Having drumsticks that will not break after one or two uses is an important part of every drumming endeavor, whether you’re playing smooth jazz, upbeat pop, or hard rock. It is important to choose a quality drumstick (even if it is a little more expensive) that works for you and your music.
One of the most important things you can do to keep your drumsticks from breaking is to make sure you have the correct technique, as this will significantly reduce the stress you put on them. In addition to proper technique (explained in more detail below), there plenty of practical things you can do to ensure your drumsticks’ longevity.
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Choose Your Drumsticks Wisely
When it comes to drumstick longevity, it is best to know before you buy them what type of drumstick will work best for you and your musical style.
There are seven main types of drumsticks which are as follows and range from thinnest to thickest (though varying in lengths):
If you are a jazz musician, then 7A or 8D will be the best drumsticks for you. Because that style of music does not require heavy or hard hitting, you will not have to worry as much about it breaking due to force (if your technique is solid).
However, the “heavier” or more intense the music style (or if you are a new drummer), the sturdier your drumsticks need to be. Be aware of both these factors when choosing drumsticks, as it can save you from frequent breaks.
Other Things to Look Out for with New Drumsticks
When you are purchasing your drumsticks, some other signs to keep an eye out for are:
- Cracks or chips: If cracks and chips are on the drumsticks, they are already damaged and will break much easier and more quickly.
- Stains: Stains indicate that the drumsticks have been stored in wet places, and the stick itself has absorbed the moisture, making them less sturdy and prone to warping.
- Whether the grain runs the full length of the drumsticks: The grains (or the lines in the wood) can also tell you a lot about the drumsticks' sturdiness and how long they will last. Lines that run around the stick or that do not extend down the full length of the stick mean they will break easily.
- The number of grain lines: Each grain line is an area of vulnerability where the drumstick has the potential to break, so try and choose drumsticks with fewer grainlines.
Maintain Correct Technique
While the drumming technique does vary depending on the style of music you play, there are a few fundamentals every type of drummer should adhere to.
First, don’t grip the drumstick too tightly. Not only will you get tired out more quickly while you play, but it will wear down your drumstick much faster. The reasons for this are:
- Lack of give: The drumsticks are hitting a pretty solid and relatively immovable object when it hits the drums. Ideally, you want the drumsticks to bounce off the drum, but if you are gripping them too tightly, this becomes more difficult, and the sticks end up taking the brunt of the force with which you hit the drum.
- Limited flexibility: When your grip is too tight, you’ll end up continually hitting only one part of your drumsticks (usually the tip), which leads to cracks.
Use the Whole Stick
As stated, continually hitting one small area of your drumsticks over and over again, particularly with a lot of force, will make it break much quicker. Depending on your style and how you learned how to play, you may tend to hit the tip or along the shaft. Either way, this is not good for your drumsticks.
Once you have practiced and mastered having a loose grip while you drum, it will become easier for you to spread out the force over the whole of your drumsticks instead of having it concentrated in one small area.
Hit in the Correct Spot
One of the main causes for drumsticks wearing down and breaking quickly is when they are hit on certain areas of the drums. The two main problems are:
Incorrect Cymbal Placement
Cymbals placed too high or tilted in the wrong direction will cause you to hit the edge with too much force. You can fix both these issues by:
- Lowering your cymbals so that when your drumsticks hit them, they do so flat and over the sticks' full length instead of on the tips.
- Making sure the cymbals are tilted toward instead of away from you. This adjustment can be made by turning the knob under the high-hat cymbal so that the top part overlaps the bottom. This will reduce drumstick chipping as you won’t be grating your drumstick against an uneven surface. You can see that in the following video:
Hitting Drums Along the Rim
As with cymbal hits, you want to make sure you are hitting the snare and bass drums flat instead of along the edge. Because their rims are raised, if you hit them often enough or with enough force, it can cleave your drumsticks in half. This goes back to taking the time to practice hitting horizontally from above instead of hitting the drum vertically.
Taking Proper Care of Your Drumsticks
Besides choosing the right kind of drumsticks and learning proper techniques, another way to give your drumsticks staying power is proper care and storage.
Keep Your Drumsticks Dry—But Not Too Dry
We know that exposure to moisture can damage drumsticks and cause them to warp, but sometimes life just happens. Maybe your hands got especially sweaty during a show, or you got caught in a downpour, and you want to dry your drumsticks out as quickly as possible.
Just remember that drying them out too much can also cause them to break easier. So how do you strike a balance between too wet and too dry?
|What to Do||What NOT to Do|
|Dry the drumsticks off with a cloth||Put them near a fireplace, a dryer, in an oven, or anywhere with high temperatures|
|Place the drumsticks in a well-ventilated area||Store them in an area where the sunlight will hit them directly|
When many drumsticks are stored in one container, they can wear each other down and won’t last as long. The best solution is to have them separated with a layer of protection between them in drumstick sleeves. You can also separate them using a drumstick bag.
If you have many drumsticks and would like to keep them together in one box, then use dividers to keep them from bumping against each other.
Use and Rotate Multiple Drumsticks
No matter how well you take care of your drumsticks or how great your technique is, they will eventually wear down and break. The best thing you can do to make them last as long as possible is have several pairs and rotate them. Depending on whether you are a professional musician or just drum as a hobby, you could be rotating several times a show or only once every few uses.
How to Stop Your Drumsticks from Breaking As Fast, Final Thoughts
While no set of drumsticks will last infinitely, there are many ways to ensure that they have a long lifespan. As we mentioned above, choosing the right style of drumsticks, proper technique, storage, and overall care of your drumsticks are just a few ways to make sure that you can enjoy and get as much use out of your drumsticks as possible. Happy drumming!