Your most important tool for drum kit players is their pair of drum sticks. They’re an extension of your arms that allow you to create and express. You can’t play the drum kit without them, making them vital pieces of gear to own.
Drum sticks are made in all shapes and sizes. Whether it be big or small, thick or thin, every drummer has specific preferences. Some preferences depend on the style of music that a drummer is playing. Styles like jazz and indie have delicate drum parts, meaning thinner sticks work better. Styles like rock and metal require heavy-hitting, making a thick pair of drum sticks a better choice.
We’re going to focus on rock and metal drummers in this article with a list of some of the best sticks for those musical styles.
Drum Stick Companies
There are a few drum stick companies that are popular amongst drummers. They’ve all been in the game for decades and are constantly innovating and providing high-quality stick models.
The most popular drum stick brand is Vic Firth. Founded over 50 years ago, the Vic Firth company has a serious variety of sticks to choose from. They have something for everyone.
Other popular drum stick brands are Vater and Promark. These brands aren’t far behind Vic Firth when it comes to innovation. They’re both producing high-quality products at a rapid pace.
Lastly, Zildjian is a good stick company to look out for. Although they’re primarily a cymbal brand, their line of drum sticks provides drummers with several stick options for a wide variety of musical styles.
Rock vs Metal
These two musical styles are generally grouped together when discussing drum gear. However, there are a few differences to take note of that will help you when choosing what to get.
Rock music requires high energy playing with hard hitting. You need durable sticks, meaning stick size plays a huge role. A thicker pair of sticks will be able to take a beating as well as deliver a loud sound. Rock drummers tend to fly through sticks when playing gigs thanks to the high energy environment. The most common size of sticks for rock drummers would be 5B.
Metal drummers play with a bit more finesse than rock drummers. The musical style requires endurance more than hard hitting. This is thanks to frequent blast beats and dense drum fills. However, a heavy metal breakdown still requires hard hitting. So, you’ll need sticks that are light, yet durable.
With all that being said, the choice of drum stick does boil down to the personal preference of any drummer. These are just some common guidelines.
Top 5 Drum Sticks for Rock and Metal
1. Vater Chad Smith Signature Funk Blaster
Chad Smith is the drummer for the legendary funk band, The Red Hot Chili Peppers. When thinking of drummers who hit hard, Chad Smith is well near the top of that list. He got together with Vater to produce these signature sticks that are designed to take a beating.
These sticks have a similar grip to a standard 5B. However, they have a beefier taper that makes them heavier near the top. They have an acorn tip, helping you express clean and articulate notes on the drums and cymbals.
They’re made from hickory wood which is the most common type of wood in drum sticks. It sits somewhere in the middle of being light and heavy, meaning these sticks are fairly balanced and will do well in fast playing environments.
These heavier sticks are particularly well-suited for rock drumming. However, experienced players will be able to get a bit more out of them.
Overall, they’re a highly durable version of a 5B, yet they’re slightly heavier.
2. Zildjian Travis Barker Black Artist Series
Almost anyone who grew up in the early 2000s has heard of the band, Blink-182. Their pop-punk anthems were stuck in our heads for years. Their drummer, Travis Barker, was arguably one of the most famous drummers in the world at the time and the reason a lot of people started playing drums. Travis Barker has an aggressive high-energy style of playing. He hits seriously hard and fast. These Zildjian Artist Series sticks were made for that style of playing.
The first thing you’ll notice about these sticks is their striking appearance. They’ve been painted black and have popping metallic writing. This gives the feeling of explosive expression. The look isn’t for everyone, but many drummers may love it. The downside of the black paint is that it tends to come off and mark the drum heads you’re playing on. This may bother some drummers more than others.
These Zildjian Travis Barker signature sticks are similar to a hickory 5B. However, they have a thicker neck, making them more durable and conducive to hard-hitting. They’re for drummers with aggressive playing styles.
3. Vic Firth 5B
5B is the standard size of sticks for heavy-hitters and Vic Firth’s 5Bs are one of the most sold pairs of sticks in the business. These sticks fit pretty much any music style. However, you’ll find that a lot of heavy-hitting drummers use them thanks to their thickness.
These sticks fit extremely comfortably in any drummer’s hands and are durable enough to last multiple gigs. They’re 16″ with a teardrop-shaped tip. The size allows you to easily maneuver around the kit and play intricate drum parts.
They’re some of the most reliable pairs of drum sticks on the market. So, if you’re a hard hitter and you don’t want to be potentially let down by sticks you don’t know, get yourself a pair of Vic Firth 5Bs.
4. Vic Firth Extreme 5A
Vic Firth 5As are arguably the most popular drumsticks in the world. They’re a suitable choice for jazz, metal, and rock drumming. These Extreme 5As take everything good about the standard 5A and add a bit more. They’re slightly longer in length, giving you more reach around the drum kit.
