Drumsticks are an integral part of playing the drums. Finding the right sticks is the key to improving technique and speed on the instrument. There is a wide variety of drumsticks available on the market today and they range in size, weight, material, and design. When it comes to playing electronic drums, there are various factors which should be considered.
Electronic drums are usually not as robust as the average acoustic drum set. For this reason, we need to be careful about selecting a stick that is not too heavy to minimize the potential damage to drum heads and shells.
It’s worth noting that most electronic drum sets come with options to adjust the touch sensitivity. By adjusting the trigger sensitivity, you can determine how much force it takes to produce a sound on electronic drums.
Typically, for light-hitting players it’s a good idea to turn the sensitivity up. Alternatively, if you’re a heavy-hitter you may need to turn the trigger sensitivity down. This setting will make playing electronic drums a much more satisfying and realistic experience.
Be aware that electronic drums cannot withstand endless bouts of abuse. It’s quite easy to damage the internal components by playing too hard on electronic drum pads, there is only so much these drum kits will put up with.
Acoustic Drum Sticks vs Electronic Drum Sticks
Unlike electronic drum kits, there is no volume on a standard acoustic drum kit. The volume is determined by the size and weight of the drumstick and the force of the player. Acoustic drum set drumsticks tend to be a bit heavier for this reason.
The weight of a drumstick is down to the size and material. Most drumsticks are made from hickory which is a strong and light wood. Oak is commonly used, too. You can even get drumsticks made from more expensive woods like mahogany but bear in mind that these will cost more than your average pair of drumsticks.
That being said, let’s discuss some of the best options for electronic drumsticks out there.
Best Drumsticks for Beginners and Kids
When picking up the drums as an instrument it’s important to have the right tools at hand.
For young players, under ten years of age, it’s wise to go for a smaller stick like a 7A. This type of stick is light and makes for easy rebound on the drum heads. A heavier stick such as a 2B or 5B might pose a few difficulties for kids and has the potential to cause injury to the wrists. It also takes a lot more strength to move a heavier stick so playing fast will be harder and more tiresome.
Lucky many drumstick manufacturers have come up with suitable solutions for younger drummers all over the world. Kidsticks by Vic Firth are specifically designed for smaller drummers such as children. They are light and smaller in length than the average drumstick. When measured up against a typical drumstick they are around 20% smaller. For kids up to 8 this could be perfect. It depends on the individual child, but in most cases kids with small hands will love Kidsticks. Find out more about them here:
Drumstick Sizes Explained
There are many sizes of drumsticks. It can get pretty confusing if you’re not familiar with the terms. Here are a few of the basics to get you up to speed with what to look out for.
2B are heavy drumsticks, relatively speaking. These sticks might suit an adult playing a loud style of music such as metal or rock. Heavy sticks do a lot of the work with regard to striking the drums and cymbals. When it comes to electronic drums, having a heavy stick might not be a good idea. For reasons outlined earlier. It’s possible to puncture an electronic mesh head by playing too hard, so be careful here.
5B drumsticks are slightly lighter than the 2B. These are adult size and fairly common among drummers everywhere. These Anti-Vibe 5B drumsticks from Zildjian are ideal for electronic drum kit players. They are one of the best pairs of drumsticks for electronic drum kits as they cut down on the amount of vibration that travels through the drumstick. Vibration can be harmful in certain cases, especially when playing for hours without rest, and these sticks reduce the amount that is absorbed by the hands.
The 5A are a step lighter than 5B again. 5A are probably the most common and popular drumstick sizes for both acoustic and electronic drum kit players. They are light enough to play music such as jazz and yet still create the volume required for certain rock songs. It’s worth noting that lighter sticks such as 5A will be prone to breaking more easily if played under duress for long periods.
The 7A are lighter sticks than 5A and are popular among jazz drummers. They are nicely suited to electronic drums as the lighter weight means that it’s harder to cause damage to the instrument. 7A are also a good size and weight for a lot of younger players or beginners who don’t have as much endurance yet.
Types of Drumstick Tips – Nylon VS Wood
With all wooden drumsticks you also have the option of customising the stick tip. The most common alternative to a wooden drumstick tip is nylon. Nylon tips are more durable than natural wooden tips and give a different sound to acoustic drums. With electronic drums there is no difference in sound as the samples you hear are triggered internally. You can even play most electronic drums with bare hands and still trigger the same sounds.
