Drum stick
A percussion mallet is an object used to beat drum
The drum is a member of the percussion group of musical instruments, which is technically classified as the membranophones. Drums consist of at least one membrane, called a drumhead or drum skin, that is stretched over a shell and struck, either directly with the player's hands, or with a...

s and other percussion instrument
Percussion instrument
A percussion instrument is any object which produces a sound when hit with an implement or when it is shaken, rubbed, scraped, or otherwise acted upon in a way that sets the object into vibration...

s. Some specialized mallets are called beaters, drumsticks.
Note: See Rute (music)
Rute (music)
The rute is a beater for drums. Commercially-made rutes are usually made of a bundle of thin birch dowels or thin canes attached to a drumstick handle. These often have a movable band to adjust how tightly the dowels are bound toward the tip. A rute may also be made of a bundle of twigs attached...


Drum sticks

The drum head is (usually) struck with the tip of the drum stick. Tips come in many shapes, such as acorn, barrel, oval and round. The tip is sometimes referred to as the bead. Traditionally, the tip is made of the same piece of wood as the rest of the stick, although there are drum sticks with a nylon
Nylon is a generic designation for a family of synthetic polymers known generically as polyamides, first produced on February 28, 1935, by Wallace Carothers at DuPont's research facility at the DuPont Experimental Station...

 tip conceived by Jonathan Pumphrey and Joe Calato in Niagara Falls, NY in 1958 and the newer acetal
Polyoxymethylene , also known as acetal, polyacetal, and polyformaldehyde, is an engineering thermoplastic used in precision parts that require high stiffness, low friction and excellent dimensional stability....

 tip, conceived by Ken Drinan and Paul Kiersted in the 1970s. The acetal tip produces a brighter sound when playing cymbal
Cymbals are a common percussion instrument. Cymbals consist of thin, normally round plates of various alloys; see cymbal making for a discussion of their manufacture. The greater majority of cymbals are of indefinite pitch, although small disc-shaped cymbals based on ancient designs sound a...

s and is less likely to splinter after sustained or violent use. However, it is prone to cracking or flying off.

Immediately below the tip is the shoulder of the stick, which tapers out. This section of the stick is prone to breaking after or during cymbal use or during rimshot
A rimshot is the sound produced by hitting the rim and the head of a drum simultaneously, with a drum stick. Rimshots are usually played to produce a more accented note, and are typically played loudly. However, soft rim shots are possible....

s if the sticks are held incorrectly, if the drum set is played incorrectly, or, most often, if the drummer plays hard. The rest of the stick is referred to as the shaft, with the butt at the opposite end to the tip.

Players use two sticks, employing either a matched grip
Matched grip
Matched grip is a method of holding drum sticks and mallets to play percussion instruments. In the matched grip each hand holds its stick in the same way, whereas in the traditional grip, each hand holds the stick differently. Almost all commonly used matched grips are overhand grips...

, popularised by Ringo Starr
Ringo Starr
Richard Starkey, MBE better known by his stage name Ringo Starr, is an English musician and actor who gained worldwide fame as the drummer for The Beatles. When the band formed in 1960, Starr was a member of another Liverpool band, Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. He became The Beatles' drummer in...

 in the 1960s or a traditional grip
Traditional grip
Traditional grip is a technique used to hold drum sticks while playing percussion instruments. Unlike matched grip, each hand holds the stick differently. Commonly, the right hand uses an overhand grip and the left hand uses an underhand grip...

, popularised by Sanford A. Moeller
Sanford A. Moeller
Sanford Augustus "Gus" Moeller was an American rudimental drummer, a national champion, educator, and author. Moeller was born in Albany, New York, and began his music education by studying the piano....

 from talks with American Civil War drummers/veterans. With either grip, players keep the balance point of the stick slightly beyond their hands.

Major drum stick companies

  • Agner Swissdrumsticks
  • Super Sticks
  • Vic Firth
    Vic Firth
    Vic Firth is an American musician and is the founder of Vic Firth Company , a percussion stick and mallet manufacturing company that he started in 1963. The company bills itself as the world's largest manufacturer of drum sticks and mallets...

  • Malletech
    Malletech LLC is a manufacturer of mallet percussion instruments and mallets formed in 1982 by Marimba Productions, Inc. The company sells its own line of marimbas, xylophones, and glockenspiels...

  • Vater
    Vater Percussion is an American drumstick and percussion accessory manufacturing company. It was founded by Clarence Vater, and is currently run by his two grandsons Alan and Ron Vater. Although the company began producing sticks in 1956, it did not officially become Vater Percussion until much later...

  • Regal Tip
  • Zildjian
  • Pro-Mark
    Pro-Mark is a Houston, Texas-based American drumstick company owned by founder Herb Brochstein. It is a widely known stick company generally played in drum set, drum and bugle corps and concert bands.-History:...

  • Shaw
    -United Kingdom:*Shaw, Berkshire, a village*Shaw, Wiltshire, a village*Shaw and Crompton, a town in Greater Manchester-United States:*Shaw, Mississippi, a city*Shaw, Washington, D.C., a neighborhood*Shaw, St...

