Drum sticks seem like a very simple tool, and as far as musical instruments go, they are often overlooked as simply a glorified stick of wood.
This couldn’t be further from the truth, and anyone who has ever used a good quality drum stick will attest to the difference a good drum stick can make to the feel of playing the drums.
The different lengths, materials, and thicknesses of drum sticks are something that other musicians and fans may never notice, but any drummer worth their salt knows how important these details are.
The last thing you want is to slow down your progress or ruin a performance by using unbalanced, inconsistent sticks that may break at any given moment. It can be more expensive to repeatedly replace flimsy drum sticks than to research and purchase a higher quality stick that will give you confidence and value.
In this list, we’re going to highlight some of the best drum sticks currently available. If you’re new to drumming and want to make sure you’re getting the right drum stick for your needs, please feel free to check out our buyer’s guide and FAQ below where we break down some of the most common questions and features of modern drum sticks.
OUR TOP PICK
OUR TOP PICK
ProMark is one of the most well-established names in drumming and they’ve been making high-quality sticks for a very long time. They are actually one of the only companies to successfully bring Shira Kashi Oak to the American drum stick market.
This material is strong and heavy, and makes for one of the most durable drum stick materials available, particularly among wooden sticks.
With a front weighted balance and wooden tips, these are excellent all-rounders which work well for punishing heavy usage and are popular with world-famous drummers such as Neil Peart.
- Japanese Oak Construction
- Excellent front weighted balance
- Wooden tips
- Strong and thick
- Not great for delicate orchestral percussion
Vater is another longstanding drum drumstick manufacturer, founded around a similar time as ProMark. The Vater Power 5A’s are another great all-rounder but are made of Hickory which is a little less durable than the Japanese Oak used in the ProMark Classics mentioned earlier.
Despite this though these drumsticks provide excellent control and comfort, with an extra half-inch of length than standard 5A drum sticks to give drummers that little bit of extra room.
Vater’s quality control is second to none and the Hickory they use is tested for moisture, weight, grain, and straightness to ensure maximum consistency which will allow you to become very familiar with the feel of these drum sticks.
- Durable construction
- Excellent consistency between sticks
- Good balance
- Slightly Longer than standard 5A sticks
- A little less durable than oak drumsticks
These sticks from Ahead are quite unique and very different compared to the more classic all-rounders previously looked at in this list.
Unlike classic wooden drumsticks, Ahead has innovated and has chosen to use aluminum with an alloy core with a proprietary vibration reduction system to reduce fatigue and provide great comfort.
With a 7A rating, the handling characteristics are also very different, being much thinner and lighter than 5A sticks. This doesn’t make for a weak stick, however, and the materials used will make for a long-lasting stick that will be much harder to break even under intense usage.
The nylon tips are great for use on electronic drums or more delicate instruments, which make them ideal for lighter more precise usage.
- Vibration reduction system
- Alloy core
- Ergonomic grip
- Thin and light
- Nylon tips
- A little more expensive than wooden sticks
Back to a 5A wooden design, this set of North American maple drumsticks has a slip-resistant finish for added control and is another great all-rounder drum stick.
The North American maple construction is durable but a little less so than Oak or Hickory drumsticks, however, they will still stand up to regular use. While ARLX doesn’t have the pedigree of ProMark or Vater, these sticks would make a great first set of drum sticks for a beginner or as a set of spares.
- Durable American Maple
- Slip-resistant finish
- Decent balance
- Wooden tips
- Not as durable as other drum sticks
These Antner 7A Maple drumsticks are an ideal choice for younger drummers who want a lighter, thinner drum stick that handles well and provides excellent control for simpler music.
The oval-shaped wooden tips offer a warm, slightly subdued sound that particularly shine when used on cymbals giving a clear and crisp ring.
The included velvet bag is also a great way to protect the sticks when not in use and keeps them organized for easy transportation.
- Thin and light
- Maple construction
- Oval tips for great crisp sound
- Slightly less durable as a thinner maple stick
Donner’s 5A drum stick may look simple but it’s packed with features that make it a surprisingly good performer that is durable and controlled.
The 5A measurement gives these sticks strength and a nice sturdy feel in the hand, and the maple wood material is strong and light. The polished surface is smooth for comfort but isn’t slippery and gives excellent control and responsiveness that feels well balanced in hand.
The drop-shaped wooden tips are ideal for use with acoustic drums and work well on drums and cymbals to give maximum flexibility.
The included velvet carry bag will help keep your sticks safe and organized when they’re not in use which is a nice extra touch.
