Drumsticks come in many different sizes and shapes. A high-quality set of drumsticks is one of your most important assets as a drummer. This list rounds up the 7 best sticks to suit all types of drummers.
Junk drumsticks can be unbalanced, made from poor materials, and break easily. They can also be inconsistent across even the same models, which means that you may not get the same playability from different pairs. If you want the best drum sticks then read along.
My top recommended drumsticks are the Vic Firth American Classic 5A Drum Sticks. This is a classic for a reason, with great value and price as well.
My second recommended drumsticks are the Vic Firth American Classic Extreme 5AN (Nylon tip). Similar to the classic 5A but also great for electronic drums because of the nylon tip.
- The 7 Best Drumsticks (2023)
- 1. Vic Firth American Classic 5A Drum Sticks
- 2. Vic Firth American Classic Extreme 5AN (Nylon tip)
- 3. Ahead Classic Series Drumsticks - 5B
- 4. On-Stage Maple 5A Wood Tip Drumsticks, 12 Pairs
- 5. Donner Snare Drum Sticks 5A (3 Pair With Carrying Bag)
- 6. Promark American Hickory Classic 5A Drumsticks
- 7. Vater 5A Wood Tip Hickory Drum Sticks
- Drumsticks – Buyer’s Guide
- Drumstick sizes
- Choosing Drumsticks by Materials
- Drumstick Tips
- Stick Holders
- How Much Do Drumsticks Cost?
The 7 Best Drumsticks (2023)
Let’s compare these in more detail.
This is probably the most well-recognized drumstick in the world. The Vic Firth 5A American classic strikes a great balance between, weight, length, wood type, and size. I recommend this as the best drumstick for beginners, but it’s also very suitable for all levels of drummers.
I believe almost every drummer should have at least one set of these in their stick bag. Compared to budget sticks, the 5A American classics tend to be a lot more balanced and have much more durability.
These sticks are made from hickory wood, which is a great middle-ground wood type. It is very strong without being too heavy. If you’re a very heavy hitter, you should consider a drumstick made from Oak instead.
Check out this great video above to see the production and quality control checks that go into a Vic Firth drumstick.
One of the most renowned producers of drumsticks, Vic Firth created the Classic Extreme 5AN type with nylon tips.
As mentioned previously, the Vic Firth 5A has become a very popular choice for drummers. The Extreme 5A sticks are a bit longer, and add a bit of extra reach to your playing.
These sticks are made of hickory, so their density mixed with a pinch of flex provide an articulated sound, appropriate for different drumming styles. Hickory is a well-known shock absorber, so they have a healing effect on drummer’s hands.
The reason why these drumsticks are a cut above the rest is the nylon tip which makes them very useful for electronic drums as well, without the worry of damaging the heads or getting splinters.
The Ahead Classic series is made using an aluminum core and plastic coating. Ahead claim that these drumsticks last between 6 to 10 times longer than wooden drumsticks.
Ahead drumsticks are popular and useful for metal drummers. This has likely been helped with endorsements by world-famous names metal drumming such as Joey Jordison (ex-Slipknot) and Lars Ulrich, who each have their signature models of ahead drumsticks.
The material of this drumstick allows for an additional rebound, which can help for very fast drumming (such as speed metal).
If you’re a heavy hitter that finds your wooden drumsticks often breaking, then it might be worth checking out the Ahead Classic series.
Although I’m always for ‘quality over quantity’ when it comes to drumsticks in bulk, however, this is not the case here.
Many drummers simply like to just have a large number of drumsticks on hand and aren’t particularly concerned with the extra balance and feel of more expensive sticks.
If you’re in that school of thought or need to buy a set of drumsticks for a large group of drummers, then these on-stage drumsticks might be a good option for you.
5. Donner Snare Drum Sticks 5A (3 Pair With Carrying Bag)
These Donner Drumsticks are made of hickory wood material and are of decent overall quality, especially when you consider the price.
They don’t stand up in terms of balance and feel like the Vic Firths or Promark Hickory drumsticks, however, their price brings them up a few levels as the value-for-price ratio is exceptional.
I would recommend getting the uncolored versions because the paint from the colored versions can chip off onto your drums and cymbal edges.
The Promark American Hickory Classic 5A drumsticks are great quality drumsticks that live up to the Promark name.
They are quite similar to the Vic Firth Hickory Classic. These Promark drumsticks are great American walnut sticks with a wooden tip for that extra punch you need.
They have a well-balanced response and the overall rebound is quite great as well. As far as construction is concerned, hickory wood is a classic for a reason and the most used wood for drumsticks in general.
Needless to say, you cannot go wrong with the Promark drumsticks. Check the video above for a more detailed look.
Similar to the Promark drumsticks, the Vater American Hickory 5A are a standard for a lot of drummers. They have good overall quality and are surprisingly durable, especially when you consider the price.
The well-balanced weight makes them comfortable and stable when playing, as well as the top-notch quality wood that is the American Hickory. Plus, they are 5A, which is the golden standard for most.
They also come as a bundle with a pair of 5A natural sticks or a pair of hickory sticks with wooden tips.
The overall value-for-price ratio is off the charts so you cannot go wrong here!
