The Anatomy of Drum Stick Sizes

Learn drums with the essential guide to drum stick sizes, from 5A to 2B for drummers

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Drum stick sizes from A to Z

Drum stick sizes are often denoted by a letter and number combination, such as 5A, 7A, 2B, and so forth. This coding system, though seemingly cryptic at first glance, is actually quite informative once you understand its components.

  • The Letter: Generally, the letter indicates the intended application of the stick. For example, ‘S’ stands for “street” or marching band use, ‘B’ for “band” or orchestra, and ‘A’ for “orchestra” or more general use. However, this designation has evolved, and nowadays, ‘A’ and ‘B’ are more indicative of the music style or preference, with ‘A’ sticks being slightly lighter and ‘B’ sticks heavier.
  • The Number: This usually gives an idea of the stick’s circumference or thickness. Lower numbers like 2 or 5 indicate thicker sticks, suitable for heavier playing styles, while higher numbers like 7 or 8 designate thinner, lighter sticks for genres requiring a softer touch.
Essential guide to drum stick sizes, from 5A to 2B

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Understanding the Variations

Within these basic categories, there’s a world of variation designed to suit every playing style and preference. For instance, a 5A stick is considered a great all-rounder, versatile enough for various music genres, from rock to jazz. In contrast, a 7A is lighter and thinner, perfect for jazz and acoustic sessions where a lighter touch is needed. On the heavier end, 2B sticks offer the heft required for rock or heavy metal drumming.

Special Drum Stick Designations

Beyond the standard size codes, manufacturers often add letters to denote special features:

  • N (Nylon tip): Offers a brighter, more defined sound on cymbals.
  • F (Felt tip): Provides a softer, more muted impact, often used in jazz.
  • X: Indicates an extended length, giving more reach and leverage.

Selecting Your Perfect Drum Stick

Choosing the right drum stick size is a highly personal decision that depends on several factors:

  • Music Genre: Your preferred music style heavily influences stick choice. Rock and metal drummers might lean towards thicker, heavier sticks like 2B for more volume and durability. Jazz, pop, or acoustic players might prefer the finesse of a 7A or 5A.
  • Playing Technique: Consider your grip and how hard you play. If you have a lighter touch, a thinner stick might work well. For drummers who play with a lot of power, a thicker stick can withstand the force better.
  • Comfort and Feel: Ultimately, how the stick feels in your hand is paramount. It should be comfortable to hold for extended periods, not causing strain or fatigue. Experiment with different sizes and materials to find what feels best.
  • Experimentation: There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, so experimenting with various stick sizes and types is essential. Many drummers have different sticks for practice, studio recording, and live performances, depending on the sound and feel they’re aiming for.

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Tips for Choosing Drum Sticks

  1. Start with a Standard: If you’re new to drumming, starting with a pair of 5A sticks is a good baseline. They offer a balance between weight and versatility.
  2. Consider the Venue: The size of the venue and whether you’re playing acoustically or amplified can influence your choice. In smaller, intimate settings, lighter sticks might be preferable.
  3. Don’t Overlook the Tip: The tip shape (teardrop, oval, acorn, ball) affects the sound produced, especially on cymbals. Try different tips to see which complements your playing style.
  4. Durability Matters: Heavier playing styles require sticks that can withstand the impact. Look for those designed for durability without sacrificing comfort.
Essential guide to drum stick sizes, from 5A to 2B for drummers


Navigating the world of drum stick sizes can seem daunting at first, but understanding the basics of the sizing system and how it relates to your playing style can make a significant difference in your performance. Remember, the best drum stick is the one that feels right in your hands and complements your playing style, allowing you to express yourself fully on the drum kit. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different sizes and materials until you find your perfect match. Happy drumming!

Get ready to take your drumming to the next level. Get expert tips on coordination, drumming techniques, improvisation and more in the post titled Charting Your Drumming Journey”. 

Written by: Raul Rodrigues: CEO of Drumap, Drummer, Music School Director and Mariano Steimberg: Drum Professor at Berklee College of Music, Valencia Campus.

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