Best Drum Sticks

Article Contents

Drumsticks are made in multiple lengths but most fall between 15 to 17-inches with the most distinguishing feature being the amount of taper between the shaft and the tip. Sticks vary in diameter, weight, and usually available in sizes between 2B (large) and 7A (small). Drumsticks come fitted with either wood or nylon tips with the most common tip shapes being round, barrel, and teardrop. Most drumsticks are made from wood for better control when performing basic and advanced techniques; some companies also craft sticks from alternate materials like metal and plastic. Additionally, many companies produce signature drumsticks designed to meet the specifications of professional drummers. For more help selecting the best drum sticks for your style of play, check out our buyers guide below.

Best Durable Drum Sticks:

All drumsticks are not created equal when it comes to their durability. The following is a list of the best durable drumsticks on the market, chosen based on criteria including their tip strength, shaft and grip durability, as well as their overall perseverance.

The tips of drumsticks are the first part to break and it often doesn’t take very long to simply chip one. Nylon tips are a good alternative, but they don’t sound as good as wood tips and can actually break off completely! The following five pairs of sticks feature durable tips which rarely chip and can even still be used with a chip or two.

These durable drumsticks all have shafts which won’t be shredded by high-hat or crash cymbals. Usually the shafts have a late taper, meaning they don’t lose thickness until they are quite close to the tip. This helps with durability because there’s a thicker part of the shaft absorbing crash cymbals hits. The grips on these stick shafts which also won’t fade or become dull.

We’re defining perseverance as the ability to produce good sounds from a pair of sticks after they’re damaged in some way. All of these sticks can still sound good with a chip in the tip or crack in the shaft. Obviously if you do break a stick, you should switch to a new pair as soon as possible but hopefully this won’t be necessary with these durable sticks!

Finally, as with all of the drumsticks we review, basic affordability has been taken into consideration for these rankings.

Vater Percussion Power 5A Wood Tip Drum Sticks

Vater’s power 5A drumsticks have the feel of a 5A stick, but are far more durable. Their round tips sound great and are almost impervious to chipping. Read Full Review

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    Vater Percussion Power 5A Wood Tip Drum Sticks

    Promark Hickory 747 Rock Wood Tip Drumsticks

    Promark has very high standards for quality control and they make very durable drumsticks. Their 747 Rock drumsticks feature a thick taper and oval shaped tips which prevent chipping and enhance their overall reliability. Read Full Review

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      Promark Hickory 747 Rock Wood Tip Drumsticks

      Vic Firth American Classic Rock Drum Sticks

      Vic Firth Rock sticks are almost as thick as marching sticks but are still appropriate for drum set playing. They’re the most durable sticks available if you can handle their heavy weight. Read Full Review

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        Vic Firth American Classic Rock Drum Sticks

        Ahead FatBeat Medium Taper Sticks Black Tip 5A

        Ahead’s FatBeat 5A drumsticks are the most durable sticks available because of their metal shafts and grips. They have replaceable tips and a shaft cover to prevent denting and while they have a different feel than wood sticks, they’re also much more durable. Read Full Review

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          Ahead FatBeat Medium Taper Sticks Black Tip 5A

          Vic Firth SSG Steve Gadd Signature Wood Tip Drumsticks

          Steve Gadd’s signature drumsticks are durable and versatile enough for multiple music genres. Their short barrel tips are very dense, so they’ll rarely chip, making them some of the most reliable sticks available. Read Full Review

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            Vic Firth SSG Steve Gadd Signature Wood Tip Drumsticks

            Best Drum Sticks for Rock:

            Rock music requires versatile drumsticks because there are many different subgenres requiring a change of feel. You need sticks which work well for all subgenres of Rock and able to produce a lot of controlled sound versus the volume required for Metal music. The following best Rock drumsticks were chosen based on criteria including their feel, sound, versatility, durability, and affordability.

            These best drumsticks for Rock all feel amazing and can be thought of as being an extension of the hand while the tips and overall weight produce wonderful sounds regardless of speed or volume. These sticks can all drive a heavy beat or float alongside a ballad making them most versatile sticks in a drummers stick bag; they feel great for not only Rock and all its subgenres. While all these picks are made to last, some are more durable than other which we’ll have noted in each review. As with all of the drumsticks we’ve reviewed, basic affordability has been taken into consideration for these rankings.

