5a and 5b are two of the most common drumstick sizes, but which is the best option? In this article I’ll explain the size differences between these two sticks and the effect it has on the sound and feel of the sticks.
5a vs 5b Drumsticks
5a drumsticks are thinner and lighter compared to 5b drumsticks. 5b drumsticks feel more powerful and are louder compared to 5a drumsticks. Both 5a and 5b drumsticks are the same length and are good options for beginners.
|Better for smaller hands
|Better for larger hands
|Better for rock and metal
|16” in length
|16” in length
Understanding the Numbers and Letters
Drumstick sizes are dictated by a number and letter.
- The number refers to the weight of the drumstick, the lower the number, the heavier the drumstick. For example, a 5a drumstick weighs more than a 7a drumstick.
- The letter refers to the diameter of the drumstick. A 5a drumstick is thinner compared to a 5b drumstick. This will also influence the weight of the drumstick.
The letter “A” stands for orchestra (A is used as it is the last letter and using O may be more confusing as it looks like a zero). The letter “B” stands for band which is a medium-weight stick.
Okay so with that said, there are actually two differences between a 5a and 5b drumstick:
- A 5b drumstick is approximately 5% thicker than a 5a drumstick. 5a drumsticks have a diameter of 0.565″ whereas 5b drumsticks have a diameter of 0.595″.
- A 5a drumstick is lighter than a 5b drumstick, because it is thinner
Although there is a weight difference between the two sizes, it is only caused by differences in the diameter (thickness). Hence, why the number “5” is unchanged.
5a and 5b drumsticks have the same length of 16″.
A 5b drumstick is thicker and hence, heavier than a 5a drumstick. This means that a 5b drumstick is more powerful and produces a louder sound when used to hit a drum with the same force as a 5a drumstick.
A 5b drumstick is typically more suitable for heavier styles of music such as rock and metal where more power is beneficial. A 5a drumstick on the other hand is good for softer styles of music such as jazz and indie where less volume is needed.
With that said, 5a and 5b drumsticks are still “standard” sizes so are very versatile and suitable for all styles of music. It’s recommended to choose whichever feels best to you.
Here is a YouTube video where you can hear a comparison of 5a and 5b drumsticks.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which Stick Size is Best for Beginners?
Both 5a and 5b drumsticks are good for beginners, however 5a drumsticks are usually selected for less experienced drummers. This is because 5a drumsticks are thinner and lighter so typically easier to control. The added power and volume that a 5b drumstick provides is not really beneficial for beginners.
Are 5b drumsticks less likely to break?
5b drumsticks are slightly less likely to break compared to 5a drumsticks because they are thicker and hence, stronger. However, 5b drumsticks are only 5% thicker so in reality there is not much of a difference in strength between them and 5a sticks.
Check out this comparison between 5a and 7a drumsticks.
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