What makes a great drumstick? The perfect combination of balance, response and "feel". Each of these critical factors is a function of a stick's design - including the shape of the tip, the location of the shoulder, the taper and the thickness of the neck and the species of wood.
Tip shape is critical to the overall sound a stick will produce on cymbals.
Full tear drop tip produces a dark, rich cymbal sound (more lows).
Barrel tip produces a broad sound. Great in the studio.
Small round tip produces a brighter cymbal sound (more highs).
Large round tip produces a "fatter" sound.
Nylon tips produce the brightest sound and are the most durable.
Shoulder location determines the sound a stick will produce on drum heads. It also acts as a fulcrum point, and its proper placement in relation to the thickness of the thickness of the shaft provides optimum stick rebound.
Taper of the neck affects the feel and behavior of a stick. A long taper provides more flex and a faster response, while a short taper is stiffer and offers additional strength.
Thickness affects a stick's overall weight, projection and strength. A thicker, heavier stick creates greater sound and offers increased durability. A thinner stick is lighter, faster and plays with greater ease.
Length affects leverage. A longer stick offers greater leverage and reach.
Wood type is key to a stick's response and durability.
Maple has a fine grain pattern. It produces a light, fast playing stick with the greatest amount of flex.
Hickory has a fibrous grain and is denser and more rigid than maple. For these reasons, a hickory stick produces less flex and a more pronounced sound. It is also capable of withstanding a great deal of shock, making it more durable.