Choosing Some Drumsticks?
Finding the best drumsticks can be hard for any drummer. With so many choices, where do you even begin? We can help you find the right sticks!
The Mother-load Of Sticks
The best drumsticks are the following 10 based on ratings, reviews, and versatility:
- Promark Classic Forward
- Vic Firth American Custom Drumsticks – General
- PROMARK Japanese White Oak Drumsticks
- Vic Firth American Classic Extreme Drumsticks
- Vater Power Sugar Maple
- Ahead Rock Drumsticks
- Promark Hot Rod Sticks
- Zildjian Black DIP Drumsticks
- Promark FireGrain
- Vater Nude Series Drumsticks
Stick Choices Galore..
While these drumsticks all have a proven track record, I wanted to go into why each one is great!
Different sized sticks will be discussed, with an emphasis on some the most popular sizes, although you always have other options. The best thing for you might not be for someone else, so let’s get to gettin’!
The Best Drumsticks Explained
1. Promark Classic Forward Drumsticks
Promark sticks are a great choice for any drummer and for a good reason! Founded in 1957, they make mallets and sticks to fit any drummer playing any style and each pair is made from high-quality materials.
They use wood that’s not endangered, so you can rest assured knowing they’re making a great impact on the environment along with sturdy sticks!
These Promark Classic Forward sticks are a size 5a, which means these are some medium thinner sticks, which is a good option for many styles including rock, funk, fusion, and blues!
Although, they have different sizes if you don’t want 5a. They are make from hickory wood, featuring oval tips and a short taper, which again just means they are an all around versatile pair of sticks with increased power (longer taper is good for softer styles, while shorter taper is good for heavy hitters).
These have wood tips, but fear not, you can get some with nylon tips as well/instead! The length is 16″. Drummers have said these sticks are very durable and that the balance is perfect.
It’s also been said you can get a heavier sound with these, without the weight (perfect for rock) and that the tips don’t chisel away like some other sticks.
I have heard complaints of the sticks not lasting as long or that the tip chips. I have been using Promark for several years and in my opinion, they make some of the best drumsticks available.
I’ve never had issues of them breaking when compared to other brand sticks and they always feel solid to me. These 5a specific sticks are my go to and I play several different styles of music.
- Extremely durable
- Well balanced
- Potential drum tip chip
2. Vic Firth American Custom Drumsticks – General
Vic Firth is another brand who makes some of the best drum sticks as well. The American Custom is one of the most popular sticks on the planet.
It’s got a short taper (shorter taper = better for heavy hitting), so it’s perfect for rock music, but it’s used in orchestral work as well as many other styles.
They are also widely recognized as great practice sticks. They feature round wooden tips and the size equates to 2b, so the first stick we discussed is a lighter stick than this one.
However, these are made from maple and maple is 10% lighter than hickory. The round tips help bring out a crisp and bright sound with great bounce, so it’d be ideal for young drummers.
The length is 16 3/8″. Drummers have said the weight of this stick is perfect and you still get finesse when using a larger 2b size. I’ve also heard they help open up your rolls and other rudiments.
A complaint I’ve heard the quality isn’t the same and that they’ve been known to break in the same place below the fulcrum point.
I have used these sticks in the past before and enjoyed the way they played for me. I don’t use Vic Firth as much anymore, but I can’t deny the quality of them. I do have a pair I like to use on my practice pad.
- Opens up rudiments
- Perfect finesse
- Potential break below the fulcrum point on the stick
3. Promark Japanese White Oak Drumsticks
Promark is going to be on this list a few times. These Japanese White Oak sticks have oval tips, a medium taper and are 16″ long.
They are perfect for so many genres like rock, country, and pop to name a few. Oak drumsticks are pretty popular because they are strong and durable and even more than hickory.
Oak is denser. Take it easy on the drum heads with this one! I linked to the 5a sizes because it’s a solid size. These sticks are made to resist chipping and wearing soft.
Drummers have said these are balanced, have a solid, natural feel. A complaint I saw was about someone order a pair with nylon tips and the tips falling off after a bit of band practice.
