There are so many variations when it comes to drumstick size that choosing a pair can be a bit overwhelming. All drummers develop stick preferences over time, but where do you start?
It’s best to start with the base types of drumsticks, which are 5A, 7A, 2B, and 5B. When you learn how each of these feels, you’ll get a decent idea of what you want in your hands.
In this particular guide, we’ll be looking at the differences between 5A and 7A drumsticks. These are the two most popular sizes for sticks, so they’re a good place to start.
You don’t get drumsticks more commonly found than 5As. These are often called the “standard size,” and other drumstick sizes are explained in comparison to them.
Most 5A drumsticks have a length of 16” and a width of around 0.565”.
Those measurements can differ slightly depending on which model you’re looking at, but that’s the common and expected size.
These sticks are great for versatility in your drumming, as they work well for every style of playing. Whether you’re a hard hitter or a gentle player, 5A drumsticks will do the job well.
Here are some drummers to check out that use 5A sticks:
- Neil Peart
- Ringo Starr
- Phill Collins
- Dave Grohl
7A drumsticks are slightly less commonly used, but they’re still a favorite among many drummers in the music industry. They’re lighter sticks than 5As, making them good for players with a softer touch.
Most of them are around 16” in length, but they have diameters of about 0.540”. The smaller diameter is typically what makes them lighter.
Again, those measurements will differ from stick to stick, so it’s easier just to think of 7As being lighter options than 5As.
They’re not as versatile, as they mainly cater to lighter styles of playing.
Here are a few drummers to check out that are known to use 7A drumsticks:
- John Densmore
- Anika Nilles
- Elise Trouw
- Daru Jones
Difference Between 5A and 7A Drumsticks
Weight is the biggest difference between 5A and 7A drumsticks, and it’s often the only feature that differentiates the two.
5A sticks are a bit heavier than 7A ones, making them feel more powerful in your hands.
5A sticks aren’t known to be all that heavy, though, meaning that 7A drumsticks are just seriously light.
The weight difference comes from the thickness of each stick type. 5A drumsticks feel bulkier in your hands than 7A sticks, as their larger diameter gives you more surface area to grip onto.
While it affects feel greatly, it also affects volume. With thicker 5A sticks, you can get more volume from your drums with less effort. 7A sticks will always sound lighter due to having less weight behind your strokes.
There isn’t much of a difference regarding the length of 5A and 7A drumsticks.
Most of them are 16”, but you’ll find a few longer and shorter ones from different brands.
Some brands create shorter sticks that are designed for kids. These have the same weight as 7A sticks, but they just aren’t as long and overwhelming from a child’s perspective.
You’ll also find sticks with extended length to boost the reach. Many drummers love these, and you’ll find them in both 5A and 7A options. A good example is the Extreme Series from Vic Firth.
5A drumsticks are known as the all-purpose option. The beauty of them is that you can play a rock gig one night and then a softer indie gig the next, and your trusty 5A drumsticks will work well for both.
They give you a good balance of power, control, and sensitivity. This is the main reason why 5A drumsticks are the best for drummers to start out with.
7A drumsticks are more specialized, as they’re mainly for people who want a lighter and softer option.
They’re good for styles like jazz, where a dynamic feel is incredibly important. The lighter your touch is on the drums, the more 7A drumsticks will suit you.
However, they’re also good for speed. With the sticks being lighter, it’s easier to play faster patterns than it is with 5A sticks. They don’t offer a lot of power, but they offer plenty of finesse.
I’ve also found that 7A drumsticks are the best option for kids that learn to play the drums. 5A sticks often feel too heavy at that stage.
Durability is subjective with 5A and 7A drumsticks, as it depends on the drummer using them.
If you’re a light player, a pair of 7As will last just as long as a pair of 5As. If you’re a heavier drummer, a pair of 7As will break very quickly after you hit them hard.
I wouldn’t recommend choosing a size according to how durable you think they are. It all depends on how you use them.
With that being said, a 5A is a thicker stick, so you can assume that it will last a bit longer for the common drummer. If you know you like to play hard, stick with 5As over 7As.
With 5A drumsticks being the all-purpose option, they tend to be used a lot more commonly than 7A drumsticks.
However, 7A drumsticks come in a close second place in the popularity department. If someone doesn’t like the feel of a pair of 5As, experienced drummers will always recommend trying 7As as the next option.
The third place option would be 5Bs, which are slightly thicker and heavier than 5As.
Other Things to Know About 5A vs 7A Drumsticks
We’ve looked at the main differences between the two types of sticks, but there are still a few things that may differ depending on what specific models you get. Whether you get 5A or 7A sticks, these features will affect them in the same way.
Here’s what you should look out for:
The type of tips that drumsticks have affects their playability. The two main types are wood and nylon tips, but you also get a variety of different wood tip shapes.
Nylon tips produce harsher sounds when you hit the surfaces of cymbals. They’re also more durable, as a nylon tip doesn’t lose its shape after a while.
Wooden tips produce earthier cymbal sounds. They’re not as durable, but most drummers prefer using wood tips on their drumsticks. The natural feel is mostly preferred.
The main types of woods used to make drumsticks are hickory, oak, and maple.
The type of wood used affects the weight and feel of the sticks. Hickory is the most common one, and it provides a standard weight and balance.
Maple gives you a lighter stick, even if it haas the same diameter as a matching hickory stick. Maple 7A drumsticks are some of the lightest options available.
Oak is the densest wood of the three, so you get the heaviest drumsticks. A 7A pair of oak sticks may feel just as heavy as a 5A pair of maple sticks.
Signature drumsticks are sticks that were designed with the help of famous drummers that endorse particular companies. They’re made to suit the tastes of the drummer, so they always have unique features and dimensions.
When looking at signature drumsticks, you can pretty much ignore all the rules that defy what 7A and 5A drumsticks are.
A famous drummer could use a pair of 7A sticks as a base design, but they’ll then ask the company to change features that essentially stop that pair from performing as regular 7A sticks.
What are the Best Drumstick Brands?
The leading drumstick brands in the music industry are Promark, Vater, and Vic Firth. These three companies offer the most types of drumsticks, and they all have solid options in the 5A and 7A areas.
They also offer slightly altered 5A and 7A drumsticks, giving you plenty of options.
The great thing about getting drumsticks from these brands is that you can easily find their products in most music stores. They’re sold worldwide, and you’ll always be able to find your favorite pair.
Other Good Brands
A few lesser-known stick brands that I highly recommend are Meinl Stick & Brush, Zildjian, and Ahead.
Ahead drum sticks are highly unique in that most of them are made from aluminum. This makes them more durable, but they don’t feel great to everyone.
Meinl Stick & Brush is one of Meinl’s newest company additions, and there are some fantastic maple sticks in their product range.
Zildjian merged with Vic Firth a few years ago, and it drastically improved the quality of the different sticks that they offer.
Which is Better 5A or 7A Drumsticks?
To wrap things up with a brief summary, 5A drumsticks would be the better option for most drummers due to their versatility. You should get a pair of 7A sticks if you want to play softer styles like jazz or Latin.
It’s often good to have both types of sticks in your stick bag, allowing you to be prepare your drum kit setup for whatever gigs come your way.
Also, remember that the type of drum stick you need to use often comes down to personal preference. You then need to choose a tip shape and material that matches your preferences.