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Whether they’re used to bring out a beat, like in Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean,” or being used for a melodramatic mid-song fill, like in Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight,” a set of drums sticks is like the magic wand behind many of your favorite songs.
While there are hundreds of drumsticks available online, a good set of drum sticks need to be worth their weight in wood. Different types of trees, wood grain and densities will all affect the way the sticks feel in your hand, and the sound coming off the drums.
Before you purchase a set of sticks, consider what kind of drummer you are, and your playing style. Playing in a rock or metal band? You’ll want a thicker, weightier pair of sticks that can really take a beating.
If you’re going for more of an acoustic vibe, or want to drop a faster beat, you’ll want a lighter pair of sticks that can easily roll between your thumb and index finger. Thinner sticks are best for softer sounds, and will let you create more delicate percussive backgrounds too. Above all, make sure your drumsticks are comfortable in your hand, weight-matched and made with good quality wood.
Most drummers strike their drums with the tip of their drumstick, and tips can come in various shapes, including teardrop, barrel, acorn, oval and round. Different tips will create subtle differences in sound (think lighter, “higher” sound versus deep, full sound, and all the levels in between). Some rock drummers, meantime, prefer to use the “butt” or the lower end of the stick to hammer at their kit rather than relying on the narrower tip.
We’ve found some solid sets of drumsticks that give you a good grip, consistent hitting and long-lasting durability, whether you’re jamming out in the garage, marching in a parade, or taking your show on the road.
1. Vic Firth American Classic 5A Drum Sticks
These top-tier drumsticks are a favorite for Of Monsters and Men’s Arnar Rósenkranz Hilmarsson, who likes them for their well-balanced weight, comfortable grip, and light playing touch.
Users say the teardrop tip produces a rich and bright sound on the cymbals, while the smooth shaft rolls easily between the fingers, making this well-suited for lighter and faster playing.
The number on a pair of drumsticks is used to describe the weight and diameter of the stick followed by one or more letters to describe the tip. The higher the number, the lighter the stick. These 5A sticks are considered a standard size, with a sturdy, even feel. They come in at 16 inches long.
PROS: Well-balanced weight and feel. Made in the USA.
CONS: Not recommended for super intense drumming as they could start to crack.
2. Promark American Hickory Classic 5A Drumsticks
Made from American Hickory wood, these drumsticks are known for their consistent sound, resilience and long-lasting durability.
Users say the sticks are comfortable in the hand and easy to control, with a responsiveness that allows for more precise and accurate hitting, and balanced rebound. The oval tips provide warm, well-rounded sound across all levels (highs, mediums and lows).
Promark says they are the only drumstick maker in the world to operate a sawmill, allowing them to control the entire manufacturing process from forest to final product. These sticks measure 16 inches long.
PROS: For every purchase of Promark sticks, the company will plant saplings on family-owned farms in Tennessee to replace the trees used.
CONS: Some users say the sound is not as full if you’re using these as cross sticks on a snare.
3. Donner Snare Drum Sticks
Made from high-quality maple wood, these drumsticks from Donner are lightweight, yet durable, and can really take a beating.
Users say the 5A drumsticks can be used on both real acoustic drums and electronic drum kits, with the teardrop tip offering deep, dark sounds. The shaft is polished with a non-slip surface, making the sticks easier to hold onto, and reducing wrist fatigue.
Whether you’re acing that drum roll or banging it out on an aggressive solo, the well-balanced sticks stay in your hand and won’t crack under pressure… literally.
PROS: 30-day money-back guarantee.
CONS: Best suited for snare drums.