To me, that’s not a dig on the stick, but nylon tips. I’ve never been a fan of nylon tips. I’ve used these sticks and they produced some great snare drum rim shots.
Although, oak doesn’t absorb as much shock as hickory, so you can feel the rim shots. I’ll agree that they still felt fantastic to play. Also, oval tips in general have the greatest range of sound (and feel and response). Promark makes some of the best drumsticks, I’ll say it again.
- More durable than hickory
- Well balanced
- Doesn’t absorb as much shock as hickory or maple
4. Vic Firth American Classic Extreme
The Vic Firth American Classic Extreme sticks are the drumsticks for power and control! They are especially a good idea for rock drummers, having a longer shaft for added power at 16.5″, these hickory sticks feature teardrop tip and are sized at 5b.
Teardrop tips offer great low tones and our of our choices so far, this is definitely a great value stick! It also has a medium taper, so we know that’s a sign of versatility.
You can get these different sizes in wood tip or nylon tip, which is awesome. Drummers have said these sticks have great power, enhanced control, and can take a beating.
Some complaints have been about the sticks eventually cracking and splitting at the shoulder of the stick. I used to use Vic Firth American Classics on a regular basis and enjoyed them.
They had the power and durability I needed for playing a lot of shows and practicing. However, when I moved down stick sizes I moved to ProMark. Still, we can’t deny that Vic Firth makes some of the best drumsticks.
- longer stick shaft for added control
- Great low tones from teardrop tip
- Potential crack at the shoulder of the stick
5. Vater Power Sugar Maple
Vater is another brand I have to talk about. Every pair of their sticks are computer matched by weight and tone to promote balance and even strokes.
These Vater Power 5A Sugar Maple sticks are made from hand selected sugar maple and are great for lower volume settings due to the maple, which also gives you an edge for light, fast playing!
They are 16.5″ long and feature barrel tips, which provide a good mix of power and punchiness, making them super ideal for a lot of drummers!
They have a short taper, so that also helps add that power you’re looking for. Drummers have said these sticks improve their sound and are well balanced and articulate.
I’ve heard they’re great for electronic drums as well. Some complaints are that they are a bit slippery in the hands. I’ve used Vater sticks before and can say they make quality durable products. I haven’t used these specific kind, but I can tell they are great based on the overall reviews I’ve read.
- Computer matched for even strokes
- Great for low volume and light and fast playing
- A bit slippery in the hands
6. Ahead Rock Drumsticks
Here is another stick that’s ‘ahead’ of the game. These Ahead Rock drumsticks are great for metal players and heavy hitters everywhere.
The company was born out of a trend seen in sports and that was that traditional baseball bats and hockey sticks were being replaced with aluminum ones.
These have a precision aluminum core, hard polyurethane cover, a vibration reduction system, and ergonomically designed handles.
These are made to be several times stronger than wood drumsticks and help reduce hand fatigue. The rock size is basically 5B and good for many styles of music where you need that extra oomph. The short taper helps the durability.
Drummers have said these sticks are really versatile and that you can really beat the crap out of them.
I’ve heard some complaints of them reducing your speed due to the weight though. I used a pair of Ahead drumsticks a long time ago and they were pretty solid. I went through a few pair of them, but they weren’t these specific ones. I liked how long they lasted compared to regular wooden sticks.
- More durable than regular sticks
- Ergonomic handles and vibration reduction system helps hand fatigue
- Speed reduction due to more weight
7. Promark Hot Rod Sticks
Promark is the creator of today’s rod drumsticks. These bundled-dowel sticks, made of birch, reduce volume and add some creative flavor to your drumming!
They have a lively natural rebound and are lighter than regular sticks. They’re meant to add more attack than brushes can and also have a fat, slappy tone, so really great for acoustic settings!
Drummers have said they can get a large dynamic volume from these and that they’re also awesome for working on technical playing.
Some complaints have been about the lack of durability in these. I have used these a few times in the past and always liked the experimentation with hem and the fact that they’re so different than regular sticks. You can really get a lot of cool ideas flowing with these.
