When selecting drumsticks, drummers have a choice between wood, metal, and plastic options. Plastic drumsticks have some advantages over traditional wood drumsticks, but also some drawbacks. In determining if plastic drumsticks are “good,” drummers need to consider factors like sound quality, feel, durability, and price.
What are plastic drumsticks made of?
Plastic drumsticks are made from various types of synthetic polymers, often nylon, acetyl, polycarbonate, or some combination. The exact materials and production process varies between brands. Plastic drumsticks aim to provide some of the benefits of wood, like a warm, rich sound, while also being more durable and consistent.
What are the potential advantages of plastic drumsticks?
Here are some of the main benefits that plastic drumsticks can offer over traditional hickory or maple wood drumsticks:
- Consistency: Plastic drumsticks don’t have natural inconsistencies like woodgrain that can affect balance and sound.
- Durability: Plastic is generally more chip and crack resistant than wood.
- Weather resistance: Plastic won’t warp or crack as easily in humid/dry conditions.
- Bright sound: Some plastic drumsticks produce a very focused, bright tone.
- Lower cost: Inexpensive plastic models can be cheaper than high-end wood sticks.
- Unique feel: Plastic has a different vibrational feedback and rebound compared to wood.
The high degree of consistency in plastic drumsticks appeals to some drummers. You can be confident that every stick will be identical in shape, size, and weight. With wood, there are always slight variations.
What are the potential disadvantages of plastic drumsticks?
Here are some of the downsides that plastic drumsticks may present in comparison to wood:
- Slippery feel: Plastic can be more slippery than wood, especially with sweaty hands.
- Harsher vibrations: Plastic transmits vibrations into the hands more than wood.
- Odd rebound: The rebound off drum heads may feel unnatural or inconsistent.
- Strange sound: Lower-end plastic drumsticks tend to have an odd, synthetic tone.
- Environmental impact: Most plastic drumsticks are not biodegradable like wood.
The feel in the hands is really a matter of personal preference. But many drummers complain that plastic drumsticks cause hand pain and numbness more easily due to the rigidity and vibrations.
How does the sound of plastic drumsticks compare to wood?
This depends greatly on the specific plastic drumstick model and brand. But some general observations can be made:
- Cheap plastic drumsticks have a dull, lifeless, artificial sound.
- Higher-end plastic drumsticks mimic the warm, rounded tone of wood.
- The most affordable wood drumsticks still tend to sound better than cheap plastic.
- Plastic is capable of producing a focused attack and bright, cutting high frequencies.
- Coated plastic drumsticks can reduce some unwanted high frequencies.
The sound profile is really personal preference. Rock drummers often favor the projection and attack of plastic. Jazz drummers may find plastic too bright, and prefer the blend and nuance of wood.
How durable are plastic drum sticks compared to wood?
Plastic drumsticks are generally more durable than wood, but it depends on the specific models. Here’s how they compare:
|Wood Drumsticks||Plastic Drumsticks|
|Impact resistance||More prone to cracking and splintering||High impact resistance|
|Chip resistance||Wood tips slowly chip away with playing||Plastic resists chipping and fraying|
|Weather resistance||Moisture can cause warping or cracking||Consistency in any humidity|
Keep in mind that even plastic drumsticks can still break from extreme rim shots or misuse. But plastic is less prone to the cracks, chips, and warping that wood experiences over time with normal playing.
Are plastic drumsticks better for beginners?
Plastic drumsticks can potentially be a good choice for beginners for a few reasons:
- Durability means less money wasted on replacements.
- Bright attack helps learners hear stick definition.
- Consistency helps build technique without variability.
- Lower cost allows experimenting without big investment.
However, more advanced drummers caution against getting used to the unnatural feel and odd rebound of plastic. Wood drumsticks, though requiring more refinement, teach better technique for the long run.
Which plastic drumstick brands are the best?
Some of the top plastic drumstick manufacturers include:
- Promark: Makes the popular Rebound balanced plastic drumstick model.
- Vic Firth: Offers the SD4 synthetic drumsticks with bold sound.
- Zildjian: The 5A model is one of their more popular acrylic drumsticks.
- Regal Tip: Provides the bright-sounding Powerhouse plastic drumstick line.
- Los Cabos: Known for the durable, vibrant Composite drumstick series.
The major drum companies now all offer plastic drumstick options. But quality and materials still vary. Trying out different brands is recommended to find your preference.
Are plastic drumsticks more eco-friendly than wood?
Plastic drumsticks have some sustainability advantages over wood, but it’s complex:
- Production of wood sticks contributes to deforestation and resource use.
- Plastic production utilizes fossil fuels and leads to pollution.
- Wood is biodegradable, while plastic sticks create more waste.
- Quality wood sticks are reusable for years vs. single-use plastic.
There are pros and cons on both sides regarding sustainability. The best option is using any sticks responsibly and attempting reuse or recycling when possible.
Are plastic drumsticks worth the cost?
Whether plastic drumsticks are “worth it” depends on your needs as a drummer:
- Beginners may benefit from low-cost plastic sticks for practice.
- Drummers wanting bright, cutting sound may favor plastic.
- Those wanting soft, blendable sound are better with wood.
- Frequent breakage could justify more durable plastic.
- Environmental concerns may rule out plastic sticks.
Consider your budget, musical needs, technique preferences, and ecological impact. Weigh if benefits like durability or tone outweigh drawbacks like feel in the hands.
Plastic drumsticks have some legitimate benefits in durability, weather-resistance, and bright, projecting sound. But many drummers still find the feel and rebound of wood more natural. Plastic works well for some drumming styles and applications. But wood likely remains ideal for building quality technique. The main advantages of plastic are consistency, durability, and cost-efficiency. The drawbacks are feel, tone, and environmental impact. Trying out different plastic brands and models can help determine if a particular option suits your playing needs and preferences.