Sticks (again): Which brand is the best (i.e., consistently well-finished, durable, straight)?

stick2it

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For a long time, Vic Firth has been my go-to manufacturer for drum sticks (and brushes and mallets). I'm mostly a small group jazz player, and I like, especially, an 85A and the longer "freestyle" version of the same, both made of hickory with wood tips. But in the past couple of years, I've purchased Vic Firth drum sticks online that have felt a little rough in the hands or have had beads that are uneven (which translates to too-uneven sounds produced when playing a ride cymbal). For my Vic Firth pairs that are a bit rough or uneven, I give them a very light sanding with very fine sandpaper. But I shouldn't have to be doing this, it removes a little of the lacquer finish, and I never had to do this with Vic Firth sticks that I purchased years ago, many which have held up well over the years. (I'm still a fan of Vic Firth heritage brushes and timpani mallets.)

There are many brands of sticks out there: old ones like Promark, Regal Tip, and Vatar; and new ones like Innovative Percussion, Wincent, and Scorpion.

Which drum stick brand is best (i.e., consistently well-finished, durable, straight)?
Which brands are uneven in quality?
Has anyone else experienced inconsistencies with Vic Firth drum sticks (since they were bought by Zildjian)?
 

bpaluzzi

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I'm biased, but I've never had a problem with Innovative Percussion in the nearly 20 years I've been with them. Straight, even weight, a finish that isn't dry but isn't glossy, and a wide variety of sticks, including some really unique pieces (the yarn wound kick beaters and the "Broomz" synthetic broomsticks, as examples).
 

langmick

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Vater, rarely have any issues. Their pitch matching out of the box isn't the best, but getting 3 pairs and matching works for me.

Recently got a pair of Wincent 5As, not bad at all. Little heavier feeling than the Vater 5A.
 

varatrodder

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I would use Vater or Innovative Percussion if they weren't so slippery. I tried to use Vater for a few years, but I just couldn't hold on to them. They have great quality and a great feel, but I have very dry hands so I use Regal Tip for the finish.

I have some Innovative sticks that I use for practice and pad work.
 

High on Stress

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I would use Vater or Innovative Percussion if they weren't so slippery. I tried to use Vater for a few years, but I just couldn't hold on to them. They have great quality and a great feel, but I have very dry hands so I use Regal Tip for the finish.

I have some Innovative sticks that I use for practice and pad work.
I’ve been using Sex Wax on my Vaters and it works well but I also prefer Regal Tip finish for my dry hands. I might go back to Regal Tip if they become more consistent in terms of quality and availability but now I’ve gotten used to the stiff feel of the Vaters. Very solid and durable sticks. Vic Firth chip and wear down too quickly for me. Promarks are also decent but don’t last as long for me as Vater. It just took me a while to get used to the density of Vater. I still don’t like the Vater butt end shape.
 

varatrodder

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If you're into the small batch thing, LA Backbeat makes some amazing sticks. The models that start with "B" (not their B stock) have a longer taper. The "J" models are a lighter weight, similar to maple. The "X" models have a little extra length.

I really like the B550, B595 and the B535X.

 

Lee Van Kief

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If you're into the small batch thing, LA Backbeat makes some amazing sticks.
2nded, really love LABB sticks. They feel like they’re made with love and they are. His lathe has been down for a while and thus a good amount of models were OOS, but looks like he got it back up and running recently.
 

mtarrani

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If you're into the small batch thing, LA Backbeat makes some amazing sticks. The models that start with "B" (not their B stock) have a longer taper. The "J" models are a lighter weight, similar to maple. The "X" models have a little extra length.

I really like the B550, B595 and the B535X.

Innovative Percussion has nothing that interests me based on sizes, but LA Backbeat does! Thanks for mentioning them and providing a link. I am going to purchase a few models - I like what I see in their catalog.
 

speady1

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I'm a Los Cabos guy to the bitter end. I played another big-name brand for many years and thought they were great until I tried a pair of the Los Cabos red hickory sticks. In 5 years, (I buy about 48 pairs each year) I have received one stick that wasn't perfectly straight. Always perfectly weight and pitch matched, even though I really don't care about that, but they are. The finish is great for me, the denser wood absorbs more shock to my old hands, and they last forever compared to white hickory.

