5As and 5Bs are two of your most common options when choosing drumsticks. They’re very similar in name but fairly different in how they feel when you use them.
Choosing a good pair of sticks is vital in feeling comfortable behind a drum kit, so it’s important to understand the differences between these stick types so that you know which one to choose.
Here’s a quick guide to understand the differences. We’ll also break down a few other aspects of drumstick choice and give alternate options to compare with 5A and 5B drumsticks.
- 1 5A Drumsticks
- 2 5B Drumsticks
- 3 Choosing Between 5A and 5B Drumsticks
- 4 Other Factors to Consider with 5A and 5B Drumsticks
- 5 Other Common Options
- 6 How Important is Good Drumstick Choice?
- 7 Best Drumstick Brands
- 8 Final Thoughts on 5A vs 5B Drumsticks
5A drumsticks are often seen as the “vanilla” option for drumming. These are drumsticks that all drummers will be comfortable with, no matter how long they’ve been playing for. They’re an amazing option for every musical style, and they’re commonly found in every music store.
A typical 5A drumstick will have a diameter of around 0.565” and a length of 16”. The length of the taper will depend on what drumstick brand the stick is from, but the thickness and length are fairly standard.
If you play multiple ranges of musical styles, 5As are always an amazing option.
5B drumsticks are slightly larger than 5A sticks. They usually have a thickness of around 0.595”, making them feel bulkier in your hands. They’re also 16” in length, so they feel heavier than 5A drumsticks due to the thickness being distributed through the same length.
They’re not as popular as 5A drumsticks, mostly due to their weight making them feel a bit harder to use at first. However, they give you a lot more power than 5A sticks do. You’ll be able to get louder notes with slightly less effort from your arm movements.
You get a bit of a speed reduction, but it’s nothing drastic. There are thicker sticks out there that will make you feel much more of a difference when it comes to speed ability.
Choosing Between 5A and 5B Drumsticks
The most common way of differentiating the two is that 5As can be used for everything, whereas 5B sticks are generally used for rock and metal music.
However, those aren’t rules set in stone, and any drummer can use whatever stick size they’re most comfortable with for everything they play.
If you want heavier sticks to add a bit more power behind your playing, you should go with 5Bs. If you want light sticks that still offer plenty of force, 5As are a better pick.
If you’re a heavy player, you also may last longer with 5Bs before they break as opposed to 5As.
Other Factors to Consider with 5A and 5B Drumsticks
Whether you’re getting 5A or 5B drumsticks, the type of wood they’re made from will play a big role in how they feel. The three most commonly used woods are maple, hickory, and oak.
Hickory is the most frequently used wood for drumsticks. It’s highly durable, and hickory sticks always feel great in your hands.
Maple sticks are slightly lighter than hickory sticks, so a pair of hickory 5As will almost be as heavy as a pair of maple 5Bs. Maple sticks are better for drummers with a lighter touch.
Oak is the least common wood out of the three. It’s the most durable, but not every drummer likes how oak sticks feel. They don’t absorb vibrations as well as the other two woods, causing them to feel quite stiff.
The types of tips the sticks have is another aspect that will differentiate different pairs of 5As and 5Bs from each other. The main choice will be between nylon and wood tips, but then you get several different shapes of wood tipsthat determine how the sticks feel when striking the drums and cymbals.
This is where you’re spoiled for choice, as you can choose between multiple different versions of 5A drumsticks. The same can be said for 5B drumsticks.
If you’re wondering what the difference is between wood and nylon, nylon tips sound brighter on cymbals, and the tips are usually more durable than wooden ones.
Most drummers use wooden tips, though, as the earthy sound is a bit more natural.
Other Common Options
7A drumsticks are some of the lightest options available. These sticks are great for jazz drummers or children who are just starting out. The lighter weight makes them a lot easier to use at first. They also make it easier to play quick notes around the drums and cymbals.
However, they’re more likely to break if you hit very hard, so you shouldn’t use them if you’re someone who likes to play with a lot of force and energy.
2B drumsticks fall on the other end of the spectrum. They’re some of the thickest and heaviest drumsticks that you can get. These are arguably the least popular types of sticks, but there are plenty of rock and metal drummers that use them.
While they make it a bit harder to achieve speed, they provide a lot of power and force, and they’re incredibly durable.
Many drummers like to practice with 2B sticks on practice pads and then use 5As or 5Bs when they’re performing. It’s kind of like resistance training to help you get faster.
Signature models are sticks that are designed with input from famous drummers. Companies design these sticks to fit their preferences, and this typically ends up in sticks that have a combination of features from various size types.
For example, Matt Halpern has a pair of signature sticks from Promark that are sized like 2Bs, but they feel like 5Bs when you play with them.
It’s always a good idea to try signature sticks to see if you prefer them over the standard size options.
How Important is Good Drumstick Choice?
Your drumsticks should always feel like an extension of your arms, and some sticks will make it feel that way more than others.
However, most drummers get used to how a certain type of stick feels after playing with them for a while. You’ll just feel a massive difference if you switch from a light stick to a very heavy one.
When it comes to 5As and 5Bs, the difference isn’t too drastic. It’s more about stick durability than anything. If you find that you’re breaking your 5A drumsticks very often, it may make a world of difference when switching to using 5Bs.
Best Drumstick Brands
The best drumstick brands on the market are Vic Firth, Promark, Vater, Meinl Stick & Brush, Zildjian, and Ahead.
Those are always the safest brands to go with, and all of them have fantastic 5A and 5B options. You’ll find cheaper options from lesser-known brands, but we’d suggest staying away from those as a lot of them break a lot quicker than the sticks from major brands.
Final Thoughts on 5A vs 5B Drumsticks
If you’re new to drumming, we’d suggest starting with 5A drumsticks first. They have a wider range of musical applications for most drummers, and their lighter weight will make drumming feel a bit easier at first.
If you find that you want something a bit heavier, the next best step is to try 5B drumsticks. They’re more durable a lot of the time, and they’re the preferred choice for a lot of drummers that play heavier music.
7As and 2Bs are your other choices, but those sit on the extreme sides of being light and heavy.