As a drum teacher and professional drummer, I’m often asked which sticks will suit a newbie best.
Which sticks will put you on the right path to sounding like a drumming magician, whizz-kid or just a downright genius?
Of course the sticks don’t do all the work, but it’s great to know what the professionals use so you can start off on the right foot (or hand).
Fortunately, even high-quality drumsticks are not very expensive, which is why I would recommend that a new drummer should use exactly the same drumsticks that a professional drummer would use.
If you’re in a hurry, check out my top pick for new drummers, this is the classic drumstick that I would recommend for most beginners.
It’s crucial to know that all drumsticks are not made equal! Unfortunately, you can’t just saw a couple of pieces of wood off a tree, or buy from any old drum brand.
Your drumsticks really do matter, and the best quality drumsticks allow you to:
- Get a consistent and even sound with each hand
- Play for longer periods of time without the drumstick breaking
- Move faster around the kit, and become a total drumming ninja
It’s also worth noting that the quality control with the better brands is much higher, meaning that when you buy a replacement pair of the same sticks, they will feel largely the same.
With the smaller brands, you can end up with a drumstick that feels different to the last one, even though you are buying the same brand and model of drumstick.
You want to be confident that your sticks will always feel the same – it’s like playing music with an old friend, rather than playing music with a complete stranger every time you buy a new pair of sticks.
The best drumsticks come from just a handful of the top drum brands – here’s a pro guide to beginners’ drumsticks, and which ones you should choose based on the kind of styles you want to play.
Vic Firth American Classic 5A
The Vic Firth American Classic 5A drumsticks are our top pick for any new drummer. If you’re not sure where to start, these are the perfect option.
I still use these sticks regularly today – they are the firm favourite of the drumming community.
They are a versatile, dependable drumstick that everyone relies on.
A 5A drumstick works in almost all drumming situations. It’s like a rugged vehicle that will drive you through all possible conditions.
In the case of drumming, that means you can use them for a huge variety of musical styles, and you’ll also be able to play at most volumes with these sticks (moderately soft to pretty darn loud!)
You should pick a Vic Firth drumstick over other 5A drumsticks that are out there for a few reasons.
Vic Firth sticks are pitch paired, meaning each of your two drumsticks will produce the same sound when it hits the drum.
If your left stick and your right stick don’t make the same noise, everything you play will sound just a little off and higgledy-piggledy.
As a beginner drummer, we want to learn to make a consistent sound with every note we play.
If you’re going to annoy your neighbours, annoy them consistently!
All the major drum brands have decent quality control (avoid anything cheap), but Vic Firth really sets the standard in the world of drumming.
So back to the Vic Firth American Classic 5As…
These sticks are made of hickory, a tough wood that is far less likely to break – put simply, you’ll get more for your money by buying a hickory stick.
If you can’t wait to begin with the drumming, simply follow the link to Amazon below where you can pick up a pair of these sticks and get started!
If you’d like to find out more about how they ensure that these drumsticks are the best – you can check out the documentary below, which goes into more detail.
Vic Firth American Classic 7A
While not all the sticks we’ll feature today will be Vic Firth, the American Classic 7A are one of my personal favourites that I use for the lighter styles of drumming in my day to day playing.
As a lighter drumstick, they suit those styles of music best that need that cool, laid-back feel – so they’re one of my go to sticks for jazz and other lighter styles of music.
They’re still strong enough to last you for a good chunk of time, and as a lighter stick, they move round the drums more easily.
These lighter sticks are also a great choice of drumsticks for kids, meaning that smaller hands and arms won’t tire as easily. And as long as your child isn’t a hard-hitting drumming maniac, they’re unlikely to break these sticks quickly!
If you’d prefer your child does tire easily and doesn’t do too much drumming as a result, you’d probably be better off with one of the heavier sticks in this guide!
A lighter set of sticks also tends to be helpful for the more complicated patterns and techniques in drumming.
