The 7 Best Drum Brushes of 2023 (Metal, Nylon, Retractable)

Looking for a great pair of drum brushes for your acoustic drums? They are heavily used in Jazz and Blues music, but drummers of many various genres use them. They are also used as a lower volume alternative to sticks.

Drummers use different techniques when playing them, but the most iconic one is a frisky, crispy sound of brushes being dragged around the snare. You can also play them in a similar way to normal sticks, though it gives a more muffled sound with a lower attack.

My top pick is the Vic Firth Heritage Brush. A well-rounded choice from a trusted manufacturer.

My budget pick is the Musiclily Retractable Jazz Drum Brush suitable for those looking for a more affordable option.

The 7 Best Drum Brushes (2023)

1. Vic Firth Heritage Brush
Top Pick - Best overall quality brushes by a respected brand, very frequently used.
2. Musiclily Retractable Jazz Drum Brushes
Budget Pick - Retractable, affordable and lightweight brushes suitable for any drummer.
3. Vater VWTW Brush
Affordable Metal Brush With Wooden Handle.
4. Vic Firth Steve Gadd Wire Brush
A culmination between Steve Gadd and Vic Firth.
5. Vic Firth Jazz Brush Plastic Handle
Professional brush for jazz players and quality seekers.
6. Promark Retractable Nylon Brush
Retractable Nylon Practice Brush.

Let’s compare these in more detail.

1. Vic Firth Heritage Brush

Top Pick
Lightweight, quality brushes for fluid playing
View Price at SweetwaterView Price at Amazon

The Vic Firth Heritage brushes are probably one of the most comfortable and ergonomic brushes out there. That’s because they have light-gauge metal wires which can be retracted.

The handle on this thing is made of rubber, which gives a nice balance to the brush and makes for very comfortable playing even for longer hours.

The brushes are easy to navigate around the drumhead. They also get a very nice sound from your drums and your cymbals. Since the wires are retractable, you get a lot of say and a lot of possibilities in the sounds that you can produce using the Vic Firth Heritage Brush.

2. Musiclily Retractable Jazz Drum Brushes

Budget Pick
Well-balanced, affordable, and durable brushes for versatile playing.
View Price at Amazon

The Musicily Retractable Jazz drum brushes are telescopic brushes that can be retracted for greater articulation and wider dynamics.

These brushes have a rubber handle, which is great for long playing sessions. Also, the wires are made of plastic instead of metal, preventing them from bending and making them last a long time.

This brush pair is a good choice for beginner to intermediate drummers. It is well balanced, fairly lightweight, and quite durable. So, you can get a lot out of them, both in your practice sessions and on stage.

3. Vater VWTW Brush

Budget-friendly and Quality Brush
Affordable Metal Brush With Wooden Handle.
View Price at Amazon

The Vater VWTW is a non-retractable, wooden handle, metal frisk brush. You can get them also in the retractable version if you prefer that. The frisks on these brushes are thin and have a larger fan, so they produce a more mellow sound, which can be great for quieter, subtle songs.

They come in a 5A size and have a rivet on the bottom side of the handle with which you can create sound when scraping the cymbals. VWTW comes at a really low price, but you will get good quality brushes with which you can let the magic happen easily.

4. Vic Firth Steve Gadd Wire Brush

Unique Edition Brushes.
A culmination between Steve Gadd and Vic Firth.
View Price at AmazonView Price at Guitar Center

The Steve Gadd wire brushes were constructed by Steve Gadd and Vic Firth to get exactly what they thought was necessary on the market. And of course, they were right. The Vic Firth Steve Gadd wire brush is a sight to behold.

The whole point of these is that they are unique – the frisks on the brush are all slightly angled and the top. This allows the brushes not to get caught on the newly coated drum skins, but also the players to get different types of sounds depending on how they are holding the brush.

These are metal frisks, retractable brushes, and are made of top-quality materials. The handle is made of quality rubber, so you won’t drop them. They are made by drumming legend for professional drummers and you can’t make a mistake with them.

5. Vic Firth Jazz Brush Plastic Handle

Classic Retractable Brushes with Plastic Handles
Professional brush for jazz players and quality seekers.
View Price at SweetwaterView Price at Amazon

Another Vic Firth product, but this time without a drummer to sign them. These classic Jazz brushes come with retractable, metal frisks and a plastic handle. They are made specifically for jazz players and because they have a 5” brush diameter when fully retracted, they can produce any sound you need.