  • Ruby Grip
  • Stunner
    Stunner may refer to:*Stunner , a science-fiction weapon*Stunner , an Israeli anti-rocket missile*Stunner , a mechanical device used in modern cattle slaughter processes*Stunner , a Marvel Comics character...

  • Cooper-man
  • Wincent
  • Hiptrix Glowing Percussion


A mallet comprises a head connected to a thin shaft. Unwrapped mallets, used on glockenspiel
A glockenspiel is a percussion instrument composed of a set of tuned keys arranged in the fashion of the keyboard of a piano. In this way, it is similar to the xylophone; however, the xylophone's bars are made of wood, while the glockenspiel's are metal plates or tubes, and making it a metallophone...

, xylophone
The xylophone is a musical instrument in the percussion family that consists of wooden bars struck by mallets...

 and other instruments with keys made of durable material, have heads made of brass, rubber, nylon, acrylic, wood, or other hard materials; wrapped mallets, mostly used on marimba
The marimba is a musical instrument in the percussion family. It consists of a set of wooden keys or bars with resonators. The bars are struck with mallets to produce musical tones. The keys are arranged as those of a piano, with the accidentals raised vertically and overlapping the natural keys ...

, vibraphone
The vibraphone, sometimes called the vibraharp or simply the vibes, is a musical instrument in the struck idiophone subfamily of the percussion family....

 and other instruments with softer keys (though they can be used on more durable instruments as well), have heads of kelon, rubber, nylon, acrylic or other medium-hard materials wrapped in softer materials like yarn, cord or latex. Wrapped mallets are also the mallets of choice to play suspended cymbal
Suspended cymbal
right|thumb|Classical suspended cymbalA suspended cymbal is any single cymbal played with a stick or beater rather than struck against another cymbal. A common abbreviation used is sus. cym., or sus. cymb. .-History:...

, though drum set players typically simply use drum sticks instead. Mallet shafts are commonly made of rattan
Rattan is the name for the roughly 600 species of palms in the tribe Calameae, native to tropical regions of Africa, Asia and Australasia.- Structure :...

 or birch
Birch is a tree or shrub of the genus Betula , in the family Betulaceae, closely related to the beech/oak family, Fagaceae. The Betula genus contains 30–60 known taxa...


Different mallets are used primarily to alter the timbre
In music, timbre is the quality of a musical note or sound or tone that distinguishes different types of sound production, such as voices and musical instruments, such as string instruments, wind instruments, and percussion instruments. The physical characteristics of sound that determine the...

 of the mallet instrument being played. Typically, softer or thicker mallets are used on an instrument's lower registers and harder, thinner mallets used on higher registers. Mallet choice is typically left up to the performer, though some compositions specify if a certain sound is desired by the composer.

Players frequently employ two mallets in a matched grip or four mallets in a four-mallet grip; however, use of up to six mallets is not uncommon. More than two mallets may be used even when no chord
Chord (music)
A chord in music is any harmonic set of two–three or more notes that is heard as if sounding simultaneously. These need not actually be played together: arpeggios and broken chords may for many practical and theoretical purposes be understood as chords...

s are called for by the composer so that the performer has a wider range of timbres from which to select or to facilitate performance of music that moves rapidly between high and low, and if hit properly can switch between the two pitch
Pitch (music)
Pitch is an auditory perceptual property that allows the ordering of sounds on a frequency-related scale.Pitches are compared as "higher" and "lower" in the sense associated with musical melodies,...



Brushes are a set of bristles connected to a handle so that the bristles make a rounded fan shape. They are often used in Jazz
Jazz is a musical style that originated at the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the Southern United States. It was born out of a mix of African and European music traditions. From its early development until the present, jazz has incorporated music from 19th and 20th...

, Swing music, or Blues
Blues is the name given to both a musical form and a music genre that originated in African-American communities of primarily the "Deep South" of the United States at the end of the 19th century from spirituals, work songs, field hollers, shouts and chants, and rhymed simple narrative ballads...

 music. The bristles can be made of metal or plastic; handles are commonly made of wood or aluminum, and are often coated with rubber. Some brushes are telescoping, so that the bristles can be pulled inside a hollow handle and the fan made by the bristles can be of variable length, width and density. Retracting the bristles also protects the brush when it is not being used. The non-bristled end of the brush may end in a loop or a ball. Though most performers prefer using metallic brushes more than plastic brushes because of their increased durability.

Drum sticks

Drum sticks are usually made of wood, often hickory
Trees in the genus Carya are commonly known as hickory, derived from the Powhatan language of Virginia. The genus includes 17–19 species of deciduous trees with pinnately compound leaves and big nuts...

