Really, there’s no fix frequency at which you should replace your drumsticks. It depends on your drumming style, music genre you play, how often you drum and material and quality of your drumsticks. Some drummers (looking at you punk rock and heavy metal folks) change their drumsticks multiple times in a live gig, others may only change their drumsticks a couple of times each year.
In general, you should replace your drum sticks when:
- it is broken, duh – for those who are trying to push the envelop, if any part of your drumstick is no longer intact, it is broken.
- it is fraying badly and have sharp splinters when you run your fingers over it (this can damage your drum kit!)
- it doesn’t feel balanced or when your left and right sticks no longer seem to rebound equally
- it looks out of shape (if your sticks look like they’ve been starving and have a really thin neck, yea it’s time.)
- the tips are no longer symmetrical.
If you’re a beginner or aspiring drummer who wants to know more, I share more below:
Do drumsticks wear out?
Yes. The constant impact between your drum sticks and drum heads or cymbals will definitely wear out your drumsticks.
If you love your rim shots, you may find yourself breaking drumsticks more often than others as well.
Also if you tend to hit the sides of your cymbals or hi-hat when you drum, you’ll tend to notice that your drum sticks would start fraying.
How long do drum sticks last?
Wooden drumsticks tend to last between 3 to 5 months for most beginners who are clocking in weekly practice on an acoustic drum set. This is a rough gauge based on 5A hickory drum sticks.
If you’re practicing on an electronic drum kit, your sticks would tend to last longer between 5 to 12 months.
Also, thicker drum sticks tend to last a little longer.
If you’re using carbon fiber or plastic (why?!) drumsticks, their lifespan will vary.
That said, if you find yourself breaking drumsticks very frequently (eg. multiple broken drumsticks in a short span of a month), you may want to do one of two things:
- Revisit your basic drumming techniques (more below),
- Get better quality drumsticks – choose from trusted brands like Vic Firth or Promark. If you can get their basic drumsticks in bulk for additional savings.
How do I know if I should change my drum sticks?
You should be able to feel a difference as your drumstick wears out over time.
As mentioned above, in general it’s time to replace drum sticks when:
- Either side is broken
Don’t continue drumming with a broken drum stick, it will damage your drum kit and also open you to the risk of having splinters landing in your eyes.
- They are faying badly and have sharp splinters when you run your fingers over them
Likewise, change your drumsticks if you feel any sharp splinters or edges along them. It’s cheaper (and easier) to change your sticks then to have to replace your drum head.
- They no longer feel balanced
A brand new pair of drumsticks should be equally balanced, with less weight near the tips and more weight where you grip.
A clear sign of this is when you feel like you’re exerting more energy to hit your kit with either hand, or when one stick no longer rebound as well as the other.
To test if your sticks are balanced, roll them on a flat surface.
A balanced pair of sticks would roll straight forward. Conversely, an unbalanced pair would veer off to one side. When this happens, you would start to experience lesser rebound as well. You can start shopping for a new pair of drum sticks when yours start to feel unbalanced.
- They look out of shape
New sticks are symmetrical with a nice taper from the shaft to the tip.
If yours looks lopsided, have unsymmetrical tips or tapers to the tip at varying angles, it’s time to start shopping for a new pair.
How do I increase the lifespan of my drum sticks?
If you’re prone to breaking sticks, here’re some tips to consider.
- Revisit your drumming technique
If you love rimshots, take note of how hard you’re hitting your rims and the angle at which you’re going for it.
There are techniques to get a loud, powerful rimshot without using excessive strength. But that’s a topic for another day. You can start by watching this video:
Another common destructor of drumsticks are the cymbals. Take note of how you’re hitting your hi-hats or crash, some drummers tend to hit the edge of the cymbals frequently. This will damage your drum sticks fast.
If you notice fraying near the shaft of your drum sticks, you probably fall in this category. Hitting the edge of your cymbals often can also damage the cymbals and they are relatively more expensive to replace. It is best to tweak your technique or adjust the angle/height of your cymbals.
- Tape your drumsticks
If you find yourself hitting the edge of your cymbals often, tape your drumsticks while you rectify your technique. The tape will serve as a protective layer and reduce fraying.
Do take note that taping your drumsticks will alter its feel and weight and could take some time to get used to.
- Revisit your choice of drumsticks
If you’re a hard hitter, go for hardier woods, heavier drumsticks or even carbon fiber drumsticks.
These tend to last longer but may be more pricey per pair. Look for bulk options that could help reduce your cost.
Or, change your drumming style. 😅 You don’t have to beat the life out of your drum kit for a good sound or to have a good time, really.
Can I tape my broken drumsticks?
Well, it depends.
If you’re looking to get through a practice session, go ahead. Tape it up securely, get your practice done and then head out to get a brand new pair.
Taping your drumsticks to survive a live gig? Well, I wish you good luck. It’d be pretty awesome if the broken bits fly off into the mic of your lead singer lol. Jokes aside, needless to say, if you’re prone to breaking drumsticks, have a couple of spares at every gig.
Is it normal for drumsticks to break?
Not really, most drummers would have changed their drumsticks before it reaches that stage.
Although it’d make a great video, its actually quite dangerous to have your drumsticks break while you’re drumming because you just don’t know how and where the broken bits will end up.
Check the condition of your drumsticks regularly, and before every live gig!