They have a bit more weight at the top, giving a higher sense of durability especially when playing hard rimshots. They sit somewhere in between a 5A and 5B, giving you a bit more versatility. This makes them a fantastic choice for metal drumming as they allow you to play faster beats and fills.
Many experienced players swear by these sticks, meaning they’re a trusted product.
5. Promark Chris Adler Autograph Series
Chris Adler is the drummer for Lamb of God, a well-known metal band. He worked along with Promark to develop these sticks that are made for speed and power. They’re a standard size that is similar to a 5A. However, they’re much lighter. This allows you to hit hard as well as play fast.
When you first play with them you may think they’re a bit thin for metal drumming. Once you get into the groove, you’ll think very differently. These sticks are one of the best tools around for blast beats and breakdowns. Every intricate note will be heard and high-intensity drum parts will be easier to play.
The acorn tip allows great articulation on drums and cymbals. Overall, these sticks are a metal drummer’s dream.
Drum Stick Size
Stick manufacturers offer pairs of sticks in a wide variety of weights, lengths, and sizes. These sizes are designed to fit all types of personal preferences. When it comes to length, drum sticks are usually 15 to 17.5 inches. Some drummers prefer longer sticks because they have more reach. Other drummers prefer the standard 15 inch size.
Most drum sticks have numbers attached to them that tell you the weight. Higher numbered sticks are lighter than lower numbered ones. 2B sticks will be a lot heavier than 7As.
The letters generally tell you how thick the sticks are with B sticks being thicker than A sticks.
When deciding what size sticks to get, it’s important to factor in which musical styles you’ll be playing.
Types of Sticks
Most companies follow the trend of numbering their sticks 2, 5, and 7. However, different lines of sticks will have certain qualities that differentiate them. Different materials are used to create unique products.
Wooden sticks are the most common type of drum stick. Every drummer has used a pair of wooden sticks at one point or another. These will vary in length and thickness as well as have different shaped tips. The type of wood is generally oak, hickory, or maple.
Some drum sticks are made from different types of metal. These are a bit heavier and made for specific purposes such as rock drumming.
Many highly accomplished drummers such as Travis Barker and Chad Smith work with stick companies to produce their own signature sticks. These are made with the help of the drummers to cater to specific style preferences. They’re then sold with the artist’s name to accompany their signature sticks.
Wood Tips vs Nylon Tips
Most drum sticks have wood tips. The wood tips come in a variety of sizes and are made to produce certain sounds from the drums. Wood tips produce an earthy sound from cymbals that a lot of drummers love.
Nylon tips aren’t as common. However, they’re highly popular. There aren’t a variety of sizes when it comes to nylon tips. They produce a tinnier sound on cymbals that tends to cut through mixes better.
Wood and nylon sound the same when they hit drum heads. The difference is in the cymbal sound. Certain musical settings call for both sounds, so most pro drummers keep both types of sticks in their stick bag.
Drum Sticks and Electronic Drums
Many people believe that nylon tipped sticks are better for playing on electronic drum kits. Although that may be slightly true, it doesn’t make the biggest difference. Some drummers will argue that the nylon is better on the mesh heads. However, wood tips are more accessible, meaning most drummers will be using wood tips even on electronic drum kits.
Vic Firth actually has a product called the eStick which is designed specifically for electronic drums. These sticks have wooden tips.
What are the Best Drum Sticks for Beginners?
Learning drums can be an intimidating thing to do. You may have people telling you which drums, cymbals, and sticks are best for you. Opinions may differ depending on who you’re talking to. When it really comes down to it, any drum stick will work. As long as you have the tools to make beats, you should be fine. However, some sticks will make it easier to get going.
There are a variety of sizes to choose from. Heavier sticks may not work too well for beginners because they haven’t yet developed drumming strength and endurance. Lighter sticks such as 5As or 7As will be easier to learn with. Many drum teachers suggest 7As for their students, especially younger ones.
Which is the Best Stick Brand?
This comes down to personal preference. Every stick brand produces sticks of all shapes and sizes that cater to every drummer. However, the most popular stick brand that has consistently put out high-quality products over the years would be Vic Firth.
They have sold so many sticks and practice pads over the years and are endorsed by world-famous drummers such as Benny Greb, Steve Smith, Robert ‘Sput’ Searight, and Mark Guiliana. These drummers do a great job in supporting the company and promoting their products.
Vic Firth arguably has the best social media presence out of all the drum stick brands. This makes them highly relatable as social media is a vital tool for the modern-day drummer. They’re consistently posting videos and doing campaigns to help drummers get their names out there.
There’s a wide variety of sticks out there. Your choice of stick depends on what type of drummer you are. There are some durable tools for rock drummers and heavy hitters. There are also some highly popular choices for metal drummers.
Experienced players will have multiple pairs of sticks for different situations. Their stick bag will have different drumstick models for different venues, settings, and gigs. If you don’t have a favorite stick yet, maybe one from the above list will change your world.