Time for a new stick size?

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
So I've been heartily playing away in a live situation for the last four days. I've been dealing with having to play on strange drumsets causing physical problems, and thanks to a pinched nerve in my neck somewhere, my chiropractor is trying to help me deal with tingling hands due to a lack of circulation not due to any kind of carpal tunnel syndrome.

I've noticed when I'm really slamming (where I'm really trying to play the drumset oppressively loud - almost beyond where it would sound good), my hands are just taking a beating. A few times I've gone to sticking my hands in ice because they feel a bit swollen.

I've played regular old Vic Firth 5A's now for the past 20+ years. I'm wondering if maybe it's time to jump up in size, maybe to a 5B. I remember my first snare drum lessons when I was 8 or so, and the teacher hand picked out a pair of Ludwig 2B sticks to work out with on a pad. It was like when you're in grade school and you get those big fat pencils because they're just easier for smaller hands to handle.

I know probably most of you have different sized sticks in your bag already, but I've never operated that way. I've always bought a brick of sticks when I needed them (a 12-pair package of one size) but I never felt the need to carry different sized sticks. I always felt if I needed the extra weight, I'd flip the stick over and play with the butt-end.

But has anyone here gone to bigger sticks and has it helped you with over-exertive playing? I'm assuming it would help the same way I went to a 26" bass drum because I didn't want to have to beat a bigger sound out of a smaller bass drum. Just thought I'd get an opinion before I go to the shop tomorrow and pick up a few pairs of 5Bs to try.

It's funny now that I'm older I'm actively looking ways to make my heavy, loud playing easier on myself.
 

Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
Yep. Preferred stick size is a 5A to 5B, but I played in an agressively loud and OTT unit some years ago where I found best results with a much thicker 3A. Likewise for more mellow, acoustic type lounge settings I'll break out the 7A's.

Sticks are just tools mate. Pick the tool that best suits the job and let 'em do the work IMHO. You might not use a sledgehammer to knock in a thumbtack.....but when you've gotta break rocks, how glad are you to have the thing in your arsenal?
 

MLdrum

Senior Member
I completely agree with PFOG, sticks, mallets and brushes are all tools. I don't think anyone in their right mind have only one sized screwdriver that they also use for hammering and extracting crooked nails.. I have found 4 different sizes of sticks that work well for the different things I do: 2Bs, SD1s, 7As and a pair of Cooperman Nothung sticks. In addition to this I have brushes, broomsticks, 2-3 different rutes, a pair of those dual sticks (normal tip in one end and a felt ball in the other) and some retired melodic and timpani mallets. I even have a pair of timbales sticks in my arsenal.

And then add in that I study classical percussion. So I have tons of different mallets for different sounds and characters on different instruments. But still, I'm looking for more ;-)
 

Liebe zeit

Silver Member
I've just switched to trying out 5Bs since getting my Bonham kit. Two main reasons: the drums are bigger, so I figured bigger sticks would be better; and I also have the problem when un-miked with my band that I'm struggling for volume.

Also, I switched to nylon tips. I used wood tips up to now but they were constantly splitting and so my heads were getting hit with a sharp edge, which didn't bring out the fuller sound of the drum as I wanted
 

Thud

Senior Member
Have you tried Ahead sticks? I have a couple of pairs, 5A and 7A and they are certainly big sloggers. You can get grip tape to cushion them. They are supposed to be shock absorbing according to the box.

Swollen hands... if you can keep your arms above your shoulders it helps the circulation to drain it down.
 

Wavelength

Platinum Member
I used to play 7As and 5As but ended up cramping my hands if I had to play anything louder. Switching to 2B sized sticks certainly helped. I've used Vic Firth SD2s for a long time. They're beefy in diameter but very light toward the tip, so they're great for playing anything from pianissimo to forte -- and should you go beyond that, just flip the stick and the thick shaft will deliver as much force as you'll ever need.
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
I've used Vic Firth SD2s for a long time. They're beefy in diameter but very light toward the tip, so they're great for playing anything from pianissimo to forte -- and should you go beyond that, just flip the stick and the thick shaft will deliver as much force as you'll ever need.
Agree. Great well balanced stick.
 

Midnite Zephyr

Platinum Member
If you don't like the diameter of the 5B, you can also try the longer 5A Extreme. you'll get a little more weight and leverage on your strokes. Just a thought.
 

Jeff Almeyda

Senior Consultant
Try the 5B but, even more important, get a nerve test such as an EMG by a qualified medical doctor.

I don't want to get into a discussion on the validity of chiropractic but I assure,you that I speak from experience. Tingling hands are a common sign of nerve impingement. Chiropractic adjustments will not fix that. The best they can do,is offer temporary relief.

PM me if you like, I have been through what you are dealing with now.
 

drum4fun27302

Gold Member
I got older as well (47) and switched to power 5b's (extended ones) and tried the rock sticks from Vater (even fater). I love the weight and feel of heavier/longer sticks. I have been playing to rocks for about a year now and when I pick up a pair of 5a's , I feel lost. Give them a try , you won't have to hit as hard and it will sound better.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I'm thinking that they would only benefit you if you didn't hit as hard for the same volume. Otherwise it may aggravate the problem. but I really don't know for sure. If a drum is hit with a fixed amount of velocity, I wonder how many db's louder a 5B would be compared to a 5A. A thicker stick pulls a more fuller tone from the drum for sure, but I don't know about any db increase.
 

MrPockets

Gold Member
Vic Firth Magnum or Thomas Lang Signature should do the trick

But seriously, Extreme 5B's sound good for you.
 