Drumsticks – Buyer’s Guide
Before we get into the details, you should check out this great video by Jared Falk from Drumeo, which gives a great overview of how to choose between them:
In a nutshell, there are four main types of drumsticks that I recommend rookie drummers should choose from. Those are 5A, 5B, 7A, and 2B.
The numerical part
As you’ve noticed, each of these types contains a letter and a number in its name.
The number in the type of drumstick represents its thickness. The lower the number, the thicker the drum stick is and vice versa. For example, 7A drumsticks are thin sticks compared to 2B drumsticks.
Further, there’s also the letter part in drum stick types. These letters originate from the period when drums entered the mainstream.
The letter part
The letter ‘A’ originally stood for orchestra drumming. These A-drumsticks were used by big band and large orchestra drummers, due to their thinness and softness, which recommended them for lighter drumming sessions.
However, they are now commonly used across many different styles. 5A is generally still my preferred stick size.
The letter ‘B’ comes from the word band. Logically, these drumsticks were meant to be used by band players, which is still the case today. They’re generally larger than the ‘A’ size drumsticks and are used by players that want more power in their playing.
Finally, there’s another sort of drumstick – the ‘S’ type. Their first application was in street bands, which is where the initial letter comes from. Since playing in the street requires loudness and power, they’re the thickest and bulkiest of all these three types.
Choosing Drumsticks by Materials
Drumsticks are made from a variety of materials. Each of them has some special features regarding different drumming styles and sounds. Here are the most widespread drum stick types based on the materials they’re made from.
The most popular drum stick materials with the longest traditions are maple, hickory, and oak wood, which are perfect for drummers for all kinds of playing styles and grips.
Oak is a dense and hardwood meant for powerful, ‘heavy’ drumming. Maple, on the other hand, is the lightest type of wood with low density, which is why it’s a great choice for fast playing needs.
Hickory is harder and heavier than maple, but softer than oak. Being such a middle-of-the-road wood type, it’s the most widespread wood in drumsticks. Also, its elasticity plays an important role in reducing the level of hand fatigue. Because of that, it’s a reasonable option for drumming beginners.
Finally, persimmon is the most exquisite of all the drum stick materials, and it’s usually produced for special drum stick uses, like concert stick sets for snares. It’s a durable, heavy, and dense wood that produces deep, dark sounds. As such, it’s different from other presented woods for drumsticks.
The greatest advantage of carbon fiber drumsticks over the wood ones is their durability. They usually last much longer than their wooden counterparts.
However, you might want to leave this drum stick type for later stages of your playing, since they’re more costly than wooden sticks.
In addition to the density of the material, length of drumsticks, and diameter, their tips are of great importance when it comes to the quality and type of sound. You have all kinds of tips such as nylon tips, wood tips, oval tips, acorn tips, round tips, the occasional teardrop tip, but for now, we’ll focus on the more common ones.
Nylon drum stick tips are the best choice for drummers who need a bright, resonating tone. Compared to wooden tips, they can be less harsh on playing surfaces (as the tips don’t splinter), which is why they’re a great option for drummers that play on electronic drum sets. Another plus on their side is long durability and wear-out resistance.
Wood tips are the most widespread type of tips. They usually provide a neutral combo of proper articulation and rich sounds on different elements of drum sets. Still, different types of wood tips will produce different sounds, which we’ve talked about in the previous paragraph.
Swizzle drumsticks have a dual tip. On one side there’s a regular drum stick tip, while the other side of the tips is enriched with a small synthetic ball. This combination enables you to get a smooth and warm mallet sound on tom drums or cymbals.
It’s always awkward dropping a drumstick on stage. Though it doesn’t have to be the end of the world!
When you’re on stage, you might need more than one pair of sticks by your side. Since it’s important to store your sticks properly after the gig, you should get a drum stick holder for your kit.
The on-stage drum stick holder can hold 8 pairs of sticks. Thanks to its C-shape clamp, you can place it easily on any drum stand, or other pieces of drum sets.
Also, you can easily take your sticks from it or leave them inside thanks to the extension part as you’re playing, due to the 45° angle at which it’s mounted. The cup can be easily taken off and cleaned so that your drums are always kept in a clean holder.
How Much Do Drumsticks Cost?
Depending on the manufacturers, a quality pair of drumsticks can cost from $8 to $12 per pair. Budget drumsticks can cost as little as $2 per pair when bought as part of a pack.
You get what you pay for when it comes to drumsticks. It’s worth spending a bit of extra money on good quality sticks as they are better crafted, well balanced, and they tend to have better durability.
The type of drumsticks you use will depend on your drumming skills and playing preferences. Starting out with more neutral sticks and moving onto more unique ones that provide some special features sound like the most reasonable option.
It’s also important to learn more about the tips of sticks and whether they match with your drum set. I recommend that you try numerous different drumsticks to help you figure out the best pairs for you.
My top pick are the Vic Firth American Classic 5A Drum Sticks. These classic drumsticks are of great value and at a great price!
My budget pick are the Vic Firth American Classic Extreme 5AN (Nylon tip). They are similar to the classic 5A but can be used for electronic drums because of the nylon tip.