If you’re trying to get a really silky touch on the drums or move fast enough to hit a brand new level of drumming wizardry – these sticks are a great option.
You can find out more about these sticks on Amazon by following the link below.
Promark Japanese Shira Kashi White Oak 5B Wood Tip
There are certain situations as a drummer where we need to make an impressive amount of noise.
As drummers, we’re often called upon to compete over guitar and bass amps, and in a rock and metal setting, this can get pretty intense.
If you’re a beginner drummer that needs (or wants!) to make a lot of noise for jams, rehearsals or gigs, you’re going to need to hit hard.
And the harder you hit the drums, the stronger your sticks need to be to withstand that kind of battering.
An oak stick is a stronger alternative to the normal maple and hickory sticks that most drum manufacturers rely on.
It’ll feel heavier in your hand, and can take a lot more punishment than the average stick.
The Promark Japanese Shira Kashi White Oak drumstick is a super high-quality choice – it’ll make playing with a pair of oak sticks much more enjoyable.
The consistency of the wood in a Promark stick will reduce the amount of vibration that comes through the stick and into your fingers, making playing louder more comfortable than with cheap alternatives.
Promark oak sticks were a firm favourite of Neil Peart, one of the greatest drummers ever to have lived. If it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for everyone!
You can check out a video of Neil Peart playing with some promark oak sticks in the video below.
He likes to use a slightly different size of stick, but for beginner drummers who want to play loud, I highly recommend the 5B, as that’s the classic size of stick for a louder drummer.
You can find out more about this drumstick by clicking on the link below, which will take you through to Amazon.
P.S. If you’re a giant, or someone who just likes to hit really hard – you can check out our full range of suggestions for heavier and stronger drumsticks.
Simply click the following link to find out more about the most highly durable drumsticks.
Or if you’re a rock drummer through and through – our specific guide to the top drumsticks for rock would suit you best.
Vic Firth Nova 5A Wood Tip
Please note: If you live in the US, the Nova series are not that much cheaper than a regular pair of sticks. You may decide to go for the American Classic 5As instead.
If you’re just looking for a budget pair of no-nonsense drumsticks that will just get you playing, these are the sticks for you.
I know that all of this information about different drumstick types and sizes can get pretty overwhelming when you’re first learning to play.
If you just want to get started as a newbie but want to spend as little as possible (without having to play your drums with a fork and spoon), these are your best bet.
The Nova series are considered the ‘B grade’ version of regular Vic Firth sticks. However, Vic Firth has a reputation as one of the best manufacturers of drumsticks in the world, so these sticks still get the job done.
This is a 5A drumstick, which is the most popular drumstick type out there. Rest assured, these sticks will suit the vast majority of musical situations.
You still get the same stick design that you see on more expensive models of Vic Firth sticks – so it still feels like you’re playing with the more expensive alternative.
Like many of the more famous drumsticks out there, this stick is also made of hickory. Hickory is light enough to keep you moving around the drum set – but strong enough to not break too quickly.
If you want to get started with your drumming right now, you can pick up a pair of these sticks on Amazon by following the link below.
Vater 5A Nylon Tip
So far, all the drumsticks we’ve talked about have been made entirely of wood – but that’s not the only option on the table for the discerning drumstick buyer.
Drumsticks like the Vater 5A with nylon tips have made a name for themselves as a way of producing a brighter, punchier sound from your drum set.
Cymbals tend to sound more consistent with a nylon stick, and some people simply prefer the feel of playing with this kind of material.
If you’re after a darker, warmer sound – then choosing a stick that’s made of wood is still your best option.
Of course as a beginner drummer, this is a great time to experiment and find out what works for you.
You can always try a pair of traditional wood sticks, and a pair of nylon sticks, and see which works best for you.
The sticks we’ve picked are the Vater 5A Nylon Tip.
Vater is another drum company with an excellent reputation, particularly around the durability of their sticks.