, oak
An oak is a tree or shrub in the genus Quercus , of which about 600 species exist. "Oak" may also appear in the names of species in related genera, notably Lithocarpus...

 or hard maple
Hard maple
Hard maple is the wood yielded by Acer saccharum in its wider sense . It is a favorite for floors, bowling alleys and furniture. The weight per cubic metre is roughly 740kg....

 and they could also be wrapped in white tape. Other materials used include aluminum (covered with a PVC
Polyvinyl chloride is a plastic.PVC may also refer to:*Param Vir Chakra, India's highest military honor*Peripheral venous catheter, a small, flexible tube placed into a peripheral vein in order to administer medication or fluids...

 sleeve to avoid damage to cymbals), carbon fiber
Carbon fiber
Carbon fiber, alternatively graphite fiber, carbon graphite or CF, is a material consisting of fibers about 5–10 μm in diameter and composed mostly of carbon atoms. The carbon atoms are bonded together in crystals that are more or less aligned parallel to the long axis of the fiber...

 and plastic
A plastic material is any of a wide range of synthetic or semi-synthetic organic solids used in the manufacture of industrial products. Plastics are typically polymers of high molecular mass, and may contain other substances to improve performance and/or reduce production costs...

s such as fiberglass
Glass fiber is a material consisting of numerous extremely fine fibers of glass.Glassmakers throughout history have experimented with glass fibers, but mass manufacture of glass fiber was only made possible with the invention of finer machine tooling...

, nylon
Nylon is a generic designation for a family of synthetic polymers known generically as polyamides, first produced on February 28, 1935, by Wallace Carothers at DuPont's research facility at the DuPont Experimental Station...

 and acrylic
Acrylic glass
Poly is a transparent thermoplastic, often used as a light or shatter-resistant alternative to glass. It is sometimes called acrylic glass. Chemically, it is the synthetic polymer of methyl methacrylate...

. A drum stick is typically a lighter colored wood with wood grains running through them. The colors of the maple and hickory sticks are often khaki or ochre. The sticks that are made of oak are often reddish brown. Some drum sticks have a nylon tip on them to keep the tips from wearing out as fast and to produce a brighter sound on cymbals. These tips may have a semi-transparent look. A typical drum stick is around 1.5 cm in diameter and 41 cm long, although drummer
A drummer is a musician who is capable of playing drums, which includes but is not limited to a drum kit and accessory based hardware which includes an assortment of pedals and standing support mechanisms, marching percussion and/or any musical instrument that is struck within the context of a...

s have a wide range of shapes and sizes to choose from. Many drummers are very particular about the exact shape, size, weight, balance, density, and grain of their sticks. All of these qualities attribute to the "feel" and sound of the stick.

Drum sticks may be designed for use in particular performance contexts. Sticks that are smaller in diameter or balanced farther towards the tip may be intended for orchestra
An orchestra is a sizable instrumental ensemble that contains sections of string, brass, woodwind, and percussion instruments. The term orchestra derives from the Greek ορχήστρα, the name for the area in front of an ancient Greek stage reserved for the Greek chorus...

 playing that requires fine control and soft dynamics. Sticks for street playing (e.g. drum corps
Drum and bugle corps (modern)
A drum and bugle corps, also known as a drum corps, is a musical marching unit consisting of brass instruments, percussion instruments, and color guard. Typically operating as independent non-profit organizations, drum corps perform in competitions, parades, festivals, and other civic functions...

 and marching band
Marching band
Marching band is a physical activity in which a group of instrumental musicians generally perform outdoors and incorporate some type of marching with their musical performance. Instrumentation typically includes brass, woodwinds, and percussion instruments...

s) are almost always thick and weighty, to promote extended production of sound at extreme dynamics. There are different sizes of drum sticks for each situation, designated by a letter and number, e.g. 2b and 5b are thicker, while 5a and 7a are smaller. The number in the designation corresponds to the length of the stick, with smaller numbers being longer sticks, and the letter corresponds to the diameter or gauge of the stick, with the further along the alphabet the thicker the stick, so "b" is thicker than "a".

There is also now a mixture between drumsticks and brushes called a multi-rod. This consists of several thin sticks that are bound together to form one stick. Using this type of stick allows a player to play full strength and still not over play the rest of the band. This happens because as the stick collides with the head of a drum or a cymbal, the energy is spread out over all the rods causing them to fan out slightly, thus dissipating much of the directed force and allowing for a quieter tone. The most common of these is the Hot Rod from Promark, though nearly every major stick maker now has some form that they offer. The size of the sticks being held together also varies. For instance, with Promark, the smallest set is the "cool-rods" made of 19 sticks, then the "hot-rods" made of 19 sticks as well, but with a larger diameter, then "lightning-rods" made of 7 sticks with the same diameter as the hot-rods, and then "thunder-rods" again made with 7 sticks, but also having a larger diameter. The thickness of the stick, or diameter, directly changes the relative force transmitted from the stick to the drum.

As with the multi-rods, there are now also sticks that mix a drum stick with a multi-rod, though these have no definitive name. Promark's "stealth-rods" and "rocket-rods" are this type.

Timbale sticks

Sticks for timbales
Timbales are shallow single-headed drums with metal casing, invented in Cuba. They are shallower in shape than single-headed tom-toms, and usually much higher tuned...

 are thinner than snare drumsticks, have no head or shoulder (are completely cylindrical). They are generally lighter in weight. These come in various diameters and weights.

Other sticks

Some companies (such as Regal tip) have made sticks for hand drums such as congas, the stick having a pad which imitates the sound of a hand on a conga.

External links

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