Drumsticks are extremely personal to every drummer. We all have a feel we want to have from the sticks and a sound we want to get from them.
Although drumsticks do seem simple at first glance, there are many details to consider when making your choice.
In this drumstick size guide, we are going to look at the different elements of the stick and what these areas affect.
The drumstick size guide explained
This drumstick size guide is going to cover the different elements of the sticks and how the different options affect the sound and feel.
This guide doesn’t cover the different woods available. That is a big topic that needs its dedicated feature. For our guide on the different drumstick woods, check this article.
The anatomy of a drumstick
A drumstick is made of a handful of different elements.
- Body/ shaft
- Balance point/ fulcrum
- Grip area
The tip is a key part of the drumstick as it touches your drums. The shape and material has a direct effect on your should but doesn’t have a huge impact on the feel.
Drumstick tip material
There are two options when it comes to the material that makes up the tip.
- Wood – the tip is carved from the same piece of wood as the rest of the stick. In general, there are more tip styles available in wooden tips.
- Nylon – the tips is created from nylon and is glued onto a wooden stick. Nylon tips on drumsticks are incredibly durable and will outlast the rest of the stick. Nylon tips also produce a brighter sound than wooden tips.
Drumstick tip shape
There are multiple tip styles available when it comes to the tip. Hybrid models are also available that sit between the standard shapes.
Barrel tip drumsticks
Barrel tips are stubby much like the shape of an actual barrel. They produce a bright and articulate cymbal sound.
Oval tip drumsticks
The shape is very similar to that of the barrel tip but fatter at the centre point removing the flatter sides. Oval tips produce a full sound.
Round tip drumsticks
Round tips are essentially a ball on the end of your drumstick. The shape helps to accentuate the cymbals sound. The shape is popular amongst jazz drummers.
Taj Mahal tip drumsticks
These tips are fatter at the beginning of the tip and then become narrower at the top. This diverse shape allows you to get multiple sounds from the stick depending on the angle you hit your cymbals.
Teardrop tip drumsticks
The shape is similar to that of the taj mahal tip but it isn’t as fat at its widest point. Due to this, the tip gets a lot of surface contact with the cymbal. This produces a rich sound. Teardrops tips are the most common tips found on drumsticks.
The shoulder of the drumstick can have a drastic impact on the feel of the stick. It greatly changes the weight distribution of the stick and the balance point of the stick.
The type of shoulder styles is referred to as the taper.
If you have a long taper you have a long transition between the body and the tip. A shorter taper has a shorter transition between the body and the tip.
A short taper pushes more weight towards the tip of the stick. This moves the balance point further towards the tip also. The shorter the taper the faster the response making them popular amongst faster players.
Drumstick grip area
There are two most common finishes for drumsticks. Lacquer or natural. In recent years manufacturers have been creating new options for the grip area of the stick.
- Lacquer – a slick feel that is moisture resistant.
- Natural – no lacquer. A tight grip but susceptible to moisture.
- Custom grips – manufacturers are producing new grips to help drummers get a better hold of the stick in different situations. There are too many to list though as they vary by brand and each brand is trying something different.
The diameter of the drumstick has a big effect on the overall feel of the stick. A thicker stick will feel different in your hand due to the size. The stick overall will be heavier and the stick will likely be more durable.
The diameter of a stick is very personal to the drummer and it is impossible to know what is right for you without going to a drum store and giving some a try. Or you could order a selection of sizes to try at home.
The majority of sticks have a diameter of around 0.57″ (1.45cm).
Much like the diameter of a drumstick, the length is subjective to the player. A longer drumstick will give you more reach but it will increase the overall weight of the stick.
The majority of sticks are around 16″ (40.6cm) long. That being said, longer drumsticks are being introduced to the market by manufacturers. An example of this is the Vic Firth American Concept Freestyle Drumsticks.
The length and diameter are the determining factors in the overall weight of the stick.
When you are looking for a stick it is key to find one that has a comfortable hand feel, reach and weight. You need to balance these three factors.
If you have a stick that is too heavy it is going to hinder your playing.
If you are starting to play the drums at a younger age, you will likely want to progress to a heavier stick as you grow.
Drumstick sizing guide
When shopping for drumsticks the sizing can be confusing. What do the numbers and letters mean?
The basic rule is that the higher the number, the lighter the stick. The lower the number, the heavier the stick.
The letter historically determined the application.
- A – orchestra
- B – band
- S – marching
- D -dance
This is no longer the case. If you find a drumstick that feels use it how you wish.
The most common sizes are:
- 7A – diameter .540″ (1.37cm) length 15.5″ (39.37cm)
- 5A – diameter .565″ (1.44cm) length 16″ (40.64cm)
- 5B – diameter .595″ (1.51cm) length 16″ (40.64cm)
- 2B – diameter .630″ (1.6cm) length 16.25″ (41.28cm)
With 7A being the lightest and 2B being the heaviest.
If you have no idea where to start, try a 5A. This is the most commonly used size. From this medium size stick, you can determine if you need to go heavier or lighter, longer or shorter.
Drumsticks are extremely personal to each drummer. When a drummer finds a size that fits, they like won’t change.
Take your time finding the size that works for you. Order some pairs, give them a go and keep trying more until you find the perfect pair for you.
It is worth taking your time to find the pair that feels best to you. If you are going to be playing for years and almost every day, a comfy pair of drumsticks is crucial to your overall enjoyment and development.
I hope our drumstick size guide has helped you find the perfect pair for your playing.
What is your favourite drumstick? Let us know below.