor. One complaint I've heard about AHEAD sticks is that their lack of perceived vibration and stiffness doesn't provide a sufficient sense of feedback. That was my initial impression too. Fast-forward a few years, and wood sticks now feel like jackhammers to me. I've acclimated completely to the characteristics of AHEAD, so much so that anything else is uncomfortable.

Interestingly, AHEAD claims that its sticks rebound five percent better than wood models. I suppose that conclusion is debatable, but I've always found AHEAD's rebound to be adequate, and my style is heavily rebound dependent.

Promark Oak 747s are about as rigid as it gets. Only steel rods would be stiffer. Peart used Oak 747s for years. He also ended up with severe tendonitis. I wonder if the two were related. Maybe not.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
That’s what he said, bro. My main stick is a 5A, which is right in the middle, I think. I am just saying don’t discount the power of the tool—the stick. There is a big difference between chopsticks and baseball bats
I think 5a or 5b is a great choice. I tend to go with B because they're usually a little bigger around and easier to grip but the difference ain't that big. Also as mentioned you won't have any trouble finding them or using something else if you have to.

@C.M. Jones
The Ahead sticks weird me out TBH. I only tried it once and found it felt very odd. Do you change anything from the in box setup?
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
@C.M. Jones
The Ahead sticks weird me out TBH. I only tried it once and found it felt very odd. Do you change anything from the in box setup?
I apply white grip tape. That's my only modification. See the photo below.

You're not odd in finding AHEAD odd. Most players do early on. I was skeptical upon unboxing my first pair, but after a few weeks, I was glad to get on board.

AHEAD 5B Light Rock.jpg
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
2B or not 2B- that isn’t Even a good question. I’ve bought 2B,5A,,5B, 7A and specialty sticks after a person. I use to keep them packed in a stick holder on hi hats and until recent years I’d just grab two sticks and start playing- only to find later I had two different sizes. I honestly couldn’t tell but I got some of sensory processing issues I gave to my youngest daughter so I’ve always accounted that as difference. But in more recent years I do notice so now I’m thinking I’ve been a dumb ass all these years. One I’m more serious at practice, watching myself in mirror and zoom so I think I’m more conscious of everything now but I wouldn’t deny dimwit either. Now I’m on my posture - I told my wife I’m going to be kyphotic and look like the Hunchback of Notre Dame if I don’t watch my slumping while I play. I think Eastern philosophy that postural slumping influences the flow of forces in your body - that and pinching a nerve why chance it. After playing 7As for years I started having hand issues- so jumped to 2B for couple months and 5 As ever since with no issues.
 
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C.M. Jones

Well-known member
Now I’m on my posture - I told my wife I’m going to be kyphotic and look like the Hunchback of Notre Dame if I don’t watch my slumping while I play. I think Eastern philosophy that postural slumping influences the flow of forces in your body - that and pinching a nerve why chance it.
Phil Collins slouched for years while drumming and is now combatting spinal complications that make it difficult for him to play more than a few minutes at a time. Posture is paramount. A strong core helps immensely.
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
Just give up and get some brushes

My stick is the Colaiuta stick. I have a lot of tools in my stickbag, though. Sometimes the Vinnie's are just wrong, especially for very soft acoustic playing and maybe styles that have to be played unnaturally soft because of the venue. For that I have the Erskine Ride and Bigband sticks. I also have The John Riley stick, both the standard and the mallet combo.

I am essentially a one stick guy on the kit, but I see no reason someone else has to be and as said there are situations where some lighter sticks are useful.

In the bag I bring for orchestra things are a bit different. I have some I use more than others and the Vinnie stick also comes with me there, but I have the whole Pustjens line, The Tom Gauger stuff as well as a pair of SD2s. Choice of stick depends and in this case it's a lot about the tip and sound. People approach classical in different ways, but in my case it comes down to my 5x14 black beauty with die cast hoops, a piece of moongel that I take on, off, move around and this stick selection.


Now, do I have a whole bunch of sticks that I got just to try out. Sure, Tons. The ones I've gotten lately have been to find a replacement to the Colaiuta stick, but I've decided for probably the last time that that isn't happening, so I'll eventually have to make my own. I guess some custom maker could do it, but it doesn't seem like this is the type of service any of them offer. Since I will be making only one model and don't really go through sticks that much, I could probably get away with a pretty simple setup.
 

Hewitt2

Senior Member
Phil Collins slouched for years while drumming and is now combatting spinal complications that make it difficult for him to play more than a few minutes at a time. Posture is paramount. A strong core helps immensely.
And for the record he’s been completely out of the drumming game for coming on 10 years now. He does some hand percussion stuff in concert and announced that for the upcoming genesis reunion he intends to sit behind a kit “in bits” although those that follow him have heard this unrequited promise for years now.

Sorry just had to get that out there 😀
 

Alex Luce

Pro Drummer
I think 5a or 5b is a great choice. I tend to go with B because they're usually a little bigger around and easier to grip but the difference ain't that big. Also as mentioned you won't have any trouble finding them or using something else if you have to
Yes, I use Vic Firth 5As and then 5Bs for my AC/DC band, but I like the heaviest 5As and 5Bs I can find. I actually like the 5B barrel tip, because they seem heavier than the regular 5Bs...although they are a tiny bit shorter because of the truncated tip...which doesn’t bother me. But I had got a bonus pair of 5A barrel tips with some regular 5As I bought...and these actually felt too short when I was doing a paradiddle exercise at the drum set—like they weren’t getting to the center of the snare drum or something. Likewise, I tried the VF Extreme 5As, which are longer, and that was weird because the whole drumset now seemed to closer to me. I didn’t like that at all. So I guess I am “stick sensitive”. :LOL:
 
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