When do you retire a pair of sticks? (No breaks)

When do you retire a pair?

  • When it's moderately dented (light wear)

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • When it starts to chip/flake/splinter (med wear)

    Votes: 24 51.1%
  • When it's whittled down to nothing and I get splinters every time I pick them up (heavy wear)

    Votes: 12 25.5%
  • Other (I will explain myself)

    Votes: 11 23.4%

  • Total voters
    47

Drumolator

Platinum Member
I do not remember the last time I broke a drum stick. I only use wood-tipped sticks, and I throw them away when the tips get soft. Peace and goodwill.
 

Al Strange

Well-known member
If one or both stop feeling/sounding right I retire them... I usually wear the shoulder and middle (I rimshot!) and in my youth when money was tighter I would play worn sticks to death in rehearsals. They would typically break eventually at the shoulder and like the guys above I’d either bin them or if decorating use them to stir paint/wallpaper paste... (y) :D
 

gish

Senior Member
Well, for years using primarily VF sticks, the wood tips would typically go well before the body of the stick was excessively worn. Once the tip was split, the stick would get tossed. I switched to Vater 5Bs 5-6 months ago, and am still on the first pair. Lots of home practice, multiple band rehearsals, and 1 gig. The tips are 100% intact; I am shocked. I don’t kill my drums but I do play a fair amount of rimshots. The shaft is just starting to splinter, so these will be going in the fire pit in the near future. Astounded at the durability of the wood tips on these Vater 5Bs; I sure hope this is the norm!
 

wraub

Well-known member
Well, for years using primarily VF sticks, the wood tips would typically go well before the body of the stick was excessively worn. Once the tip was split, the stick would get tossed. I switched to Vater 5Bs 5-6 months ago, and am still on the first pair. Lots of home practice, multiple band rehearsals, and 1 gig. The tips are 100% intact; I am shocked. I don’t kill my drums but I do play a fair amount of rimshots. The shaft is just starting to splinter, so these will be going in the fire pit in the near future. Astounded at the durability of the wood tips on these Vater 5Bs; I sure hope this is the norm!
This has also been my experience with Vater sticks. I have a still new backup pair on my bass drum, and the pair in use which just keeps going and going and....
 
I play nylon tips, so if something happens to the tip, I turn the stick around and use it for my snare hand on louder songs. Otherwise, my sticks have never gotten as chewed up as some YouTubers sticks apparently frequently do, but I can usually feel a few hours of playing time in advance when a stick is about to break, and I'll keep using it for practice until it finally does.
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
When I compared the retired sticks to the "new" sticks, I discovered a significant reduction in mass around the stick shoulder. I'll probably retire the sticks sooner next time . . .
And that "significant reduction in mass" affects not only playability but also shock absorption. As mass decreases, your hands are vulnerable to greater forces on impact. Even with a loose grip, persistent exposure can take its toll.
 

opentune

Platinum Member
I prefer wood tips but they chip too much, so switched to using nylon tips just for durability.
When the shoulders are finally too thinned, I leave the pair out on hikes, along the trail . They always get taken.
My hope is some hiker gave them to his niece or nephew and turned them on to drums.
 
I play rimshots a lot so my sticks almost always wear down in the middle first. I usually retire a pair of sticks from live playing when they have a moderate amount of wear. But in the practice room, I'll keep playing with them until they're REALLY beaten up - the point where I can easily snap them in half. Don't wanna be wasting sticks!
 
I've moved to Vater sticks almost exclusively over the last three years, and I mostly play their 5A and 5B models. Recently I've been trying the New Orleans Jazz and Super Jazz models. The durability as result of the added moisture content is what does it for me, particularly with the thinner, longer tapered Jazz models. One day I'll get around to trying Ahead's 5B Light Rock model, but I don't do much in the way of rim shots, thus, I don't break sticks, just wear down the tips.
 

Jeremy Bender

Platinum Member
If the bead is chipped or the wood is old and dried making the sticks lifeless for rebound, I throw them out.
 
