One important component of being a drummer is having good drumsticks. A good pair of drumsticks will bring up the tone of your drums and help them cut through the mix. But how durable are drumsticks over time? Do drum sticks wear out?
In short, yes. Drumsticks do wear out over time. How often you play with the drumsticks, how hard you hit the drums, the drumstick’s thickness, how you grips the drumsticks, and the drumstick’s size determines how fast or slow the drumsticks wear out.
There is a lot to cover on this topic, honestly. That’s because many factors determine how long a drumstick will last before it wears out. And we’re going to take a look at all of them.
Afterward, I’ll give you some tips on how to keep your drumsticks in good condition for a long period. And then I’ll recommend some of the most durable drumsticks available today. Let’s get straight into it.
Why Do Drumsticks Wear out?
Let’s take a look at some of the things that determine how fast or slow drumsticks degrade.
Type of Genre Played by the Drummer
The type of genre a drummer plays directly affects how long their drumsticks will last. What do I mean?
Genres like blues, jazz, and ballads require drummers to play softly. Their touch on the drumheads or cymbals is a bit more subtle. For this reason, soft playing drummers tend to keep their sticks for quite a long time without them wearing out. And they don’t replace their drumsticks often.
On the other hand, rock and roll, punk, and heavy metal drummers tend to replace their drumsticks quite often. That’s because they hit very hard on the drums and cymbals, which causes their sticks to wear out much faster.
Also, some genres require you to use different types of drumsticks for different parts of the song or setlist.
For instance, a particular ballad song may require you to use brushes for the intro, and the first verse of the song, switch to multi-rod drumsticks for the first chorus and second verse, and then traditional drumsticks for the bridge and chorus. This is just a hypothetical arrangement.
In this situation, the drummer has to change the drumsticks he’s using to fit the different sections of the song. This doesn’t put a lot of stress on a single pair of drumsticks. And this means the drumsticks will not wear out as fast as the drumsticks of a drummer who uses a single pair of drumsticks for an entire gig.
The material used for the drumsticks
Sticks made of maple wood are usually lighter, flexible, and fast to play with. However, the downside of maple wood drumsticks is that it wears off fast and can easily break.
On the other hand, drumsticks made of hickory wood are more dependable than maple drumsticks. Hickory drumsticks are the choice for many drummers worldwide because of how versatile it is for different styles of playing.
Nonetheless, it can break with much effort exerted on the stick.
Oak drumsticks are known for their dense, durable, and hard-hitting feel and therefore unlikely to break with ease. Oak drumsticks may break only when it is put under extreme stress by hitting the drums very hard. And even for that, you might end up damaging your drum heads rather than the sticks themselves.
From my experience, oak drumsticks last longer. And they also produce a better rim shot and richer tone than the hickory and maple drumsticks. Typically speaking, the Promark Japanese Shira Kashi 5B is an example.
Sticking to oak drumsticks has drastically reduced the number of times I replace my sticks compared to the other woods. Another example is the Vater 5B wood tip, but I will on any given day choose the Promark. They have richer tones and mostly last longer. For this reason, anytime I am at the music store, I look for oak.
The amount of time spent playing the drums with the same pair of drumsticks and how frequently you use them directly affects how fast the drumsticks wear out.
The drumsticks of a drummer who plays for two hours every day will wear out faster than the drumsticks of a drummer who plays once a week for an hour.
The more you use a particular drumstick over time, the weaker they become as they wear out. And this can lead to an instant break without any prior notice.
Drummers with the traditional grip will notice that their left-handed stick wears out easily as against the right-handed one. This is because the left-handed stick partly hits the rim just at the middle (or shoulder) of the stick while playing the snare.
Within a few minutes into the session, the shoulder of the stick will begin to have bent all around the shoulder of the stick, resulting in early wear off within 1-2 weeks or sometimes a few days.
Drummers with the French and the German grip may also fall within this category, but most drummers with the American type of grip do get most of their stick wearing off quickly due to the style of grip.
Other drummers hit the edge of the snare closer to the rim, and this mostly weakens the stick from the tip to the neck, causing a usual break at that part.
The drum part you hit
The drum part you hit and how hard you hit it all contribute to the drumsticks’ wear and tear and can even cause the drumstick to break. Let me explain what I mean.
It will take a while to break a heavy 2B drumstick by playing the snare or toms. If you hit it hard enough, you might rather end up damaging the drumheads with just a couple of strokes.
