You should replace your drumsticks if one of the following has occurred:
- It has broken at the shoulder, shank or neck of the stick
- The tip has come off (wooden or nylon tip)
- The tip is no longer intact and has sharp edges (this will ruin your drumheads) (wooden tip)
- It has splintered severely from playing rimshots
- The neck of the drumstick has become quite thin
- The sticks look okay but the balance feels off
- The right and left stick have started to sound differently
- The wood has gotten soft from old age
What are the signs I need to replace my old drumsticks?
As you’ve seen at the top, there are quite a few absolutes to determine when we should replace our drumsticks immediately.
But apart from the very clear reasons like a broken stick there are a few signs which will tell you the end of a pair of drumsticks is near. You generally want to quickly examine these areas of your drumsticks before or at the end of every session.
- Tip - Look for chips/sharp edges or loss of form/tip has become soft
- Neck/Shoulder - The neck and/or shoulder have become thin(ner)
- Body/Shaft - This part is starting to splinter (from playing rimshots)
How often do you replace your drum sticks?
- How long do drumsticks last?
- How fast do drumsticks normally wear out?
- What’s the average life of your drum sticks?
I've bundled these common questions into one short concise answer because these are essentially all the same question: How often should drumsticks be replaced?
Speaking for myself I do about a month with a pair of sticks. I’m talking about practicing, teaching and recording lessons. But I generally tend to really use them up. That’s mostly a personality/upbringing thing though…
Any of you heard “Finish your plate!” and “Don’t let it go to waste!” growing up? Man that sticks with ya.. My girlfriend and I now applaud my daughter for saying she’s had enough instead of making her ‘finish her plate’. Wanna know the result? She also says she’s had enough when eating candy, cake and chips at parties. So later in life when it’s time for her to replace her drumsticks, I just know she’ll make the right decision...
Anyway, back to the matter at hand.
How long do drumsticks last?
This all depends a lot on the type of music you play, how hard you play, how you hold the sticks and how you set up your drums. Then it also depends on your specific style of playing. Do you play rimshots and do you play a lot of crashes? Then your drumsticks will probably wear out pretty soon as well.
To know how often you should replace your drumsticks we should first examine the reasons why we replace our drumsticks with new ones.
Why should I want to replace my drumsticks with new ones?
Now I’ll give you a few reasons why you absolutely WANT TO replace your drumsticks in time.
#1 Better feel
New drumsticks will have a better balance than old ones. Especially if they are equal in weight and density, which all major brands make sure they are these days. This will make for a much more predictable rebound and much better control for you.
New sticks sound great. Cymbals in particular will sound a lot better with new sticks than they do with old ones. And because of the nice sound you will feel great playing with new sticks.
#3 No splinters in your hand
This is especially true if you play traditional grip as well as rimshots when playing matched. When the stick begins to splinter in the rimshot area and you then switch from matched to traditional you’re bound to get splinters in your hand. This is a natural thing because in traditional grip the fingers are in front of the fulcrum. So it’s only logical to have our ring and middle finger in the area where those nasty splinters are.
#4 Avoid wear on heads
Your cymbals will sound a little less nice than they should but they won’t get damaged from playing with old sticks. But your heads certainly will.
If the tip of the stick is becoming increasingly flat and sharp you will damage your heads. If they are old as well then it won’t matter too much but if you’ve just changed heads on the entire kit I would seriously advise you to examine your sticks as well, the tips in particular. Because saving ten bucks on a pair of sticks sounds reasonable until you risk damaging a set of heads worth at least fifty..
#5 Avoid a messy carpet and possibly ouch..
This is one of my pet peeves in the studio with drum rugs. They are really nice looking and all but wooden splinters have a tendency to get stuck in the rug so you can’t get them off/out when vacuuming.
So more often than I would care to admit I’m kneeling down beside the snare drum trying to convince the wooden chip to let go of its firm grasp of a piece of the rug. Sometimes the convincing part also requires some nail scratching. And what do you know, having a splinter injected into your fingertip right underneath your nail is NOT too much fun. But I’m sure that it will feel much better as soon as you start applying pressure to it by holding a drumstick. Hmm. Quite unexpectedly this appears to make the sensation even worse.
So maybe next time I should change drumsticks a little sooner..
Conclusion & Bonus Tips
To me drumsticks and pedals are to our instrument a little like what the tyres are to a car. They are the things directly in contact with what we play/drive. You don’t want to
On the other hand, drumsticks aren’t cheap, so if you’re breaking quite a few you might want to investigate ways in which you can prolong their life.
Luckily for you I've written an article on precisely that. Check it out here.
About the Author
Music and drumming have pretty much dominated my life for the last twenty five years. I enjoy every facet of it, and I intend to keep doing so for many more years to come.
Fan of music since 1981
Drummer since 1989
Teacher since 1993
Professional musician since 1996
Composer since 2002
Owner of Skillz Drum Academy since 2011
Author since 2014
Blogger since 2018