So Many Drumsticks, So Little Time
There are many factors to consider when choosing between 5A vs 7A drumsticks. Each type of stick has its own advantages and disadvantages.
If you’re new to drumming, or if you’re unsure which stick is right for you, it’s important to try out both sticks and find which one feels best in your hands.
5a Or 7a Sticks?
It normally depends on personal preference, but it all is dependent on if you want to play with a thicker stick or a thinner stick.
A 7a stick is smaller in diameter and lighter than a 5a stick. If you prefer lighter sticks and the style of music you are playing requires lower volumes, than 7a would probably be the best sticks for you. If you require louder volumes, a 5a would be a better choice for you.
Different Drum Strokes For Different Drum Folks
Sometimes we may need more for our personal playing style though. There’s a little more to it all than just thicker and thinner sticks. Also, nothing is one-size fits all so let’s look more into different sticks, different sizes, and how to choose the right stick.
Best Drumsticks For You Explained
There are a few things to consider when choosing the best drumsticks for your needs.
The diameter of the drumstick (normally denoted by specific drum stick sizes) is important, as is the type of wood and material used, and the shape of the tip. Last but definitely not least, we can look at the taper and what that means.
- Different sizes and diameters of drumsticks
There are many different sized drumsticks that fall under a certain number and letter combination, with similar sized diameters across all brands.
I only say this because you should be looking at that number first when considering your pair of drumsticks.
Typically, you’ll see drumsticks denoted by either a 2, 5, or 7. This doesn’t include artist signature stick models or specific brand-special models. Those are normally somewhere in between those 3 numbers and have special names.
The lower the number on the stick, the larger and heavier the stick will be. Lower number sticks tend to be more popular with rock drummers, as well as louder genres (in general), and marching drums.
If you’ve seen a pair of marching sticks, you know because they are THICK. If you want to be louder as a drummer, larger sticks are your friends.
Higher numbers on a stick mean they are smaller sticks (7 is smaller than 5 is smaller than 2).
These are typically the best drumsticks to use with softer genres, such as jazz, bebop, or soft rock (more soft genres than that too). When the music requires quieter, controlled drumming, a thin stick will be your best friend.
The letters after the number used to be a part of a system (A stood for orchestra and B stood for marching and concert bands, and there are more letters, but we won’t delve into those 😉 ).
Each brand has their own system, but they try to keep these main numbers/letters to help defeat confusion.
“A” sticks tend to be smaller than “B” sticks, which makes sense because marching and concert band requires louder playing than orchestra.
So, based off of this, we know that 5A sticks are smaller than 5B sticks (click here to see my previous post about those sizes).
Something else we can look at that is not nearly as important is the length of the stick. Sticks normally run between 15 and 17.5 inches and it’s all personal preference there.
I don’t have any differences to mention because I’ve never noticed any in my playing with different length sticks. Some may say that the fulcrum point is different, but I completely beg to differ.
2. Type of wood/material used for drumsticks
Something else to look at when choosing a drumstick is what it is made of. Wooden drumsticks are the most popular type of sticks for percussionists.
Drumsticks are typically made from hickory, maple, oak, or birch, although there are a ton more (including exotic woods).
I won’t talk about any woods past hickory, maple, or oak though. These are the 3 most popular types of woods for drumsticks.
Hickory is the most popular wood for drumsticks because it is strong and resilient. Maple is also a popular choice because it is a bit lighter (around 10% or so) and durable, although not as durable as hickory.
Oak drumsticks are popular because they are strong and durable and even more-so than hickory, being oak is denser than hickory.
Oak doesn’t absorb as much shock as hickory though, which is a downside, especially with rim shots on your snare drum (ouch..).
Other drumsticks can be made of carbon fiber, which are 10x stronger than wooden sticks. This can make them especially ideal for drummers who play hard or aggressive styles of music. Carbon Fiber’s sound is a bit more open, with distinction especially on cymbals.
I’ve always found them to last longer, but they aren’t as comfortable to me (personally) as wooden sticks (hickory for the win in my book). These are just a few things you’ll want to think about when looking for sticks at the music store.
3. Nylon tips, wooden tips, shapes, and more
Something else you can look at are the tips of the drumstick and whether you want wooden tips or nylon tips. Wood tip sticks offer a warmer tone and will chip before nylon tips.
Nylon has the most durability and offer cleaner and brighter (more articulate) strokes behind the drum kit (especially on those cymbals). They are a good choice for beginners, offering consistent, audible strokes.
I’ve found that the tip of the stick can be fragile with nylon tips though, through my own experience. I always end up loosing the whole tip and then I end up leaving multiple dents in my drumheads. It’s essentially a wooden dowel (where the nylon tip sits on the stick). So, I personally steer clear of nylon tips.
There are also a variety of tip shapes to look for that offer different sounds/rebounds, such as acorn tips, drop tips, barrel tips, round tips, oval tips, and ball tips.
Acorn tips will give you a rich and full sound behind the drum set, while drop tips give you a warm sound with so lows.
Barrel tips are loud and punchy, but they are the heaviest tip types, which is great if you need to play loud.
Round tips and ball tips are essentially the same. They are crisp and clean. They are consistent with strokes because there’s no difference in sound regarding what angle you hit the drum or cymbal.
This also makes them perfect for young drummers or beginners, who are still working on their steady hands. Oval tips have the greatest range of sound (and feel and response).
For the tips that aren’t ball or round, they have offer you the most diversity in terms of your playing (utilizing different stick angles that produce difference strokes/sounds/etc).
Taper is another thing you can look at on your drum sticks. It’s how the stick narrows in diameter (from the full diameter to what it is right before the tip).
This has a lot to do with the stick’s rebound and balance. A short taper stick will be stiffer and better for rock music, while long tapers offer quicker response and dynamics for jazz music.
A medium-taper offers the best versatility, so it’s perfect for a wide array of genres.
4. My thoughts
Just so the struggle between 5a vs 7a drumsticks isn’t straining you, I personally have had different stick sizes in my stick bag over the years and I feel like it’s not a bad idea. This helps us be prepared for any music dynamics and be able to express ourselves differently.
I have played 5a and 7a drumsticks and would rather play funk music with the 5a sizes because there is more weight, so I can offer more to the music (we as drummers serve the music).
If I’m playing big band, I’d much rather have the 7a drumsticks, as I can play more feathery, while also offering some nice dynamics.
If I had a pair of 5b sticks for rock, I’d rather pick those (and that’s actually what size I regularly use now).
I have played with really thick sticks (2B and marching) and also really thin sticks (7a) and can tell you that it makes a difference regarding fatigue as well.
Heavier sticks can be more difficult to handle and cause your hands to get tighter, while lighter sticks aren’t really great for anything requiring you to hit really hard, but you are able to play so much faster. Although, this can allow you less control.
The bottom line is, whatever size, material, tip shape, taper, etc drumsticks you buy, the weight is something you’ll always think about. Heavier drumsticks are better for players who want more power and control, while thinner sticks are ideal for speed and accuracy.
The Best Sticks
I know that it can be intimidating looking at so many different sticks and trying to compare them and figure out what works for you.
So, whether you are comparing 5a vs 7a drumsticks or any other sizes, you’ll know which one is right for you!
If you’re a beginner, then you don’t need to worry about these types of things. 7A and 5A are both great for beginners. Both sticks are easy to play, so choose which one feels best in your hands.
Your Thoughts On The Right Stick
If you like this, please let me know by sharing this post with your friends on Facebook and Twitter. What are your thoughts on different drumsticks? Let me know in the comments!
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Until next time!
– Evan C