- 5A Length
- Smooth grippy finish
- Drop-shaped tips
- Canadian maple construction
- Maple is a little less durable than Oak or Hickory
Vic Firth is a well-known brand that every experienced drummer will know. They’ve produced accessories and equipment for drummers for many years and have built a great reputation for quality and this can be seen in the features of these classic 5A sticks.
A classic mid-range size of 5A allows for superb control and flexibility for use in various scenarios, while being slightly better suited to pit work and jazz they can still perform fairly well for more demanding scenarios.
The hickory material is strong and high quality and has a lacquer finish to give a smooth finish with excellent grip and control.
The wooden teardrop tips give a rich cymbal strike but are also superb when used on the drums themselves.
These are also available in slightly different sizes and lengths to give maximum choice over the level of control, depending on the drummer’s preference.
- Strong hickory material
- Classic teardrop tips
- Lacquered finish for a smooth finish
- Good balance
- Good grip
- Not quite as durable as oak drum sticks
Best Drumsticks Buying Guide
When it comes to drum sticks there is a surprising amount of different features and characteristics to keep track of that can be difficult to spot for new drummers.
The sizes, materials, and shapes of the sticks as well as their finish can have a drastic impact on their durability, the sound they produce on different parts of the kit, and also the comfort and control they provide.
In this buyer’s guide, we have compiled some of the key features and characteristics and will explain the things you should look out for to make sure you get the right drum sticks for you.
Finding the right pair will help you to progress faster as a drummer and make you much more confident and comfortable when using them.
The material of your drumstick will have a massive effect on how durable and comfortable it is. There are several different types of wood, as well as carbon and alloy designs that all have different characteristics.
In general, wooden sticks are the most common and are a tried and tested design that gives a great blend of strength, comfort grip, and sound.
Generally oak is the strongest wood for drumsticks, with hickory and maple coming in just a little less durable respectively. Oak is typically a little more expensive, so be aware of this if you’re a beginner.
There are sticks made of persimmon but these are fairly specialist and produce a wonderfully rich sound, but are rarely used by beginners or amateurs.
Aside from this, carbon fiber is another very strong and light option that may last a little longer than even the strongest wooden sticks, as well as various alloy constructions that function similarly.
These are much more expensive than wooden sticks but will usually last quite a lot longer, meaning you will be able to get used to their feel and really bed them in well.
There are a few different sizes and the system for differentiating between them can be intimidating at first, but it’s actually quite simple.
The main sizes a beginner needs to know about are 5A, 5B, and 7A.
The number in these ratings corresponds to the thickness of the stick. The lower the number, the thicker the stick. A 7 is much thinner than a five and a five is much thinner than a 2 for example.
The letters indicate the style of drumming the sticks are intended for. The A rating initially meant that a stick was better for orchestral performances. Their thinness and softness made them ideal for lighter sessions that didn’t put too much strain on the stick.
The B rating indicates a more durable stick and actually signifies a stick is for band usage. Lesser known than these are S-type drum sticks which are designed for street usage and are the thickest and most durable designation.
The tip design will make a drum stick sound slightly different when they hit cymbals and drums themselves.
Nylon or plastic tips are usually a little gentler than wooden tips and work well with electronic drum sets that don’t require as much force to be used.
Wooden tips are great for acoustic drums and can take a lot of punishment. Typically oval tips give a great crisp sound while teardrop tips are excellent for a classic overall sound on cymbals and drums.
Drum sticks are sometimes sold in multipacks and these can be of great value, as long as you already know you like the stick.
If you’re a beginner it’s better to get individual pairs until you know what you like and what suits your style. Another option is to consider a carbon or aluminum drum stick that lasts far longer than wooden sticks.
Best Drumsticks - FAQ's
When should I replace my drum sticks?
Generally, there will be some telltale signs of a drum stick that is ready to be retired.
The first is that the tip has sharp edges or is a very different shape from its standard shape. A damaged or sheared tip can damage your drums so don’t hesitate to replace them when this is starting to happen.
Severe splintering and damage around the neck can throw off the balance of the stick which is also a sign it’s time to get a replacement.
Also, if the wood of the stick feels soft or one stick is giving a noticeably different sound, it’s time to send your drum sticks to drum stick heaven.
Do I need special drum sticks for electronic drums?
No, you don’t need any special sticks for electronic drums, but nylon tips can be a little gentler on your sensitive equipment and will last a very long time when used with electronic drums.
Do drummers tape their sticks?
While some drummers like to do this to make their sticks stand out and give a little extra grip to the stick, it isn’t a very common practice because it can make a difference to the sound your drum sticks produce.