If you are a frequent drummer, you will now how annoying it can be if your drumsticks are constantly breaking. Sure, they are classed as one of the ‘consumable’ pieces of your kit, this doesn’t mean you should have to continuously pay out to replace drumsticks.
Understanding why your drumsticks are breaking is the first important step to finding out how you can prolong the time in between replacing your drumsticks and to get the very best out of them.
Drumsticks will eventually break due to general wear and tear however they may break more quickly if they are gripped too tightly or the tapered section is used to strike the drum head or cymbal instead of the tip. Drumsticks with a longer taper or tips made from wood are likely to break more easily.
So, we now know some of the general reasons why your drumsticks might be breaking more frequently than you would like. Now we can look in a little more detail at why and how these different factors lead to stick damage and how you can reduce this to really get the most out of your drumsticks!
Why do Drumsticks Break?
Some degree of drumstick wear and tear is inevitable with lots of use and over long periods of time. This is because regularly striking the drum head, rim and cymbals will slowly cause small amounts of damage inevitably to your sticks.
However, there are certain things which can cause damage to your sticks faster than the usual wear and tear. These can result in your drumsticks cracking and inevitably breaking.
Replacing drumsticks after a certain amount of time is always recommended, but you don’t want to have to buy new drumsticks constantly after continuously breaking them!
Therefore, it is a good idea to figure out why your drumsticks are breaking in the first place, meaning that you can then hopefully work to reduce or slow down this damage to your sticks.
The first thing that could be harming your drumsticks is your technique. Professional drum teachers are the best option to show you how to properly hold and grip your drumsticks to prevent you from holding onto them too tightly.
Holding your drumsticks too tightly can result in a lot of force being applied to the stick which can inevitably result in them breaking more frequently.
Holding drumsticks in a slightly lighter grip not only allows you a better drumming technique overall, such as drumming speed and power, but can also help to preserve your drumsticks for longer!
How you strike the drum or cymbal can also contribute to how likely your drumstick is to break. For example, striking the drum head or cymbal with the tapering section of your drumstick instead of the drumstick tip itself can cause more damage, especially if a lot of force is used.
It goes without saying that the material of your drumstick will contribute to how easy or difficult they are to damage.
Drumsticks vary in the material of the majority of the stick, as well as the tip.
The main body of the drumstick could be made from the following materials which have slightly different characteristics:
- Hickory- shock absorbing, lighter but less durable than oak
- Oak- more durable, heavier, popular for rock music
- Maple- lighter, suited to fast beats, less durable
- Synthetic materials such as carbon fibre or aluminium- generally very durable
Drumstick tip materials:
- Wood- less durable, widely used, produces a range of sounds
- Nylon- more durable, produces distinct sound
Check out my in-depth comparison between nylon and wood tip drumsticks to learn how it affects sound, feel and durability.
The size of the taper of your drumstick can also affect how durable it is. Drumsticks with a shorter taper are generally less prone to breakage, and a smaller proportion of the stick is thinner than the shaft where it is less durable.
How Often Should Drumsticks be Replaced?
You might wonder how regularly you should replace your drumsticks under normal circumstances. If your drumsticks break, you will definitely need to replace them to get the most out of your drumming! But what about if your drumsticks haven’t yet broken?
Well, this largely comes down to the type of drumsticks you have, how frequently you play and your technique. This means that there isn’t just one rule for everyone!
Many drummers use their drumsticks until they see signs of wear and tear and their quality starts to decrease. For some, this can be for months apart, whereas it could be much for frequent for some. The key to this is simply analysing your drumsticks before playing to determine how close they are to possibly splintering.
How to Prevent Drumstick Breaking
The first thing to consider if your drumsticks are breaking too often is- WHY?
As soon as you work out what the likely cause of your drumstick breaks are, you have the starting point for preventing this.
Choosing a high quality drumstick will help to prevent them breaking prematurely. Oak and synthetic drumsticks with a shorter taper are more durable. Gripping the drumsticks with a more relaxed and looser grip will also prevent them from breaking too quickly.
The key factor to consider with your drumsticks is quality, regardless of the material you have chosen. There are differences in the durability of each material, so if you tend to hit the drum heads pretty hard and would prefer a drumstick that lasts a little longer, you could try oak or even a synthetic material.
You could also choose a drumstick tip and taper length that is known for being more durable for playing tracks where you will be using rim shots or hitting drum heads a little harder than usual. This may help you to not damage your less durable drumsticks.
It might be a good idea to try different material drumsticks in a music store first, to make sure that you will like the sound of feel of the drumstick.
If you are concerned that it may actually be your technique that is causing your drumsticks to break frequently, speak to a professional drum teacher. They will be able to tell you how to perfect your technique to reduce the probability that your drumsticks will break.
To conclude, while you can expect some wear and tear to your drumsticks after using them for a long time, this doesn’t mean that you should have to be replacing them too frequently.
If you find that your drumsticks are breaking often, you may need to check that your chosen drumstick is suited to your playing style, and also check with a professional drum teacher that you are using the right technique. These are both common reasons why your drumsticks may break too frequently!
To find out more about getting the most from your drum equipment, as well as info on some of the most frequently asked questions, don’t forget to take a look at our other blog posts!