- Large dynamic volume
- Great for technical and creative play
- Lack of durability
8. Zildjian Black DIP Drumsticks
These Zildjian Black Dip drumsticks give you better grip and absorption to protect your joints with their handles.
Their oval tips provide great response and articulation, while giving you a great versatile playing experience. These are 16″ long and made of select hickory for power and durability.
These 5A wood tip are the specific ones I’m recommending, although you have choices for some others, including nylon tips!
Drummers have said these sticks help alleviate pain and that they have great responsiveness behind the kit. Some complaints have been about the dip coating peeling off though.
I used to play Zildjian drumsticks in church all the time. They were pretty solid and I believe the pair of Black Dip drumsticks I played lasted the longest.
Also, Zildjian absorbed Vic Firth back in 2010 I think. So, I kind of see Zildjian sticks at the same quality as Vic Firth, who make some of the best drumsticks. They are solid for sure.
- Helps alleviate pain with special grip
- Oval tips provide great response and articulation
- Dip coating may peel off in annoying amounts
9. Promark FireGrain
These Promark FireGrain sticks are pretty cool! They have a scorched look because they’re made of heat tempered hickory for an even more durable stick choice.
There is also some added weight in the butt of the stick for better stick control. With these ones being size 2B and having a short taper, they’re perfect for pop, rock, and country and will give you the power you need.
These are 16″ and also have the acorn tip for a more full and articulate cymbal sound. Drummers have said there is great rebound with these and that fast patterns sound more distinctive.
A complaint I’ve heard is that they seem too heavy when compared to other sticks of the same size. I’ve had several pair of these and think it’s a nice addition to building your chops with the added weight. They are pretty durable as well. There are other sizes available.
- Heat tempered hickory provides more durability
- Added weight in in the butt of the stick for better control
- Heavy when compared to other sticks the same size
10. Vater Nude Series Drumsticks
These 16″ Vater Nude Series 5A drumsticks are perfect for any performance. The grips are well-balanced and sanded so it makes them slip proof.
They’re made of hickory and are heavier toward the tips for a a fast attack and response, so great for tons of cymbal work!
These seem like they would be versatile sticks and if you sweat they shouldn’t fly out of your hands. There are options for other sizes and even nylon tips.
Drummers have said these sticks feel great to hold and drum with and that they are also extremely durable. A complaint I’ve heard is of receiving an uneven pair of these which threw off the balance.
I don’t believe I’ve used this specific line of Vater sticks, but I have played with sticks with no varnish on them before and it does help a lot keeping a hold of the sticks.
- Well-balanced and slip proof grip
- Fast attack and response due to the tips
- Quality control may be questionable regarding receiving equal sticks
Some other things to think about:
There are those things to look at which I talked about briefly with finding the best drumsticks.
A lot of this really comes down to personal preference. The best sticks for you, may not be the best ones for me and there are a lot of choices for you at any decent music store.
You have tip shapes/material, different types of wood (also carbon fiber sticks), long taper vs. medium and short taper, and the size of the drumsticks to look at, to name a few.
This really comes down to your playing style and what fits your needs musically. Typically, lower numbers on a stick mean thicker sticks.
There are numerous reasons for going with any stick and it’s a good idea to have a stick bag with multiple different kinds of sticks near your drum kit.
You can read more about characteristics of drumsticks and a comparison of a few stick sizes in my previous articles here:
Click here to check out the 5a vs 7a drumsticks article!
Click here to check out the 5a vs 5b drumsticks article!
Although, I cover a lot here, there may be some other helpful information and maybe you’re looking into one of the those sizes.
The Best Drumsticks Can Vary
So, there are plenty of drumsticks to use with all of these recommended. There are also a vast amount of others you can find that’ll work just as well.
The important thing is you find a good pair of drumsticks that works for what you need! All our needs as musicians can be different and there are so many opinions out there.
Let Me Know Your Favorite Sticks!
So, what are you favorite drumsticks? Do you have any you’d consider your best drumsticks? Please let me know in the comments below!
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Until next time, stay attuned!