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How To Choose A Pair Of Drumsticks – 2B or not 2B?

How To Choose A Pair Of Drumsticks – 2B or not 2B?

Drumstick shopping guide

If you don’t already know what you are looking for, choosing drumsticks can be a daunting task with simply hundreds of options to choose from so let us clear it up a little and guide you through buying drumsticks. The most important thing to remember is that choosing drumsticks is purely a matter of personal preference so whatever you choose you can’t actually be wrong, as long as you are happy with your choice.

Which is the best stick brand?

They are all good so making a choice is really about trying a few of them and seeing what fits with you. Vic Firth, Vater and ProMark are the specialists who have built their names on great drumsticks but Zildjian who are better known for their incredible cymbals also have a long history of making great quality sticks. Meinl are comparatively  new to the drumstick game but their attention to detail and focus on quality means their sticks are already serious contenders.

What do all the sizes mean?

As soon as you start looking at Drumsticks you’ll see sizes like 5A, 5B, 7A, 8D and so on. These can be pretty confusing to understand and a lot of people start wondering if maybe the number is the length and the letter is the width or vice versa. The truth is the number and letter don’t mean anything individually but together they are product codes that describe the size of a stick and they remain consistent across brands. For example a ProMark 5A will be the same size and shape as a Vic Firth 5A and a Meinl 5B will be the same as a Vater 5B.

Which size should I go for?

If you haven’t ever chosen a pair of drumsticks then we normally recommend you start with a 5A. They are a medium size and weight and are suitable for any player of any style. Younger players with smaller hands might prefer 7A‘s as they are a little smaller and lighter. If you would like something a bit heavier than a 5A then the 5B is the way to go or for something really chunky the 2B is the choice.

What difference do nylon tips make?

Most of the popular stick sizes will come with an option of nylon or wooden tips. Nylon tips give a little more attack and clarity than wooden tips and for some drummers they find they get better durability from a nylon tip as it won’t gradually break away but this can depend on your style of playing as some drummers find a nylon tip is just as likely to break clean off as a wooden one is to split.

What difference do different stick materials make?


The most common stick material is hickory it is used because of its extremely strong yet flexible properties make it ideal for building sticks that will survive the beating that most sticks are put through. The little bit of flexibility in the shaft means that the stick is more likely to bend than break under pressure and also helps to produce a feel that most drummers enjoy.


Oak is a harder wood than hickory which means that vibrations travel through it faster this gives drummers are more direct feel with their stick and a harder kick back. An acquired taste that some drummers swear by. Some players find the harder quality of oak makes their sticks last longer but depending on your style they can also split easier as oak doesn’t bend as well as hickory.


Maple is a softer wood than both oak and hickory which means it is not a good option for hard hitters but it is also lighter and very responsive which makes it great for lighter players who want to be able to get round the kit quicker. Maple’s tendency to dent rather than chip or split can make it more durable for some players but a hard hitter could find them breaking quite easily.


Ahead make a range of drumsticks with metal cores, plastic covers and nylon tips. These have been around for a while and are a popular option with drummers who find they are going through drumsticks too quickly. They last much longer than wooden sticks but they are also a good bit more expensive. Lars Ulrich of Metallica has a set of Ahead Metal drums sticks as his signature pair.

What difference does tip type make?

Tip type is a detail that is only likely to matter to drummers who are scrutinising the finest details of their playing but it can make a real difference to how the stick responds. Certain tip types find popularity amongst certain genres for example the round tip is always popular on jazz sticks due to the definition it produces. Barrel and Acorn tips are designed to open up a cymbal or drum more so might be popular with heavier players but at the end of the day the effect can vary depending on what it is you’re hitting and how you are hitting it. Tip type is definitely worth experimenting with though, as a new set of sticks is a lot cheaper than a new ride cymbal.

Why do certain sticks cost more or less?

Generally a set of sticks costs around the £10 mark but there are cheaper options out there and of course more expensive ones too. Cheaper sticks are usually made from a lower grade of wood which might mean that it is more likely to have an imperfection and break easier. Cheaper sticks are also not weight and tone matched which means that you might not have an absolutely perfect pair in your hands. This is less of a concern for beginner drummers but a definite consideration for more experienced players who are focussed on their rolls being as even as possible.

Oak sticks generally cost a little bit more than hickory sticks and a nylon tip also adds a little bit to the price too. Some sticks have special features such as the grip aids added to the Vic Firth Vic Grip and the ProMark ActiveGrip drumsticks. ProMark Firegrain sticks are finished off in flames which make them more durable and give a nice burnt finish.

Should I buy signature drumsticks?

Signature sticks cost a little bit more than standard sticks but can be a fun way to try different styles of sticks and also help you get properly into the playing style of your favourite artists. Almost every big name drummer has a signature stick made in their name. These sticks often feature interesting finishes, colours and sometimes quirky design features which make them unique from all the very similar sticks out there.

Are novelty drumsticks a good option?

Novelty drumsticks are a great option for the right drummer but if you are buying them as a gift a more experienced player might not thank you for them! For younger drummers who are less focussed on feel and response then novelty sticks such as Hotsticks and Firestix Light Up Drumsticks are a great option. Having something fun with a bit of personality can help a youngster engage with their instrument and anything that gets them playing regularly is great. Hotsticks come in a range of brightly coloured designs including sparkle wraps and Firestix are plastic drumsticks that light up when struck.

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