            Vic Firth SZ Zoro Signature Drumsticks

            The Zoro Signature drumsticks truly represent the company’s catch phrase the perfect pair. They’re balanced enough to play intricate snare patterns, but provide the necessary weight for a solid backbeat. Read Full Review

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              Vic Firth SZ Zoro Signature Drumsticks

              Zildjian 5AWN 5a Wood Natural Drumsticks

              I like Zildjian 5A drumsticks because they are like a 5A plus without the added bulk of extreme 5A sticks. They’re very easy to control but still create a lot of sound, absorb vibrations very well and are truly a joy to play. Read Full Review

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                Zildjian 5AWN 5a Wood Natural Drumsticks

                Vater American Hickory Pro Rock Drum Sticks

                Vater’s Pro Rock drumsticks bring the perfect combination of speed and power. The thin shafts are easy to move, and the tips create a big sound. Vater’s sticks are known for their durability so you can feel confident they’ll make it to the end of any gig or recording session. Read Full Review

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                  Vater American Hickory Pro Rock Drum Sticks

                  Vic Firth American Classic Drum Sticks 2B

                  Vic Firth’s 2B drumsticks can produce a big sound to drive a Rock Band. They are easy to control and can create effortless volume. They have a very rudimental feel and ideal for snare drum playing and Rock drum sets alike. Read Full Review

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                    Vic Firth American Classic Drum Sticks 2B

                    Vater Percussion 1A Drumsticks

                    Vater’s 1A drumsticks are my favorite sticks for loud Rock playing. Well balanced and easy to control, the added length gives them the extra power needed to carry a Rock Band. Read Full Review

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                      Vater Percussion 1A Drumsticks

                      Best Drum Sticks for Jazz:

                      The drumsticks used for Jazz music are usually quite different than sticks used for other genres due to the emphasis on the ride cymbal in most Jazz music. This particular cymbal is played more in Jazz than any other musical genre, and it’s often utilized with a different stroke to achieve the right amount of swing.

                      The following best drum sticks for Jazz on our list consistently feel and sound the best when playing Jazz music. They were selected based on criteria which included their feel, sound, durability, and affordability. All of these sticks have a very unique feel for playing jazz music since they can swing a ride cymbal better and are well-balanced overall. The tips of these sticks sound great on the ride cymbal and they also maintain precision on the snare drum. Jazz sticks usually don’t take as much of a beating as those made for other genres, but these picks stand out for their superior durability thanks to high quality woods. As with all other drumsticks reviewed, basic affordability has been taken into consideration for these rankings.

                      Vic Firth Jack DeJohnette Signature Drum Sticks

                      Jack DeJohnette’s signature sticks by Vic Firth have a unique feel great for Jazz music. Designed by one of the all-time great Jazz drummers, and produced by one of the highest quality drumstick makers, I’ve used these sticks since high school, and still my favorite for Jazz music. Read Full Review

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                        Vic Firth Jack DeJohnette Signature Drum Sticks

                        Vic Firth American Classic 8D Drum Sticks

                        Vic Firth’s 8D sticks are great for Jazz drummers looking for a tight and controlled sound. They have all of the great qualities of 7A sticks but with a bit more needed length. They’re perfect for Rock drummers looking to soften their attack for Jazz. Read Full Review

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                          Vic Firth American Classic 8D Drum Sticks

                          Vater Manhattan 7A Drum Sticks

                          Vater’s Manhattan 7A drumsticks are extended sticks which feel very well-balanced. They’re the most durable stick available for Jazz playing and offer a controlled feel. The round stick tip gives them a unique and truly exceptional sound. Read Full Review

                          Vater Manhattan 7A Drum Sticks

                          Vic Firth American Classic Drum Sticks 5A Wood Tip

                          Vic Firth’s 5A sticks are great for all styles of music and Jazz is no exception. They have a perfect weight for technical fills and advanced rudiments while some of the most reliable and durable sticks available. Read Full Review

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                            Vic Firth American Classic Drum Sticks 5A Wood Tip

                            Regal Tip Classic Series 9A Drum Sticks

                            Regal Tip's 9A drumsticks have the most unique tips of all Jazz drumsticks, producing big sound perfect for big band playing. Awesome on the rim for Latin tunes, these are extremely durable Jazz sticks which will last you for years. Read Full Review

                            Regal Tip Classic Series 9A Drum Sticks

                            Best Drum Sticks for Metal:

                            Drumsticks for Metal music are very unique because they have to produce an extreme amount of sound while being light enough to allow the player to play extremely fast beats and fills. Many drummers feel they should use extremely thick sticks for Metal because of the necessary volume but most professional Metal drummers use sticks which are actually much thinner. The best size drumsticks which can produce the power and speed necessary for Metal music are 5A and have added length for power.