Of course, you can adjust them by the handle, but whichever way you choose to play them, you should know that they are quite loud for drum brushes. Also, they are made out of quality materials, so if you’re a professional, you shouldn’t hesitate on getting them.

6. Promark Retractable Nylon Brush

ProMark Edition Affordable Nylon Brushes
Retractable Nylon Practice Brush.
View Price at SweetwaterView Price at Amazon

Promarks nylon brushes are a great, affordable option to use if you want to achieve that plastic nylon sound or you just need something cheap but quality for practice.

The great thing about these brushes is the color of the brushes – blue frisks are going to make you a showstopper, especially since all of the others are plain metal colors.

They come with a retractable brush and a plastic body, which is lightweight but isn’t the most durable one. Great practice brushes as they are a bit quieter, but that also makes them not so great of a playing option when doing a gig in a louder environment.

7. Promark TB3 Telescoping Wire Brushes

Classic Design by ProMark
Classic Quality Metal Brush.
View Price at SweetwaterView Price at Amazon

Another brushes from the Promark catalog, Promark TB3 are telescopic metal wire brush. As far as the metal brushes go, these will give you the same quality and sound as all of the others. There are no surprises and the brushes are made from quality materials.

They have a rubber finish plastic body and a retraction rod with a big hook on the end, so you don’t need to worry about retraction problems. These are great brushes for anyone, from beginners to professional drummers.

The Coming of Drum Brushes

Drum brushes came into being in the 20th century with jazz musicians. They were the first to start using them next to normal sticks, giving them a more complex and nuanced sound.

With the birth of rock music, they became a bit obsolete because they weren’t heard enough through loudness by other instruments. But they lived in the jazz community and today are making a comeback in all of the genres.

How do drum brushes sound?

Drum brushes are mostly used for jazz music due to their beautiful swishing sound. The reason behind the sound is the bristle and handle of the drum brush. If you have a high-quality brush then just imagine how your drum kit will sound like.

The bristles, the handle, the wires, as well as the angles you use will all contribute to the quiet and brushing sound most notable in jazz music. It almost sounds like quiet scratching but with a beat behind it.

Nevertheless, brushes give a beautiful sound that just fills the background and serves as a strong foundation for a song.

How are they build and what types of brushes are there?

The build of the brushes themselves is simple – you attach a lot of metal or nylon frisks on a stick and voila! In the beginning, only the metal frisks were used, and they still make a majority of brushes today.

Recently though, nylon brushes started to make a breakthrough as more and more drummers are using them. The handles of the brushes are usually rubbery, to keep them in the hands when sweaty.

In the build of the brushes, it’s also important to notice if the brushes are retractable or not. This is done by adding a simple rod in the bottom of the brush which enables you to retract the brush completely, thus shielding it away. Also, you can adjust the fan size of your brushes by adjusting how retracted you want them to be when playing.

This affects the sound you can get out of your brushes but comes with the inherent danger of that moving rod braking, thus making your brushes unusable. On the other side, the solid body brushes are in danger of breaking the delicate frisks if they are inadvertently broken.

What to look for when buying a drum brush?

The obvious first reason is the type of brush. You need to figure out which type you need, based on what style of playing you’re currently into. Nevertheless, the options are retractable or fixed so choose the one most appropriate for you.

When it comes to features and dimensions, you want something that sits well in your hands, maintains a good grip, and also has some cool little features that might very well up your game or are just comfortable.

Lastly, the price is something to consider. Although none of these brushes is incredibly pricey, still, you need to know your limit and whether or not you really need a top-quality brush or just a starter one. Think hard and choose the most suitable one without going overboard if you don’t need to.


Drum Brushes are simple little things. There’s not much to the build of them, but their versatility is what makes them such a great tool to use when playing drums. The sound you get out of your brushes depends on the material that the frisks are made from.

You must pick up your drum brushes from a reputable brand, if not, you risk getting low-quality materials that won’t give you the sound or life expectancy that’s expected.

My top recommended brush is the Vic Firth Heritage Brush. A very frequently used brush by a trusted brand and good quality material.

My second recommended brush is the Musiclily Retractable Jazz Drum Brush for those on a tighter budget, looking to score a good deal and solid quality.

Mike O'Connor

I've been playing drums for over 18 years. I work as both a session drummer and a drum teacher, and I love to share my knowledge and tips on this site. You can also find me on the Electronic Drum Advisor YouTube channel.

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