For full disclosure, I became an endorsing artist after my first 6 months playing their sticks. They are a family-run business and do it the right way from soup to nuts...
 

bpaluzzi

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Innovative Percussion has nothing that interests me based on sizes, but LA Backbeat does! Thanks for mentioning them and providing a link. I am going to purchase a few models - I like what I see in their catalog.
I'd be interested in hearing what sizes you feel are missing from IP's line -- always good to get that kind of feedback!
 

mtarrani

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I'd be interested in hearing what sizes you feel are missing from IP's line -- always good to get that kind of feedback!
I do not use sticks thicker than .520 (and .512 is my preferred diameter), nor do I use sticks shorter than 16 inches. They have no sticks that come close to meeting both of those attributes.
 

bpaluzzi

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I do not use sticks thicker than .520 (and .512 is my preferred diameter), nor do I use sticks shorter than 16 inches. They have no sticks that come close to meeting both of those attributes.
Gotcha. Yeah, those are pretty extreme requirements, but it's always good to see potential blind spots in the product lineup.

Thanks!
 

mtarrani

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Gotcha. Yeah, those are pretty extreme requirements, but it's always good to see potential blind spots in the product lineup.

Thanks!
Promark's Elvin Jones model is my go-to sticks. Meets all of my requirements per above specs. Bopworks Swing model is right in the ballpark too, as is Regal Tip's Jazz model (which is not easy to come by these days.) LA Backbeat does have some models that also work.
 

bpaluzzi

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Promark's Elvin Jones model is my go-to sticks. Meets all of my requirements per above specs. Bopworks Swing model is right in the ballpark too, as is Regal Tip's Jazz model (which is not easy to come by these days.) LA Backbeat does have some models that also work.
Yup, it looks like the Elvin Jones is the only stick at ProMark that meets those specs. Vic Firth has 3 matching models (American Jazz 4 and 5, and the Questlove signature), and Vater has 1 (BeBop 500).
 

mtarrani

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Yup, it looks like the Elvin Jones is the only stick at ProMark that meets those specs. Vic Firth has 3 matching models (American Jazz 4 and 5, and the Questlove signature), and Vater has 1 (BeBop 500).
I have the Questlove Signature, but do not use it much. I need to use it more so I am accustomed to the length, which is quite a bit longer than the Elvin Jones model. On those sticks (the Elvin Jones) that guy's hands were gigantic, and even in my much smaller hands those sticks seem on the thin side - I cannot imagine why he opted for the sizes of his signature sticks and was still able to apply the power and precision that he did.
 

Igen Drum Sticks

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Growing the customdrumsticks catalog, making sticks no longer available as the industry continues to get older more corporate, more buy outs. Make diameters. 495 to .750 13 inches long to 21 inches long, actual spun nylon tips, not injection molded. Must be 20 different types of nylon tips at the moment....keep learning things after 38 years...probably the most versatile at making odd drumsticks on the planet..
 

T-2

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I like LA Backbeat too. Frank makes my favorite jazz duo/trio stick. I've been using Firth at work for at least 30 years, I think they're consistent. Not always weight balanced but I have enough sticks around to work it out. I can't think of another brand that I feel secure with on that level.

For concert snare sticks, I really like Freer.

I think the only company that disappoints me is one of the ones I love the very best: Regal Tip.
 
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Masecar

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Capella had my favorite finish. I'd buy some new ones, but it seems like CJ is only making one stick, and it's not what I'm looking for.

Regal Tip were inconsistent on a good day, but now impossible to order, if you're expecting any time frame at all.

Pro Mark, Vater, Los Cabos, and Innovative Percussion all have similar satin lacquer that doesn't stick to my dry hands at all.

Meinl sticks don't stick to my hands and so far I've had two of two pairs of sticks lose half a barrel tip within a week or two of buying them.

Vic Firth is okay. I play VF 5A Double Glaze sticks.
 


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