However, hitting the cymbals, ride or bell, and the edge of the hit-hat with the same 2B drumsticks will wear it out much faster than hitting the drum heads.
Parts like the drum hardware, edge of the cymbals, and the rim of the snare and tom rims wears out drumsticks faster than hitting directly on the drum head.
Drumstick size and weight
As you may already know, drumsticks come in different sizes and weights. And how thick and dense a drumstick is will determine how fast it wears out.
2B is the thickest and heaviest drumstick there is. These drumsticks tend to last longer and don’t wear out easily. This makes them ideal for metal and rock drummers.
7A, on the other hand, is the thinnest drumstick there is made as jazz and ballad drummers. 7A drumsticks wear out very easily, and they are susceptible to breaking quite easily.
In essence, the thicker the drumsticks, the longer it takes to wear out.
How long should a pair of drumsticks last?
On average, a pair of drumsticks should last anywhere between 1 – 6 months. How long drumsticks lasts depends on the build quality, thickness, how hard the drummer hits, and how often he uses them.
Typically speaking, a pair of drumstick’s lifespan depends on the drummer and many other factors we’ve already talked about.
How hard you play will determine how long you keep your sticks. Climatic conditions of the drumstick will also determine how long the stick will last.
Drumsticks owned by hard-playing drummers as well as drummers who exert a lot of energy when playing may not even last for a day. But soft playing drummers may use their stick for months or even a year.
When sticks are kept from extreme hot conditions, they tend to have a longer lifespan, and their durability isn’t ruined.
But I would recommend to every drummer to acquire a pair of drumsticks from time to time to reduce the pressure on a single pair of sticks. It is also not advisable to own only one pair of drumsticks or attend a gig with just a single pair. You might find yourself in a tight corner when one breaks.
When should I replace my drumstick?
If you notice the drumsticks peeling off at the tip, slight fracture at the tip, shrinking of the drumstick’s neck, or any damage around the shoulder, you should do well to change them as soon as possible.
Sometimes you will also notice your drum’s tone has changed. It may not be the drum heads, but rather the drumsticks have worn out.
It’s a good idea to replace your drumsticks once you notice these symptoms. Although, you might get away with playing with worn-out drumsticks on a few gigs. But you’ll never know when they will actually break. It could be right in the middle of a gig, and you certainly don’t want that to happen.
What Drumsticks lasts the longest?
If you are looking for drumsticks that have excellent build quality, durable, and last longer, here is what I recommend.
Promark Japanese White Oak 5B
The Promark Japanese Shira Kashi (on Amazon) is a standard 5B diameter type of drumstick made for heavy playing drummers. It is designed to suit rock, pop, punk, and pop. It is perfect for drummers who find the 2B drumsticks bigger in hand. That’s because 5A drumsticks are a bit smaller than the 2B.
It has a nylon tip which produces a brighter and more articulate sound during play. And just as the name suggests, this drumstick is made of oak, which is the most durable wood used for drumsticks.
This means you’re definitely going to use these sticks for a while before they eventually wear out. There are many things to say about the Promark drumsticks, but that’s not the point of this article. However, you can check out its ratings, reviews, and specifications on Amazon.
Vater Wood Tip 5B
Unlike the Promark made of oak wood, the Vater 5B Wood Tip (also on Amazon) is a hickory series type of sticks with 16inch long and 1.54cm across diameter that is very responsive, comfortable, and balanced-type of a drumstick.
They come in acorn tips and are extremely versatile. I have had the opportunity to use both drumsticks. And I would say that for a much comfortable and balanced type of stick, the Vater will be the ideal option. However, if you are looking for a more durable drumstick with a longer lifespan, oak wood (Promark) is the best option.
How do you make drumsticks last longer?
To keep your sticks from wearing off, or breaking constantly and lasting a little longer than usual, try
- Not to hit the edge of the hi-hat or symbols
- To be gentle on the ride or bell
- To avoid hitting the edge of the toms
- Getting additional drumstick to reduce the stress on one pair of drumsticks
- Get fresh sticks for major gigs to give more clarity on strokes as against tone from worn-out sticks
Any of the oak wood, preferably the wood tip type of drumstick, is the best choice every drummer can opt for. It could be anything from the rarely used 2B through to the 5B, 5A, and 7A.
Also, I recommend that before you purchase a pair of drumsticks, you should know if you are a soft-hitting drummer or a hard-hitting one. Then you can choose the right wood type, thickness, length, and size of drumsticks that will work for you.