If you are a purist just like us, you are probably here because you believe that the best drumsticks out there are made out of wood. And we would tend to agree with you.
Wooden drumsticks offer several advantages such as the unique sensations they offer when you play, their way to absorb vibrations and their flexibility.
However, there are several options of wood available on the market and it can be very easy to be completely lost. So Oak, Maple, Hickory (Chinese or American)… What is the best wood to choose when buying your drumsticks?
The answer will depend a lot on your preferences and what you will expect from your drumsticks. But here are a few tips that will help you make your choice.
Oak is, with Maple and Hickory, one of the top 3 types of wood for drumsticks. It is usually appreciated for its resistance and its weight as it is the heaviest option for wooden drumsticks.
Oak is ideal if you are looking for a lot of feedback while you’re playing. It allows for louder hits without requiring too much strength.
However, it doesn’t absorb much of the vibrations which can be tiring for the wrists and could damage your cymbals in the long run. Also, its lack of flexibility makes it easy to break on a wrong hit instead of bending like other wood types.
- Resistant and decent longevity overall
- Good feedback for practicing thanks to its heaviness
- Loud playing without much effort (can be good for heavy styles of music)
- Its stiffness makes it prone to break on a wrong hit instead of bending over time, which makes its longevity quite random depending on your drumming
- Doesn’t absorb much of the hits’ vibrations which can be harmful to the wrists and cymbals in the long run
- Can be too heavy for most drummers
With its really lightweight and delicate touch, consider Maple as the opposite of Oak. Really popular among Jazz drummers, for example, Maple is about 20% lighter than Oak, but it is also much more fragile.
You should try Maple drumsticks if you are seeking a very delicate touch and plan on playing softly such as with Jazz or in specific situations like in a church where you can’t play too loud.
Maple drumsticks can also be a good way to make fast drumming easier if you are struggling with a specific track. However, the rebound is much stronger and might require some practice before you get used to it.
- Very easy on the wrists and the cymbals as it is very light
- Makes it easier to drum faster when some tracks require it
- With a good rebound and a delicate touch, it is perfect for softer drumming
- Very fragile, so it can be hard on the wallet if you play heavy with Maple as you will break them very often
- Not ideal for practicing and/or beginners as it provides very small feedback due to its lightweight
If there is one wood that built a big reputation for itself thanks to its versatility, it is Hickory. Hickory is usually considered the most popular wood for drumsticks because it stands perfectly between Maple and Oak in terms of weight and density.
One common thing drummers like about Hickory is that it is dense and heavy enough to enjoy good longevity, while still being flexible enough to absorb more vibrations from the hit. In fact, it was used by the people of Scotland to make golf clubs for this very same reason.
Always look for American Hickory as it usually comes with much better quality than its Chinese counterpart. It is a bit more expansive, that’s true, but the additional longevity and the better touch make up for the price.
- By far the most versatile option which is good if you don’t want to have multiple types of drumsticks with you all the time for different tracks or music styles
- Provides good feedback and feeling at the same time thanks to its density and flexibility, which makes it a good option for practicing and beginners
- Very decent longevity
- Usually not the cheapest option
- As it is versatile it is probably not the best option for you if you are very specialized in soft or heavy music styles
- Oak is good to play heavy and loud
- Maple is very good to play softly or in lighter situations
- Hickory is a good compromise between these two options
So the best wood for your drumsticks is… the one that you choose based on your style and own preferences! And the best way to find out is to try for yourself. An interesting experience you can try at home is to play the same groove with different drumsticks and notice the difference.
At Vikory we are big believers of Hickory but we had to recognize that most big brands didn’t make good use of its potential. So we created our own Hickory drumsticks with a very specific process. If you want to know more about it, you can check it out here.