Buyers' guide: high-end drumsticks
26th Jan 2009 | 16:30
What you need to know before you buy
The high-end stick sector is dominated by the 'big five', which seem to be the most popular brands among most drummers, young and old, these days. With more manufacturers producing professional quality sticks than ever, you have never had such a large range to choose from.
This itself can be daunting for players of all ages when choosing a model if you're confronted by a couple of million stick butts in some of the larger drum stores!
The quality we're talking about here comes in the form of different woods (hickory, maple and oak are just a few), although the type of machining used in their production, the forming of good quality, consistent tip shapes and good matching in both pitch and weight are important across the board.
"Compared to sticks of yesteryear, when you'd have to sit there rolling them on a perfectly flat surface to see if they're anywhere near straight, nowadays there are a lot less 'bananas'"
Decide on a stick that feels great in your hands – don't just use what your favourite drummer plays unless, of course, that feels best for you. The weight and balance points can vary greatly, so at first pick a 7A, 5A or 5B and then choose a shorter, longer or heavier gauge stick from there.
Compared to sticks of yesteryear, when you'd have to sit there rolling them on a perfectly flat surface to see if they're anywhere near straight, nowadays there are definitely a lot less 'bananas' than ever before, and as such we should be grateful. So, without further ado, here are five high-end sticks we should also be grateful for…
5 high-end sticks from £7.99
Truly professional sticks. Many of Vic's beautifully finished popular wood-tip models are now available with nylon tips rather than just a bulky generic tip shape. Also, tips on the coloured models have been left with a natural finish so they don't mark your drumheads, which is an extremely nice touch.
The Vater company has realised that an extremely consistent range of strong, well-finished models that truly take care of business will cover all styles of music and last really well. This reviewer proudly endorsed Vater in the '90s, and even their beautiful 16" long 7A Manhattan model was articulate and never broke (even when playing with an extreme thrash-metal outfit, which is saying something!)
Simon Phillips, Gary Husband, Benny Greb and even Ringo Starr favour this Texas-based company and for good reason, as they produce lasting and articulate standard or customised models. From jazz icons to cheeky drum'n'bass beat masters and the hard hitters out there, they have dutifully provided some seriously popular wood.
Travis Barker and Horacio 'El Negro' Hernandez favour the 'Z' stick, which is currently touted as being 100% guaranteed straight. They're made from US hickory or maple, with some models available in Zildjian's non-slipping 'Dip' finish or their 'Anti-Vibe' construction, which takes the shock out of your stroke.
Joe Calato's company has definitely set a serious standard among the most discerning drummers, and it offers a truly comprehensive range of sizes that have been super popular with everyone from Jeff Porcaro to Dennis Chambers and Keith Carlock, who have all used Regal Tip's 8A model.