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BruceW

Senior Member
I probably go just beyond "when it starts to chip/flake/splinter", but not so far as the next option (I'll never let them get to the point of the grips giving splinters).

When I was a kid, I used to break sticks regularly. I took a 20-some odd year break, and oddly enough, I don't break them any more. I've thought about this quite a bit. I have come to the conclusion that it's a combination of a couple things. I doubt seriously that my "technique" has gotten measurably better, but I expect that I don't play nearly as loud as I used to. And I pretty much stick with VF sticks nowadays, whereas when I was a kid I would grab them from the cheap, no-brand bucket. That combination is likely the reason why I end up with lots of chewed up sticks but very few broken ones. Just a guess...

When gigging regularly, I buy a new pair or two every 5-6 months. Mostly cuz I want some fresh ones, not cuz I have to, the chewed up ones are still functional. I use nylon tipped sticks, so the ride and hat sound is essentially the same, regardless of how chewed up the shoulders are.
 

dwsabianguy

Senior Member
I rimshot religiously. It's the sound I want out of my snare 90% or the time.

Sticks get replaced when they no longer sound good, which changes per stick, but it's almost always due to the middle of the stick fraying.

I haven't had one of my VF 5A DoubleGlaze wood tips go bad yet (knock on... wood?) but I've had other sticks' tips go bad almost immediately. Custom-made sticks, no less.

With Cygnus rehearsals I'm playing through my old pairs of sticks butt ends out, so they're getting a second life.
 

Living Dead Drummer

Platinum Member
I recently retired a pair of Jojos that lasted me a year. When I picked up a new pair that I'd bought years ago, the white paint already turning yellow from just sitting around waiting its turn, the weight and feel of the stick were off. When I compared the retired sticks to the "new" sticks, I discovered a significant reduction in mass around the stick shoulder. I'll probably retire the sticks sooner next time, rather than sanding off the splinters.

When I was playing jazz, the Peter Erskine's lasted past the no-tip all the way to the shaft break. No guilt in replacing a stick there.
View attachment 104324


This is a great photo comparison. I toss the sticks when they look like the ones all the way on the left.
 

rhumbagirl

Senior Member
This is a great photo comparison. I toss the sticks when they look like the ones all the way on the left.
I don't actually throw mine away. Maybe I think I'll be famous one day. But I'm starting to wonder if the ones on the left, which are considerably lighter, could be repurposed as jazz sticks. What could be used to seal the splinters after a mild sanding? I've already fixed cracked sticks with wood glue.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
The only time I break sticks is at gigs. Not very often, but it does happen, usually due to over exuberance / poor technique.

In all other scenarios, it's chipped tips that decide fate. I have no issue creating new used pairs. My simple playing doesn't necessitate finely tuned anything.
 

MntnMan62

Junior Member
For me, there are generally two points in which I retire a stick. Either the neck of the stick near the head gets whittled down so thin that it eventually just breaks off or the body of the stick whittles down to a point where a good rimshot or cymbal crash causes the entire stick to just split in two. As a result, my snare rims mostly as well as the toms end up with collections of splinters between the rim and the head. Also my rug is covered in splinters. The splinters also tend to collect in the "tray" of my DW7000 base drum pedals. Once the stick breaks and I can no longer use it I put it in a pile and it ends up being burned in the Chimenea.
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
Using Vic Firth 3A's

I play rim shots on every snare hit except in my low volume swing band. Mostly shoulder on the hi hat, so the shoulders get moderately fuzzy

I am also in the camp that will go until the tip is not usable anymore. I rarely break sticks, and hit medium aggressive. One pair of sticks can last me 6-8 moths of regular practice/playing. Practice drum set about 12-15 hours a week. All styles.

I have never broken a head playing - they always pull out or wear out due to age.

I feel like my technique helps me avoid the breakage and unnatural wear. I do play aggressive - especially at shows - but I feel like it is an ergonomic, "sensible" kind of aggression...
 
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