Which Drum Sticks Do I Need?
Unbeknownst to many beginner drummers, there are dozens of different styles of drum sticks. Sticks are essential tools for drummers and we need to have different tools for different jobs. Even different sized sticks or different tip shapes lend themselves to different playing situations, and here at our music school near Brookline, MA, we want to show you all the different types of sticks you might be using when you play. Let's take a look at what a gigging drummer's stick bag may contain.
Different Drum Sticks, Different Sounds
Naturally, every drummer will have at least one type of stick that feels most comfortable. But it's not appropriate or practical to whip out a pair of tree trunks, like 2Bs, for a quiet jazz gig in a tiny room. Thicker drum sticks will make louder sounds. Smaller drum sticks will make quieter sounds. Makes sense, right? While medium-sized drum sticks, like 5As, can tackle most musical scenarios, utilizing different stick sizes for different playing styles will make performing a given style much easier. 5Bs will work nicely for the rock gig, while 7As will make playing quietly and controlled at a jazz gig a much more approachable task.
Drum Sticks for Different Gigs
The gig may even require the use of something other than sticks in order to achieve a particular sound or articulation. Hot rods are great for lower-volume rock gigs where you still need to drive the band without blowing out the ears of everyone in the room. If you're unfamiliar, hot rods are a bounded cluster of real skinny sticks. A bit thicker than a typical 2B, they're light for their size and offer a softer attack than regular sticks. They're not as responsive as regular sticks and may feel a little sluggish at first, but shouldn't take long to adjust to. Check out this nice demonstration of hot rods.
Drum Sticks for Low-Volume Situations
For super low-volume situations, especially if a jazz ballad is next in the set, brushes have your back. Brushes are an entirely different way to approach the drums. Drummers can sustain a constant wash of sound by scraping the snare drum, digging in a bit to create different rhythms and articulations. Brushes offer a very soft attack and require a specialized technique that doesn't really apply to any other stick type. While not practical for every musical scenario, brushes are truly unique in the way they're used and the sounds they produce. This tasteful performance exhibits some masterful brush techniques.
Which Drum Sticks Should I Buy?
At the end of the day, owning many different types of sticks will unlock all sorts of new sound possibilities. Trying out new kinds of sticks may alter your approach to the drums and force you to think more creatively. Learning how to utilize sticks, hot rods, and brushes will only make you a more versatile musician. And that will help you land more gigs.