With high end electronic drum sets, such as the Roland TD-50K, there is more nuance built into the modules. The TD-50K has a very advanced drum triggering system which allows it to be compatible with drumsticks and brushes. Sensors in the drumhead know when the player is using a stick or a drum brush and changes the triggers to suit the situation. Electronic drum kits with this level of technology are reserved for high-budget purchasers only.
Best Drumstick Brands Reviewed
There are many companies currently vying for the title of “best drumstick brand”. In reality most brands offer many of the same features with their sticks. Promark, Vic Firth, Vater, Zildjian, and Ahead are just some of the big-name brands associated with drumsticks.
Each player will have his or her favorite and this largely comes down to individual taste.
Different brands’ drumsticks mostly differ in the cut and shape of the stick. If we compare a standard 5A drumstick from Promark, Vic Firth, and Zildjian we will see that there is a difference in the taper, the tip, and the feel of the stick.
Each company has its own unique design for the taper of sticks which is unique to them.
This will affect the overall weight and balance of the stick. A gradual taper will mean that more wood has been removed and will mean less weight at the tip end of the stick.
Conversely, a short taper will lead to a heavier tip and in turn move the balance point of the stick closer to the tip.
Compare and contrast this selection of 5A drumsticks:
As you can see, these sticks differ in how they are made and shaped. There is also a different feel to each stick due to how they are coated. It’s always a good idea to physically hold a drumstick so as to get a good idea of how it feels in your hand, and how it performs on the drums.
Looking at the other options of drumstick we see that there are many alternatives out there.
If you’re a flashy player and like to bring a lot of showmanship to your performances, you may be interested in a pair of Hiptrix Glow-in-the-dark drumsticks.
These sticks are made from hard plastic so they’re quite durable. They’re also rechargeable so you can use them over and over. An average charge of these sticks should last approximately 12-20 hours, depending on the color you choose. They are available in green, purple, and aqua. The nice thing about these sticks is that they charge on natural daylight.
You can also use a blacklight which will yield better results and a stronger glow. Pricewise, these drumsticks come in around $70 online or in your local music store.
Some of the most expensive electronic drum sticks are usually celebrity signature models.
The LUSG model by Ahead Drumsticks are the signature model for famous metal drummer Lars Ulrich, of the band Metallica. This is the exact model that Lars uses when touring and playing live with the band.
These sticks are made from ultra-strong carbon-like material and have nylon tips. The size of these sticks are in-between a 5B and a 2B and they’re 16.25 inches long. The durability will appeal to hard-hitting drummers out there but fans of wooden tips will most likely not be interested.
If the thought of purchasing and storing a drum kit is too much for you to handle, then the Black Series Digital Drumsticks might be what you’re after. These sticks work without the need for a kit. They have built in sounds which are triggered when you swing the stick in the air. This is perfect for fans of air-drumming. The response is quite good from these sticks but it’s clear that they’re mainly either for young kids or as a novelty gift. If it sounds like something you or a friend might be interested in, you can check them out here.
If you’re good with your hands and are interested in making drumsticks, there are plenty of tutorials out there which will help you get started. Realistically, to make consistent and balanced drumsticks, you will need a lathe. Lathes are not cheap, but you may already know a carpenter that has one.
The first step is to find suitable wood for your sticks. Hickory or oak are ideal.
The next step is to cut the wood into small rectangular strips which are just over the length of the drumstick you will be making. The lathe works by spinning the piece of wood multiple times a second so that you can pare it down using a chisel-type tool. Safety is paramount here and always seek advice from a professional before you attempt to use a lathe. A face shield is also a must and you need to be careful not to get clothing caught in the moving parts.
This video explains the basics of making your own drumsticks:
When trying to find the best drumsticks for electronic drums you need to be sure of what is a good fit for you. There’s no point in buying an expensive and heavy pair of mahogany 2B drumsticks to only to play on a small electronic drum set. Chances are these sticks will be too heavy and will only damage the drum set in the long run. Finding the right weight of stick is key to finding the perfect drumstick for any electronic drum kit. You’ll need a stick that feels right in your hand and one that works just like an extension of your arm.
For adults, in most cases 5A will be a safe bet when it comes to electronic drums. This size of sticks are heavy enough to comfortably accommodate technique yet light enough not to damage components. For kids, 7A is a better choice, although it’s also worth looking at Vic Firth’s Kidsticks, as mentioned earlier in this article.
Have fun, have some patience, and good luck!
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