                            The following best drumsticks for Metal were chosen based on criteria including their feel, sound production, speed, durability, and affordability. These sticks feel very light in the hand but produce a lot of volume, are lightening fast when needed for blast-beats and fills while their large round tips cut through the band. Durability is the most important feature of these sticks because the required volume for Metal music often destroys sticks; however these best picks are all very durable and can take a serious beating. As with all of the drumsticks we’ve reviewed, basic affordability has been taken into consideration for these rankings.

                            Promark Hickory 747 Rock Wood Tip Drumsticks

                            Promark’s 747 drumsticks are thin enough for fast Metal playing, but produce a lot of volume. The large and durable oval tips produce big sound, feel light in the hand and great for fills. Read Full Review

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                              Promark Hickory 747 Rock Wood Tip Drumsticks

                              Vater Percussion Power 5A Wood Tip Drum Sticks

                              Vater’s Power 5A has all of the versatility of a 5A but with more power for playing Metal. The extra length allows for added striking power and the balance is great for fast playing. These sticks feel very solid in the hand and can produce a lot of volume. Read Full Review

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                                Vater Percussion Power 5A Wood Tip Drum Sticks

                                Vic Firth X55A Extreme 55A Wood Tip Drumsticks

                                The Vic Firth Extreme 55A has all the great qualities of 5A and 5B sticks mixed together creating a pointed attack which can cut through a Metal band. These teardrop-tipped sticks are very fast and can really move around your kit when it counts. Read Full Review

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                                  Vic Firth X55A Extreme 55A Wood Tip Drumsticks

                                  Vater Percussion 1A Drumsticks

                                  Vater’s 1A drumsticks are the biggest sticks I own and produce the most volume. Even though these sticks are very long, they’re well balanced and can play fast while the durable acorn tips turn out big sound on toms and crash cymbals. Read Full Review

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                                    Vater Percussion 1A Drumsticks

                                    Ahead FatBeat Medium Taper Sticks Black Tip 5A

                                    Ahead’s FatBeat 5A drumsticks are the most durable sticks available because of their all-metal and plastic construction. They have a very big sound and are extremely light with an unusual feel, great for playing Metal music. Read Full Review

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                                      Ahead FatBeat Medium Taper Sticks Black Tip 5A

                                      Best Budget Drum Sticks:

                                      Drumsticks are extremely expensive these days pushing many drummers to look for inexpensive options. With high quality sticks there’s usually only a difference of two or three dollars but it does start to add up if you multiply by the dozens of sticks you end up buying. For many drummers this cost can be too much so we’ve found five pairs of budget sticks actually worth purchasing.

                                      The following list of best budget drumsticks have been chosen based on criteria including their price, quality of wood, their feel in hand, and durability. Obviously price is the most important criteria for budget drumsticks, so all of these sticks are inexpensive, but offer great value for the level of quality you’re getting. All of these sticks feel great in many different genres of music while remaining quite durable, and will last almost as long as more expensive sticks on the market. These best budget drumsticks sticks are also manufactured with high quality hickory, a durable wood which sounds and feels better than many other wood types used in drumstick manufacturing.

                                      Nova Hickory Drumsticks

                                      Vic Firth makes these sticks, so you know they’re going to feel and sound better than the majority of other budget drumsticks. These sticks offer high quality hickory construction and a choice of wooden or nylon tips. Read Full Review

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                                        Nova Hickory Drumsticks

                                        Sound Percussion Hickory Drumsticks

                                        Sound Percussion makes great budget sticks with overall consistent quality, light feel and perfect for Jazz playing. They’re made from durable Hickory wood and made to endure extended playing sessions. Read Full Review

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                                          Sound Percussion Hickory Drumsticks

                                          On Stage American Hickory Drumsticks 5A Wood Tip

                                          On Stage American Hickory Drumsticks are great budget sticks which can be used in any musical genre. They’re very durable and great for beginners because of their tight feel which assists in technique development. Read Full Review

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                                            On Stage American Hickory Drumsticks  5A Wood Tip

                                            Pulse Drumsticks

                                            Pulse drumsticks are great budget sticks which draw big drum and cymbal sound thanks to their dense hickory wood construction. They feel great for Rock, extremely durable and the least expensive budget sticks featured on our list. Read Full Review

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                                              Pulse Drumsticks

                                              Stagg American Hickory Series SH2B Wooden Tip

                                              Stagg’s American Hickory sticks offer a lot of power and durability despite their light feel. I prefer the 2B model because they can produce a big sound making them a great choice for Rock music. Read Full Review

                                              Stagg American Hickory Series SH2B Wooden Tip
                                               

                                              Drumstick Buyer’s Guide

                                              Choosing the right drumsticks can be a daunting task but the following buyer’s guide is structured to help you choose the most appropriate stick to fit your needs. It’s best to start by choosing a stick size which feels good to you and then look for a specific model with a taper and tip that sounds the best.
                                               

                                              Drumstick Type

                                              Wooden Sticks: Hickory is the most common wood used to make drumsticks because it’s strong and also has a nice feel. Maple, Oak and Persimmon drumsticks are also available but should be tested in person to judge their feel and sound.

