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Drumstick Anatomy: 8 Factors Every Drummer Should Know
By Vic Firth
5/1/2014 10:56:00 AM

 A great drumstick is the perfect combination of balance, response, feel and sound properties. Each of these critical factors is a function of a stick’s design— and knowing a little about each of these components will help you determine which stick might be best for you and your situation.



The thickness of a drumstick’s shaft affects its overall weight, projection, and strength. A thinner stick plays faster and creates a lighter sound on drums and cymbals.



The length of a stick affects its leverage and the reach. When comparing two sticks with the same diameter and taper, a longer stick will feel “front heavy,” giving the player increased leverage and power.



Stick material is the key to its response and durability. Material also has a unique effect on the sound, flexibility, and lifespan.


MAPLE has a fine grain pattern, producing a light, fast playing stick with the greatest amount of flex. These sticks are perfect for the artist who is playing lighter types of music or prefers a larger diameter stick without as much weight.


PERSIMMON is known for its density, durability and resistance to high impact. Sticks made from persimmon produce a full-bodied and slightly darker sound than other wood.


HICKORY has a fibrous grain pattern and is denser and more rigid than maple. A hickory stick produces less flex and is capable of withstanding a great deal of shock and stress, making it more durable.


OAK is a denser wood with a more rigid response than hickory. The natural hardness of oak produces clear, defined cymbal articulation from the tip and an incredible cross-stick tone that really cuts through.


CARBON FIBER sticks are quite possibly the most durable sticks ever, lasting significantly longer than traditional wood sticks. Made from an advanced aerospace-grade carbon fiber composite, Vic Firth’s TITANTM sticks are the first of their kind to emulate the feel of wood.



Taper affects the feel and balance of a stick. The amount of taper and location of the shoulder (where the taper begins) determines whether the stick feels “front heavy”, “back heavy” or evenly balanced.


A LONG taper produces more flex and faster response.


A SHORT taper increases the size of the neck of the stick, providing more power and durability. A short taper feels “front-end heavy.”


A MEDIUM taper provides the best balance between the butt and the tip.



The tip shape and tip material are critical to the overall sound produced on drums and cymbals (being more pronounced on cymbals). Each tip shape and size adds different characteristics to the sound, depending on the amount of contact surface area. It’s helpful to know that a tip with a very large surface area will create a dark, rich sound, while a tip with a very small surface area will produce a light sound with clear definition.



Each material produces a different sound color and varying degrees of articulation.

WOOD tips are the most common tip material, producing a balance between full sounds and great articulation on drums and cymbals.


NYLON tips produce a brighter sound and provide increased durability.


DUAL-TONE or SWIZZLE sticks offer a standard stick tip on one end, with a felt ball on the butt end. This provides the player with the ability to quickly switch to a soft mallet for cymbal rolls or warm tom sounds.



The final coating applied to a stick may also affect how it feels in your hand. Note that not all hands are the same! Individual differences in perspiration will affect the way each player perceives “tackiness”.


LACQUER-LESS sticks are finished off with a “dry-tumble” technique that creates a very smooth, natural and organic feel without the use of a lacquer finish.


LACQUER gives the player a very natural stick feel. A few sticks, such as the Keith Carlock signature, have heavy lacquer applied, which increases the tackiness.


PAINTED sticks have a medium amount of tackiness to the feel.


VIC GRIP is an anti-slip coating applied to the gripping area of the stick, providing the most slip resistant grip.



Because individual tastes vary from player to player, many sticks offer unique properties that set them apart from the others. The sticks in this category may include special design properties such as contoured grips, special paint options, specialty tips (felt, metal, dual), “Kinetic Force” inserts, unique tapers or enlarged shoulders. For specific qualities, check the full descriptions in this catalog.


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