By: Justin Lu
I am a music educator, producer and budding songwriter based in Singapore. I hold a grade 8 distinction for drums, diploma in Audio Engineering and is a government certified instructor endorsed by the National Art council of Singapore.
I have been teaching drums for the past 8 years and have been playing drums for 22 years and counting. I am well-versed in teaching students of all ages, ranging from three to seventy years of age and had the opportunity to teach students with special needs (Autism,ADHD ex.).
I currently conduct music lessons in various government schools, do private music tutoring and is a part time teacher at a private music studio. Till date, my students obtained 100% passes in their exams. My approachable nature, passion and dedication to my craft inspires my students; keeping them constantly motivated to improve.
Recently I managed to set up a new start up called The interlude. The start up aims to create drum educational content through social media by showcasing the works from my students and interviews with them. The website is still a work in progress and the links to that will be updated on The Interlude facebook page in the near future.
I am also the co-founder/drummer of a Singaporean Alternative Rock band called “The Pepper Tree .” The band has played numerous gigs and emerged as the champions for the National Park Live Out Loud Battle of the Bands 2018 competition.I have been invited to perform at various music festivals and events, such as Rockestra 2019, Rockestra 2018, PlayLah! 2017, Swaggout 4 and Café Festival 2014. The band is currently in the midst of producing our first EP.
I use the Collision 7A drum sticks and I love how it feels like it is an extension of my hands. Collision drumstick is the personification of durability and it is excellently weighted. Thus I can say goodbye to the days of blisters on my fingers.
As a teacher and musician, my mandate is to ignite creativity in people’s minds through music and to inspire generations through it.
In this guest blog post, I’d like to share some tips on how you can pick the right pair of drum sticks for yourself.
Introduction (Picking the Right Drumsticks)
Picking a pair of drumsticks can be a daunting task, as they are the direct link between your drums and yourself. It is the most essential tool for any drum kit user. The issue is that there are a variety of drumstick models around and – without proper knowledge – it can be very intimidating to try and find the perfect drumsticks for yourself. Choosing the right sticks can make a vast difference between a badly executed performance and a splendid one.
Thus, I have devised a guide that you can use when finding your next pair of sticks.
Parts of the Drumstick
Firstly, let’s take into consideration the anatomy of a drumstick and what makes it different from another pair:
The drumsticks consist of:
- A tip – which shape and material may differ.
- A taper – which may differ in length.
- A shaft – which may differ in length and thickness.
- A butt – which in certain models have a playable end and which offers the sticks more versatility.
Drumsticks come in various sizes and are identified by numbers and letters. The lower the number, the thicker the stick.
As for the letters, they were first initiated in the early 1900’s and this is what they stood for:
D: Dance band
Today, those letters have less representation or none at all. They are just part of the model and branding of the sticks, hence you should not rely on it.
Even though drumsticks measurements may vary from one brand to the other, sizes are still considered pretty standard which means a 7A will certainly be thinner than a 5A and a 2B always being the thickest of the lot. However with that said a 7A from a certain brand could be thicker or heavier compared to that of “X” brand so do make your choice based on your needs.
Here are the common sizes you could expect from most drumsticks brand:
7A – Thin
5A – The “standard”
5B – Shorter but thicker than 3A
2B – Thickest of all
Type of tips
The material and shape of the tip will dictate the sound you will get on your drums.
The larger the surface that comes into contact with the drums, the less definition you will get in terms of the sound.
The different type of tip shapes are:
- Tear drop
- Taj Mahal
Thus, a tear drop tip will have less definition to that of a rounded tip.
Do take note that the different kinds of tip will affect the definition of the cymbals differently in comparison to the rest of the drum kit.
The tip can be made out of wood or nylon. The wooden tip is the most common material used and it offers the widest range of sound production. However, one shortfall is that it is not as durable. The nylon tip produces a much sharper sound on the cymbals and it is a lot more durable compared to the wooden tip, though many people do not fancy the sound it produces as it may tend to sound too harsh compared to using a wooden tip; it entirely depends on the drummer preference and the type of sound they want to create.
Type of Grip
In addition, you can check the varnish or lacquer coating on the sticks. Firstly, hold the stick in your hand and slide it through your fingers, how does it feel? Different drumstick carpenters utilise a different coating which will affect the grip of the sticks. Certain brands use a thicker lacquer which makes their sticks a bit slicker and more resistant to sweat and moisture compared to the others. Also, some brands offer sticks with a rubber coating or even a finish that is done by sanding the wood. This heavily affects the playability of the sticks and may save you from blisters on your fingers.
The taper length greatly influences the sticks rebound you will get off the cymbals and drums. A shorter taper offers less rebound, more durability and power whereas a longer taper produces more rebound and a faster response. In general most drummers tend to prefer a medium taper which is slightly more balanced in rebound and response. Thus a rock/metal drummer would tend to go for a shorter taper compared to a jazz drummer who would generally go for a longer taper.
Type of Materials
Drumsticks can be made out of various materials. Some of the common materials are wood, carbon fibre, polyurethane and aluminium. However the vast majority of sticks made are that of wood. Some of the woods used are:
- Hickory – offers the most balanced combination of density, weight and durability.
- Maple – the lightest wood of all.
- Oak – heaviest and densest out of the three, it produces ultra durable sticks and it’s best for hard hitters.
The only advantage of carbon fibre, polyurethane and aluminium sticks is that it will last longer than wooden sticks.
Various drumsticks have a certain gravitational weight which will affect it’s rebound and may affect the playability of the sticks. Therefore, finding one that is more balanced in weight will offer more control; having sticks that are weight matched is important. You would not want to own a pair of sticks that are heavier in one hand compared to another as this will affect the sound of any drummer playing with it.
With the above being said, it is best to try out the drumsticks for yourself and make a wise decision from there. Do take note that drumsticks absorb the vibration produced when the drum is being hit. Therefore, it is important to ensure the vibration does not affect your playing in the long run by finding a pair of sticks that absorbs the most of it. Find the best drumsticks for yourself and save your hands.
Till next time, peace out.
Justin is an Endorsed Cruise Artist with Collision Drumsticks.
He is also a music educator, producer and budding songwriter based in Singapore. He plays for a band called The Pepper Tree. He holds a grade 8 distinction for drums, diploma in Audio Engineering and is a government certified music instructor. With 7 years of teaching and 22 years of drumming experience, Justin possesses excellent interpersonal and classroom management skills.
To learn more from Justin himself, here’s how you can get in touch: