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Drumstick woods | Which type of wood makes the best drumsticks?

drumstick wood types

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Drumsticks are made from a range of different woods and other materials. But why are different woods used? What is the best drumstick wood?

In this guide, we are going to talk you through the different types of materials used to make drumsticks and what the benefits are of each.

Wooden drumstick guide

When you are buying a wooden drumstick there are two main factors to consider when it comes to the wood type. 

The weight of the wood and the durability. 

Take a look at our drumstick wood graph to see how the woods compare.

drumstick wood guide graph

If you are looking for more information on different drumstick sizes, check out our drumstick size guide.

Hickory Drumsticks

Hickory is the most common material used to make drumsticks. Hickory is the favourite of brands such as Vic Firth, ProMark and Vater.

Hickory isn’t the strongest of the wood used for sticks but it is fairly dense and hard. One of the best attributes of hickory is that it is a great shock absorber. This makes it easier on your wrists which is good for drummers who practice for long durations. 

Key features:

  • Medium weight
  • Good shock absorber 
  • Durable 

Oak Drumsticks

Oak drumsticks are often made from Shira Kashi Japanese Oak. Oak is around double the weight of hickory. Keep that in mind if you are going to pick up your usual size stick in oak.

Oak is a hardwood, therefore, having a longer lifespan. With oak drumsticks, you are less likely to break from rim shots and splinter away from hours of cymbal hits.

A few brands make oak drumsticks but ProMark are the most common choice.

Key features:

  • Heavyweight and durable

Maple Drumsticks

Maple drumsticks are lighter than hickory sticks. They are about 10% lighter. This is great if you like a thicker stick but don’t want the weight that comes with it.

Due to their low weight maple drumsticks are associated with faster playing. 

The main downsides are that maple drumsticks aren’t as common and are the most likely to break from the wood sticks.

Key features:

  • Lightweight and quick

Hornbeam Drumsticks

The most uncommon type of wood found in drumsticks is hornbeam.

It is lighter and less durable than hickory but it is more affordable.  

Hornbeam can usually be found in budget drumsticks.

Key features:

  • Low budget

Metal & Plastic Drumsticks

If you are looking for an alternative to wood drumsticks Ahead has created something for you. These sticks are made from an aluminium alloy with polyurethane sleeves that cover the shaft and shoulder of the stick.

Ahead drumsticks have many unique benefits over that of a wood stick. Mainly that they produce less shock making them far better for your wrist and elbow health. This is important for drummers who play a lot and have been playing for many years. 

These sticks are expensive to purchase but get cheaper over time as you only need to replace the drumstick sleeve going forward. 

Key features:

  • 50% less shock
  • 10% more rebound 
  • Last up to 10 times longer than wood drumsticks

Our thoughts

It is impossible to definitively say there is a best type of drumstick wood or material. Each player has their style and feel that they like to have from their sticks. 

For example, I play hickory sticks and have my whole drumming career except for a brief year playing Ahead sticks. In the end, they didn’t feel right for me and went back to hickory.

You also have to keep in mind that as drummers progress, they may want to change stick type to achieve different goals. This is especially common if you start playing at a younger age into adulthood. 

What’s your favourite wood type for your drumsticks? Or have you tried the Ahead sticks? Let us know in the comments.

The author

I’ve been playing the drums for over 15 years and I still love them! I am mostly a metal drummer but I am currently working on groove and applying rudiments to the kit!

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