So? What’s in your stick bag? Aside from drum sticks of course. The contents of your drumstick bag will obviously be related to the kinds of gigs you’re doing. My bag contains a bunch of different things. I’m lucky enough to do a different style of gig regularly, from jazz gigs to weddings to 3 piece rock gigs, to even the odd Cabaret style show and each one brings with it a different set of challenges that may require a different tool.
Dependent on the gig, my jazz gigs require two main staples – the drum stick and the brush. Stick wise, I’m a Vic Firth guy and HD4 seems to work well. They’re light enough to work on thin cymbals and not overpower the band. Usually I’m playing alongside and acoustic bassist and when the tempos get a little faster, thinner sticks with less weight and the right kind of tip, work well against the bass and other instruments (piano/guitar and saxophone usually).
I have a pair of Vic Firth Heritage Brushes in the bag for ballads. Brushes are fun and often looked at as a dark art. There are some things that may need practiced initially but they can also be lots of fun if you’re open to using a different sound and texture. The Heritage brushes are really comfortable to use – the handles are rubber which are non slip and also don’t make too much of a noise if they knock on the snare rim, which is important if you’re playing with a singer or generally just really quietly. The wires are soft enough so that they give underneath the pressure if you push harder than normal so they create a great tone on the snare drum. A great brush – check them out.
With these gigs, the average playing time is 3 hrs, so for me, I need something that’s not so heavy that I get fatigued but not so light that I have to really dig in to cut through lots of guitar or bass and get, well, fatigued. The Vic Firth 85A is great for those kinds of gigs. They sit between a 5A and an 8D in the range in both weight and size and let me have enough volume without hitting too hard but also, if I need to dig in, they’re awesome. They also work really well for when I play with my Connected band as that music needs a little more than the HD4 gives me.
I also have 2 rock trios that I’m part of (Hercules Mandarin and Driven By Harness). There is no real finesse in these gigs as the music calls for really simple rock playing and for these gigs I’m reaching right for a 5A. I’m not a big guy. In fact I’m quite skinny so a 5B would be too big and cause me to fatigue after about 3 tunes, however a 5A is perfect for letting me dig in and rawk and also sit easily when the music is quieter.
Recently I’ve been doing some gigs that require different things for more or less each artist (Cabaret gigs). I have Mallets and Rods in various guises. The Rute Rods or Promark Hot Rods are ideal for lighter playing situations and I’ve used both with great effect. For lighter cymbal work and rolls for ballads, the Chalklin MS24 are my best pals. They’re soft enough to let you start your cymbal rolls quietly but build quickly when you need them. This is perfect for me as I use thinner cymbals so when it’s quiet, if I used heavier mallets, they may make the cymbal speak too quickly.
Lastly, in my bag I keep a bunch of spares. Some are there because of experience and some are there as I think it makes sense. I snapped a pedal spring one night and was stuck without a spare. So I have pedal springs in my bag, always. Snare tape or cord, felts, hi hat clutch and cymbal seats are all in my bag now due to various kit share gigs and not having these things available. If you have to put a £400 ride cymbal on a cymbal stand without a seat and felt, needless to say you don’t really want to hit it the same way as if you had it seated properly. The final thing, and one of the most important. Ear Plugs! I never leave without them.
So there you have it. The contents of my stick bag. Hopefully it provides you with some food for thought. The stick selection available now is huge which means there is literally a stick that will suit everyone. Drummers Only carries a great selection including Vic Firth, Promark, Zildjian and Vater all of who make a wide variety of sizes, wood types, tips and more. Check out different sticks, different rods and brushes. You never know what might work for you.