In worship drums world we hear a lot about snare drums and cymbals and the other big-ticket items. But when was the last time you heard anyone talking about the mini-trees we call drum sticks? We can’t think of our last time either. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever really read anything about picking drum sticks for worship.
So how do you choose the right stick?
Is there even a “right” one? What about mallets!! When should we use those??
The answers to questions like these are purely subjective.
Meaning, there are no wrong answers! (Thank God)
But, just like with anything, there is a process, story, and a reason behind why certain drummers choose certain sticks. And the best way to find out, is to ask!!
So we asked some of our favorite drummers on the planet about their stick choices and why!
You’ll be hearing from some drum legends in the worship and Christian music world!!
Dominic Geralds of Elevation Worship
Harrison Wood of Hillsong Worship
Rains Wall of Sidewalk Prophets
Austin Davis of The Belonging Co.
SO NOW LET’S GET TO THE GOOD STUFF!!
WHAT KIND OF STICKS DO YOU USE?
DOM: “Promark Rebound 5A Long Acorn Tip”
HARRY: “Currently use Promark Rebound Balance 565 or 595. Which is kinda like 5A or 5B but the top ends have a lighter weight on them.”
RAINS: “Vater Los Angeles 5A”
AUSTIN: “Well, I’m between sticks. For the last 6 or 7 years, I’ve been playing Pro-Mark 720 “Intruders”. They’re in-between a 5A and 5B and half an inch longer than traditional length (.580 in diameter, 16.5” in length) But Pro-Mark discontinued them in 2020 sadly…So, I’m in a bit of a rut.”
WHAT WAS YOUR PROCESS IN CHOOSING YOUR STICKS?
DOM: “I like to sit a little further back from the kit so I needed a stick with a little extra length and the added 1/2” on these made them to be the right match for me.”
HARRY: “I used to use the Vinnie Colaiuta signatures because they were great for getting around the kit, and for rudimentary pad practice. But after a while of playing live more frequently, the physical demands of that meant that I needed a longer stick, to maintain a strong velocity. The rebound balances find a happy medium for me.”
RAINS: “I’m constantly checking out new sticks and whatnot but I’ve landed on these for a few reasons!
First of all THE DURABILITY. Having a stick last is super important (I’m a new dad and having something that I’m not constantly replacing is amazing). Vater leaves a higher percentage of moisture in their sticks which help with that. It also gives them a little more natural weight which I really like. I also really like articulation or the tip as well. It’s hard in my opinion to find a good balance between a smaller tip that gives clear articulation but also doesn’t break. I’ve found that with this pair! So basically I’m testing the weight, taper, articulation as well as how long it lasts!”
AUSTIN: “I mean, I’ve been playing since I was 11 and over the years I feel like I’ve tried every type of stick size, shape, length. And basically realized the 5A to 5B range is where I feel the most in control of the sticks. I also love having a longer stick, because I set things up low, but pretty spread out. I like to reach a little bit, cause in most scenarios I’m playing with a lot of energy.
When I became a Pro-Mark artist, I just ordered a bunch of their sticks in the 5A-5B range. Long, short, different tip types. And landed on the 720’s. It doesn’t really matter what brand they are though, a .580 diameter with 16.5 length is seemingly perfect for me.”
IN WHAT SCENARIOS WOULD/DO YOU SWITCH UP THE STICK SIZE/TYPE THAT YOU’RE PLAYING?
DOM: “It just depends, sometimes I’ll play with a 5A long in my left for a heavier snare hand and a 7A in my right for more cymbal definition and clarity.”
HARRY: “I would switch up the sizing probably only when it’s a smaller room or a more intimate setting.. so something maybe a bit lighter perhaps.”
RAINS: “When I have to play a quiet gig or something that needs to be tamed down, I’ll switch up my sticks. I love the Peter Erskine ride stick for anything in the jazz world. That small tear drop tip really gives amazing articulation and feel at low volumes.”
AUSTIN: “Almost never… I use the same sticks for pretty much everything. Unless I’m switching to mallets or brushes for something.
If I were to change it up, it would probably be a slightly lighter stick for ease or a stick with a better tip on it for cymbals in a studio session setting.”
HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN TO USE MALLETS/BRUSHES ON A SONG INSTEAD OF STICKS?
DOM: “When it comes to learning songs, you want to be sure that you’re listening to sounds and tones. In my early years of playing it was sometimes difficult for me to figure out what was being played so I would practice doing swells and cymbals hits with either a stick/mallet or brush and do that on every piece of the kit to really train my ear. When it comes to creating parts, that also requires listening to what the song calls for and being experimental. For example, If you come up with a floor tom part using sticks, try switching to mallets or brushes for a different texture. A different sound can always open your mind and ear to something new that’s inspiring.”
HARRY: “Having studied music and worked as a composer, I feel like having a bigger picture of the musical image helps dictate when I’ll use mallets or brushes. Mallets are probably more common for me to pair with normal sticks, using brushes means I’ll need to plan the pick-ups and put-downs a little more, haha. If the whole song is mallets or brushes, and because they don’t exactly have the velocity range or dynamic range that sticks do, I will think more about the overall journey of the song and save the busier or heavier things til later. If I give too much away in the beginning, I’ve left no room towards the end.”
RAINS: “Mallets and brushes are so awesome. I’m a big fan of utilizing these because I really feel like they help provide a different way to be creative and express yourself in the song. I typically use these if 1. They are in the recording or 2. I’m hearing an idea coming up that would be better served with these instead of sticks. Whether it’s a simple cymbal crescendo into a chorus with mallets or a rhythmic March with brushes on the snare. I think these really help with your overall sound and help drummers play with even more intentionality to what the song needs.”
AUSTIN: “For mallets, I usually determine if I need to play with them if I think the attack of sticks is too aggressive, and want a more muted sound in general. To make the transients more rounded and less rigid.
Brush wise, I feel like a song usually just tells you when you should be playing with brushes. It’s not usually a creative go-to for me, but something that a song kind of screams at you ‘BRUSHES FOR THIS ONE DUH’. I’ll go to brushes when it feels like the song needs a shaker-like rhythm or more subtle subdivision.”
I hope these examples give you permission and EXCITEMENT around choosing the stick that is right for you and your environment!
Play different kinds of sticks!
Mix & match while you’re practicing.
Play a stripped-down set at church with mallets and brushes.
So many fun and creative things await just based on your stick choice!
You may also be interested in these related posts!
- 7 Pro Worship Drummers Give You Their Full Gear Rundown (Bethel, Elevation, Y&F, Hillsong Worship, UPPERROOM, Kari Jobe, & Leeland!)
- Get that Massive Worship Drum Tone with this Industry Secret
- Top 5 Worship Drumming Tips with Brendan Tan (Hillsong Y&F)
- Sidechaining Synth and Drums Live with Hillsong Young & Free
- Drum Tuning 101 with Austin Davis (Kari Jobe Drummer)
- 5 Drum Rudiments to Increase Your Chops with Brendan Tan (Hillsong Y&F) [VIDEO]
- Brendan Tan (Hillsong Young & Free) Drum Rundown [VIDEO]