Bull

Gold Member
When I was a kid, I played in high school band. I was used to 3S and 2B sticks. I used large sticks on my kit,2B,2S, sizes. I preferred Fibes sticks because they were longer than most. 16.5" length sticks were rare back then.

Over the years, I scaled it down to Power/Super/Extreme 5B models. Recently,I have been playing longer models that are slightly thinner than 5Bs. One day, last week,I dropped a stick and picked up a Zildjian "Rock" model out of the bag. I had never used it. It was sitting there for years. My snare sounded like a gunshot with very minimal effort..I had forgotten how good larger sticks make big drums sound. I have been playing the "Rocks" since that night. I am playing more relaxed than I have in years.

Larger sticks will reduce the amount of effort you have to put in.
 

lsits

Gold Member
Is the kit miced? If not is there any way to put a SM 57 on the snare and get it to the FOH someway? I don't know the specifics of your gig but I find that a mic on the kick and the snare (and sometimes an overhead mic) will take care of 90% of the volume issues I run into. If I need more for a festival type gig the sound guys will usually provide it. I use 5A's exclusively (either Vic Firth or Promark) when I'm not using 7A's or hot rods.
 

brady

Platinum Member
I have a few different sticks in my bag too. Whatever the situation calls for.

However, 5A is my 'big' stick. I'm not a hard hitter and the music I play just doesn't call for anything heavier. My only real step up from 5A is a 5A with a nylon tip. My other go to stick is the Vic Firth AJ6.

So you can see I don't have a lot of heavy arrows in my quiver.

You should definitely use whatever stick you need to get the job done. I even have two different weights of brushes too...
 

alparrott

Platinum Member
I had the hand problems you describe. I used to use 5As and during rehearsals I would not feel anything out of the ordinary. But when it came time to actually get in front of people, I would develop Claws of Death (tm) trying to grip the sticks at speed.

I played around with various sticks, thinking that I needed to stay with a 5A diameter and maybe only 1/8" to 1/4" extra length ("I'm a small guy"). Then I picked up a pair of Buddy Rich sticks, which are about 55A diameter and a bit longer (like 16 5/8"). They felt like heaven, except for that slippery white finish. So I switched to Vic Grip X5As. The balance and the grip felt great, but I was still getting CODs after about half an hour of energetic playing. So I bit the bullet and sized up to X5Bs. I've never been happier. I played a 40-minute set at church yesterday, and my hands felt great.

So yes, try a longer stick, or a 5B, or a stretch 5b, and consider a grip stick... We're living in a technological age of wonder. Remember when your choices were 5A, 5B, 7A, and 2B?
 

Jeff Almeyda

Senior Consultant
I'm thinking that they would only benefit you if you didn't hit as hard for the same volume. Otherwise it may aggravate the problem. but I really don't know for sure. If a drum is hit with a fixed amount of velocity, I wonder how many db's louder a 5B would be compared to a 5A. A thicker stick pulls a more fuller tone from the drum for sure, but I don't know about any db increase.
To geek out for a moment...

The volume of a drum, assuming all other factors remain equal, is directly proportional to the kinetic enrgy transferred from the stick to the drum.

The formula for kinetic energy is 1/2 the mass times the square of the velocity.

This means that increasing mass has only a linear effect. Increasing the velocity of the stroke has an exponential effect. Doubling the mass will double the kinetic energy while doubling the velocity will quadruple it (2 x 2).

Realize that increasing stick size will only give you about 10% more mass so now you have to move a heavier mass just for 10% more impact.

End result is that a heavier stick will not increase the volume by nearly as much as you think it might.
 

Furrow

Junior Member
If you hold your sticks close to the butt end my advice will not help. Zildjian 5B's to me have "that" balance point that enables a very relaxed power. Conversely they also enable me to play at quite a reduced volume too. Other 5B's do not seem to do this. Wish they came in Maple.

Chris
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
Thanks for the great advice. Yeah, I'm going shopping this morning for some 5B's. I'll take a 5A with me so I can see the differences.

But, no, this gig is not mic'd. Very old school/play to the back of the room loud. And that wouldn't be so bad if I wasn't having to project through cloth-covered risers in front of me and 40-50 kids dancing around. I do notice when I play normal in a big theater, I have no problem being loud. You just add all those sound-wave-sucking elements in front of me and much of the sound disappears. Don't think I haven't debated carrying my own PA in and doing a three-mic set-up!

So Jeff, what's an EMG test? Do I just mention that to my doctor and he should know what I should do or who to see?
 

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
Just thought I'd get an opinion before I go to the shop tomorrow and pick up a few pairs of 5Bs to try.
Sticks do matters, but for a comfort and feel of the stick POV, a 2B or a SD1 might not be your average jazz sticks, and a 5A or 7A is not your first choice for heavy rock, but not necessary, no rules apply here, to some extend, I can get a loud, powerful sound out of my Vic Firth SD2 or a light touch and soft sound from my Vic Firth SD9, it's more to do with the drummer and what stick feels comfortable to you.

I've just found a pair of old Pro-Mark 3A in oak the other day, I use to play them years and years ago, and I love the feel, they're not heavy sticks, but they're well balanced, and being made of oak, they're crisp on cymbals and hats, I did a search through Pro-Mark website, the model has been discontinued :(

Bo, take Simon Phillips as an example, he plays every type of music, from jazz to rock to metal...and everything in between, he uses the same hickory sticks, and has been for the last 30 years, before that he used the oak version of the same stick (Pro-Mark 707), he play the same kit too, proof that the sticks don't matters as much as we think it does :)
 
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