Best drumsticks for beginners 2023: Recommended sticks for budding players

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1. Product guide
2. Buying advice
3. How we choose products

Starting a new instrument is an exciting time, particularly when that instrument is a shiny new drum kit. But with so much already to consider in terms of shells, heads, cymbals, hardware, pedals and more, it can be easy to forget one of the most important parts of a new drummers’ toolkit: your sticks. With so much choice we want to help you overcome option paralysis with this guide to the best drumsticks for beginners.

For drummers, sticks are the primary form of contact between yourself and your instrument. A decent pair of sticks is an essential tool to begin your drumming journey, but how best to navigate a potential minefield of different options, sizes, materials, weights and colours? This guide aims to help budding drummers choose their perfect first pair.

This writer was a beginner once - and has taught many beginners - so knows exactly what to look for in a pair of beginner-friendly sticks. Let's take a look.

Tom Bradley profile pic
Tom Bradley

Tom is a professional drummer with a long history of performing live anywhere from local venues to 200,000 capacity festivals. Tom is a private drum tutor, teaching players of all levels and ages, in addition to teaching at the BIMM Institute in Birmingham. He is also a regular contributor to MusicRadar, with a particular passion for all things electronic and hybrid drumming.

Best drumsticks for beginners: Product guide

Best drumsticks for beginners: Buying advice

Boy in yellow t-shirt plays the drums

(Image credit: Getty Images)

How to choose the best drumsticks for beginners

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To the uninitiated, a pair of sticks is just that – a couple of pieces of wood used for beating the tar out of a drum kit. Those in the know however will appreciate the considerable and tangible difference that just a few millimetres in the length or thickness of the sticks can make. Not only does this affect the feel and playability of the stick but also the tone that it draws from the drums and cymbals.

How does drumstick sizing work?

Drumstick sizes are categorised using a numbering and lettering system which denotes weight and thickness. The lower the number, the heavier the stick and vice versa. The letter traditionally references the intended use for the stick, i.e. A for orchestra or B for band, but as a general rule, B will have the larger diameter. The ‘5A’ has become the go-to standard due to its medium weight, diameter and 16” length. Other popular sizes include 7A which is a lighter, thinner stick ideal for jazz players or those with smaller hands. 2B on the other hand is a seriously chunky and weighty choice which works well for rock or metal styles (although this largely boils down to personal preference).

Are there any alternatives to wooden drumsticks?

In addition to this plethora of options, we can also consider the materials used in the build of the sticks. Wooden sticks are of course the norm, with hickory, maple and oak being the most common, although other materials such as carbon fibre are sometimes used.

What makes a great beginner drumstick?

Beginners needn't get too bogged down in the minutiae of stick weight, length, taper, tip type etc right at the start of their playing journey. Once you have worked out your style, have developed some technique and have a bearing on how hard you hit, you can dial into the detail.

Beginners should be looking for a stick that's not too heavy, not too light, not too long or short and feels comfortable and balanced in the hand. That's why many new drummers start with a 5A, as it represents the best middle ground for all of the above factors. You can then evolve your stick choice from there once you discover more about your stick needs. 

If you're still unsure, it pays to head to your nearest drum store to try a few pairs in the hand and tap a practice pad with them. You should be able to feel what is right for you. Sticks are some of the cheapest things you'll buy as a drummer, so buy a few pairs and experiment at the kit; you'll quickly discover what works for you.

Should I buy signature sticks as a drummer?

It can be tempting to grab the signature stick from your favourite player. Owning a pair of sticks modelled on your hero can be very inspiring, but proceed with caution - these players have honed their playing over years and will have very specific needs from their sticks. And what's good for them might not be so good for you. 

How we choose the products for this guide

Here at MusicRadar, we are experts in our field, with many years of playing, creating and product testing between us. We live and breathe everything music gear related, and we draw on this knowledge and experience of using products in live, recording and rehearsal scenarios when selecting the products for our guides. 

When choosing what we believe to be the best drumsticks for beginners available right now, we combine our hands-on experience, user reviews and testimonies and engage in lengthy discussions with our editorial colleagues to reach a consensus about the top products in any given category.

First and foremost, we are musicians, and we want other players to find the right product for them. So we take into careful consideration everything from budget to feature set, ease of use and durability to come up with a list of what we can safely say are the best drumsticks for beginners on the market right now.

Find out more about how we test music gear and services at MusicRadar.

Tom Bradley

Tom is a professional drummer with a long history of performing live anywhere from local venues to 200,000 capacity festivals. Tom is a private drum tutor, in addition to teaching at the BIMM Institute in Birmingham. He is also a regular contributor to MusicRadar, with a particular passion for all things electronic and hybrid drumming.

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