The experience of the drumming community seems to suggest that on average, a Vater stick is just less likely to break than other similar models on the market.
This can be particularly helpful with a nylon tip stick – as nylon tips have a habit of flying off the end of drumsticks!
While any pair of sticks will break at some point (unfortunately, you won’t know when that will be), it’s a great idea to buy a Vater stick to give yourself the best chance possible of being able to keep drumming uninterrupted!
If you want to find out more about the Vater 5A Nylon Tip drumsticks, simply follow the link to Amazon below for more details.
Zildjian 5A Wood Tip Hickory Black Dip
If you’re after a pair of sticks that not only feel great, but look unique too – you should consider getting yourself a set of Zildjian 5A Wood Tip Hickory Black Dip.
Let’s be honest – drumsticks are a bit dull looking, and it’s great to jazz things up a bit with a more unique style.
Depending on your personal preference – you can get drumsticks that are painted an entirely different colour or patterned.
Zildjian do some great sticks with a ‘dip’ coating – not only does this make the stick look super cool, the dip coating makes the stick less slippy in your hand. This means you are less likely to hurl your drumsticks across the room accidentally!
“Okay, so that’s all great”, I hear you say, “but can’t I buy a completely black stick (or another colour I like)?”
You can of course, but there is a potential issue to be aware of.
I haven’t recommended a fully painted drumstick – as sometimes the paint can rub or flake off onto your drum set.
Which, let’s be honest, unless you were planning on painting your drums – often isn’t what you were hoping for!
A dip option gives you a great looking set of sticks, while reducing the messiness that you could get from some of the other designs.
Zildjian are also an extremely well regarded drum company (who are now merged with Vic Firth) so they’re a trusted choice amongst drummers.
The stick I’ve chosen to recommend here is the classic 5A hickory wood tip. There’s no better type of stick to buy if you’re starting out as a drummer – it’s the most popular type of drumstick in the world!
Check out the Zildjian 5A Wood Tip Hickory Drumsticks (not forgetting that it features that snazzy black dip) on Amazon by following the link below.
Vic Firth Jojo Mayer Signature Series
Is there a band or a certain drummer that inspired you to take up the drums and give it a go?
If there’s one drummer in particular that you really look up to and would love to be able to sound like, you can often choose a drumstick specifically with them in mind.
Over a hundred famous drummers have their own unique type of drumstick, designed by them, and sold to the public by the big drumstick manufacturers.
If you want to use the same drumsticks as your heros – then buying one of these specially designed sticks is the perfect choice.
Famous bands whose drummers have designed a signature stick include The Rolling Stones, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, Frank Zappa, John Mayer and The Who – there are a huge range of signature sticks to choose from.
Most of the big name drummers seem to have a stick designed with Vic Firth or Zildjian, but there are other drumstick manufacturers out there as well who make individually designed sticks.
My favourite personalised drumstick has to be the stick designed by virtuoso drummer, Jojo Mayer.
The reason this stick is so well-liked is that Jojo Mayer is a technical drumming master.
He created what is probably the most important course on drumming technique ever created, which was called Secret Weapons for the Modern Drummer.
And he’s translated all of that knowledge into creating a stick that really allows him to express his technical mastery (and hopefully one day, yours too!)
You can check out one of his crazy performances in the video below.
I really enjoy using this stick in my drumming, it feels much lighter and ‘faster’ than other sticks I’ve used – without losing any of the power that I need to create a big sound.
You can find out more about this stick by following the link below to Amazon.
And if you’d like to see some of the other big name artists that have created their own drumsticks – simply type ‘vic firth signature sticks’ into the Amazon search box after following the link below.
So there you have it!
7 pairs of drum sticks that will suit any fledgling drummer and pave your way towards drumming mastery.
There should be a pair of sticks in this article for everyone – I really hope you find a pair that feel great for you and help make your drumming your favourite part of your day!