                                              Synthetic Sticks: These types of drumsticks are made from metal and plastic materials. Their sound and feel is drastically different compared to wooden drumsticks and are often more expensive.
                                               

                                              Drumstick Size

                                              Drumstick sizes vary from company to company, but they’re generally similar to one another in weight and length. The taper, which is the degree of thinning from the tip to the handle, can vary greatly from stick to stick.

                                              Most companies offer their own additional sizes and signature models which are specialized variations on universal core sizes.

                                              7A: These drumsticks are generally the smallest sticks available in length and diameter.

                                              8D: These drumsticks usually have the same thickness as 7A sticks but are a bit longer. Not all companies make 8D size sticks.

                                              5A: These sticks are thicker in diameter than 7A sticks and are a bit longer.

                                              5B: These sticks are thicker than 5A sticks and typically similar in length to 5A sticks. They’re usually heavier and bulkier than 5A sticks.

                                              2B: These sticks are thicker than 5B sticks and slightly longer.

                                              Rock/Metal: These are the thickest and longest drumsticks available. Rather than a numeric value, the actual size is literally expressed as either “Rock” or “Metal”.
                                               

                                              Drumstick Tip

                                              Wooden Round Tip: These oval-shaped tips are made from the same wood as the rest of the stick.

                                              Wooden Barrel Tip: These tips are made from the same wood as the rest of the stick with a longer, fairly flat striking surface.

                                              Wooden Teardrop Tip: Shaped like a teardrop, these tips are also made from the same wood as the rest of the stick.

                                              Nylon Tip: These are plastic, generally round tips with a sound and feel which is drastically different than wooden tips.
                                               

                                              Performance

                                              Sound, feel, and durability are three crucial elements for determining the best drumstick for your needs.

                                              The sound of a stick is best determined by playing the ride cymbal with the sticks tip and observing its sound. While you’re playing the ride cymbal, note the feel and bounce of the stick in your hand.

                                              Next, play the high-hat with both the tip and shaft of the stick and then hit the crash cymbal with the shaft of the stick. One of the most important factors in choosing drumsticks will be the colors they create on the cymbals.

                                              Follow up with a series of rolls and rudiments on the snare to test technical feel, then move around the toms to test speed and sound across the entire kit. Finally, play a few rim shots on the snare to see how much “bite” the sticks have.

                                              At the end of play, look over the stick shafts and tips for any chips or dents. If these marks are prominent, you might want to switch to a different stick.
                                               

                                              Durability

                                              Generally the best quality drumsticks are made by a handful of companies including Vic Firth, Zildjian, Pro-mark, and Vater. In my opinion, these four companies make the most reliable drumsticks in terms of quality and durability.

                                              All of these companies work with professional drummers to create drumsticks that sound and feel great. A few of these drummers even create custom sizes to match their specific drumming preferences.
                                               

                                              Price/Value

                                              You always want to choose a superior quality drumstick, especially since the price difference between good and bad sticks is often only a few dollars. It’s best to purchase drumsticks from quality manufacturers such as Vic-Firth, Pro-mark, Zildjian, and Vater.

                                              Alternately, many off-brand companies offer cheap sticks in bulk quantities for several dollars cheaper per pair. In my opinion, it’s best to buy a quality, well-balanced pair of drumsticks because they’ll sound and feel better than these inferior bargain sticks.

                                              Leave a Question or Comment
                                              3 comments
                                              • rbrband rbrband

                                              Thanks! Very helpful! Sticks and heads ultimately are where most money goes. (Well, maybe just heads, now!)

                                              Posted on 4/8/2012 12:48 pm | Reply
                                              • Tim Connelly Tim Connelly

                                              had a zillion of 'em, also electric kits, got one and played 'em all...

                                              Posted on 9/8/2009 7:06 am | Reply
                                              • Tim Connelly Tim Connelly

                                              Lemme at it. Also, I'd like to pitch the Best Rods, Brushes, etc. since I play 'em all.

                                              Posted on 9/8/2009 7:05 am | Reply