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Using different sticks for different sounds...


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For a time I would only buy one size of drumstick (7a), but now I find it useful to use very heavy sticks for a certain sound...even when playing lightly.


I have even heard of drummers who use a different size stick in each hand.


Anybody have any hints or comments on all the different sticks available?


Included in this category would be all the types of brushes, (metal, plastic, wood), mallets, and special FX mallets with shakers built in, and also those floppy leather stick things, and rakes etc....




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Hey jamo....


Sometimes I will flip a stick around in my left hand or use hot rods. I have also experimented with the Johnny Rab saw tooth sticks. I am toying with the idea of becomming a better brush player but I am pretty boring when it comes to sticks and focus mostly on patterns and technique. I like a gener LA Fusion for light stuff and the Zildjian Vinnie Calaiutas for hard stuff.



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Hey, This is an age old experimentation with me.


Ever since high school, I have prefered a stick with a round bead on it. For some reason this has just suited my needs better. I went through a many-year-phase, where I used nylon tips. No more ... wood for me now.


Lately, though, I have been doing a lot of "un-plugged" drumming in the Nashville area. (label showcase stuff where they prefer low volumn playing) I use Blasticks, Hot Rods, Brushes, or a combination of any or all! It has really broadened my view of playing and the sounds that can be produced. With most of these gigs, I am only using Bass Drum, Snare (jungle snare or my DW side snare), and in some cases HiHat with a 10" slash mounted on a second clutch on top of the hihats. You really have to become creative when using such a limited set-up!


You should try this sometime!



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i'm really picky about sticks on ride cymbals- nylon tips and large wood tips seem too harsh to my ears.


i like the sound of the vic firth 'buddy rich' but i stopped using them for several reasons- the white paint on them mucked up the grooves on my cymbals, the tips chipped too easily, and the biggie, only one pair in every 4 or 5 i tried had 'the sound'.


i switched to zildjian 'gary chaffee' model, and the 'peter erskine ride' is nice too-




last week i tried my first johnny rabb- the '5a ball end standard' and i'm sold! not only do they have the cool ride sound the buddy rich's had, but they're consistent from pair to pair! plus, the ends don't seem to chip easily, at least not in the 45+ hours i have on them so far...


usually i prefer a lighter stick- 6a or 7a, but the rabb 5a doesn't feel 'clubby' at all, and the ride definition is nice and sweet.


the only complaint i have with the rabb's is the finish- they're very slick. i used a rough-grit sandpaper on the handles to get a better grip on them, but i suppose i'll break down and get some stick grip tape for the next pairs i buy.

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I used to use different sizes / models of drumsticks; one type for jazz, one for rock, etc. I'm now at the point that I use one style of stick (VATER Fusion) no matter what I play. Early in my career I didn't have the technique to play with one type of stick ... I had to switch because I couldn't play soft enough, loud enough, fast enough, etc. I feel very comfortable now using one model of stick, regardless of the venue or style.


Now when it comes to different textures/colors ... that's a different story. I use all of Vater's products such as the Whip and AcouStick ... and I have some ProMark Multi-Rods in my stick as well (shhhh...don't tell Vater!). I keep a wide assortment of brushes in my stick bag: nylon (varied sizes), wire, plus Louie Belllson Stick/Brush. Mallet wise I have a pair of Zildjian Symphonic Cymbal Mallets which are GREAT for suspended cymbal rolls ... and I'll use them from time to time on other instruments such as toms and congas. Just an FYI ... becareful to not catch a rim when using these as the handles are thin birch and will break easily. I flip them over to have a "rattan" sound if needed. The Vic Firth SD6 Swizzle stick is also in my stick bag. The SD6 has the Bolero wood tip on one end and a hard felt mallet on the other. Great for heavy tom playing, jungle drums, etc. I use these on my congas, etc. as well ... for various effects.

And last, but not least ... I have a pair of Chop Sticks in there. These are great for cymbal work ... nice, thin and light. I've even used them live when I've needed a thin sound while playing a drum loop groove. Playing near the rim of the snare has given me some interesting sounds.


Using different striking devices is a great way to create so interesting sounds, effects, etc. You can come up with sounds that sound "processed", plus make a drum/cymbal sound in way that is different from it's "normal" sound. Not everyone has a 10" Auxiliary Snare or the time to re-tune a drum between songs. Making use of different striking devices, plus where and how you strike the instrument can go a long way.


Experiment and have fun with it ... but work it all out at home first. You need to know what sounds you can come up with and what you have at your disposal BEFORE you get out in front of a crowd ... especially if it's a paid gig. An example being that if I was going to use chop sticks on my snare, it's tough to be consistent when doing rim shots. I need to have practiced at home so that on the gig ... I'm there. Missing every other back beat or losing the groove (because you dropped a chop stick) is a good way to get yourself fired. Don't take the risk! Create on stage, but know what tools you have at your disposal before hand.





Bart Elliott


Drummer Cafe - community drum & percussion forum
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