the left/right stick phenomenon.


Silver Member
I don't know if this occurs to you guys.

Picture this scenario.

You're woodshedding and you've got a new pair of sticks. You start off using them and pretty soon (or much later depending on how quickly you wear sticks) you notice that they've started to wear and tear. One stick has got more chips on the shoulder - must be those darn hats, and another is damaged severely down the middle - darn rimshots.

So, you think you're smart... you switch the sticks around! Now, they'll wear evenly.. and they'll last longer.

You start off thinking that you've just helped lengthen the life of your stick.


Somehow, unconsciously, when you were resting for a second and had both sticks in one hand or something, you realise your sticks are back to where they were before! The shoulder worn stick went back to the right hand and the rimshot one went back to the left? how did that happen?

You try swapping again and somehow or other after a while, you end up back where you started.

Has this ever happened to you? Because it happens to me a whole lot. I wonder if there is a strange way that your hands adapt to the intricate differences in each stick such that they can subconsciously tell the difference which stick belongs in which hand.

It's weird.

Please tell me I'm not alone on this.


Platinum Member
You're not alone. I like my sticks to be "pitch-matched", but somehow I always favor the heavier one in my right hand. It's SO subtle of a difference in weight. Or, perhaps it's actually the weight distribution of the stick. Either way, whichever one feels slightly heavier always ends up in my right hand...


You're definitely not alone. The same thing happens to me. I try to switch sticks once I see that one is getting a little more beat up because of the rimshots. But, somehow, it always winds up that the rimshot stick makes its way back to my left hand. I also realized that once sticks start getting beat up, the weight changes, as subtle as it may be, our hands are very sensitive to this and get accustomed to feeling the difference in the sticks. So when we switch hands, it actually feels weird. At least it does to me. So, unconsciously when I pick the sticks back up after putting them down, that left hand stick makes its way back to my left hand and the right stick to the right hand. I really have to make a concerted effort to try and wear the sticks out evenly.


Silver Member
I've been trying again and again to wear both sticks evenly but it just doesn't work.

I think it's also to do with the small surface texture differences in each stick. For example, I have one stick that I use the back end of (my left, cos I play trad and when I switch to match the butt is up) and it's a little rougher than normal. And I think my right hand feels weird feeling that rough surface.

This is pretty cool actually how our hands can subconsciously tell between such small differences.


Silver Member
I have another theory of what is going on with the sticks. I think it has more to do with the constant bending of the sticks. The High-Hat stick would get the most abuse a few inches away from the tip where it hits the side of the High-Hat. That stick would start to bend and get weaker like a paper clip that being continuously bent, until the paper clip breaks at the point of the highest stress. Like the paper clip that is about to break, the drum stick would start to become slightly more flexible at the point of higher stress. I believe that the drummer is able to feel that slight difference in the amount of flexibility in the sticks.

For wood, the more you flex it, the more the grains will start to separate. The high-hat stick will get more flexible a few inches from the tip and the snare stick will get more flexible at the fulcrum of the stick where the thumb and forefinger are holding the stick.

I believe this is more of what is going on then a slight difference in weight.

Get two glasses that are identical, fill one glass 7/8 full and the other 13/16 full, blind fold yourself and pick up the glasses one in each hand. I am not sure you can tell the difference. But if the sticks were the same except one had a spring a few inches from the tip, and the other had a spring a few inches from the butt, you could tell the difference if you just swing both those sticks in the air.


Platinum Member
I think this is okay. I usually play with two different sticks, longer or shorter, or a stick in one hand or rute, brush or something else in the other. I think the whole thing about precisely matched sticks is a bit silly and fussy. After a bit of wear and chipping, they will start to differ anyway.