Greetings my friends,
T here again. Today's blog is going to bring up an issue I have always felt should be implemented in the percussion world. Namely uniform standards for Drum sticks and Cymbals. There's a bewildering array of choices in both categories. It's sometimes difficult to compare products because there's no standards or uniformity any company must conform to. You can essentially produce a drum stick and call it anything you want.
Sticks, There are a few major players in the stick scene and many many smaller ones. Now I have no idea how stick identification or categorization started or what it was based on. But I do know it can be a bit confusing for even a seasoned player, a newbie has got to be overwhelmed and bewildered by his choices. He also must be thinking to himself ( as I once did ) who the hell decided on what to call the different size sticks. let's take a theoretical newbie looking at sticks the 5a's are to heavy or fat or whatever, It's just the opposite for the 7a's. To skinny or light for him/her to use. Now logic would dictate that the 6a's would probably be the perfect size, good luck trying to find them. How come there's no 6a's ? If there is I've never seen them.
The way sticks are sized and marked is just stupid. The lower the number and letter the heavier and fatter they are a 2B is gigantic compared to a 7A, I will be honest and tell you I haven't the slightest clue on how companies arrive at the designations they do. But they indeed do, a simplified and uniformly codified system needs to replace the half assed system that's in place now. If the 7a is the next size up or down from a 5a there's room for improvement. Now if that isn't bad enough once you start to move past the sticks that are designated by numbers and letters you start getting into named sticks. Rock, Extreme Rock, pro rock it just goes on and on. Then you have the Hybrid sticks with names and number/letter designations. Los Angeles 2B's, I ask you what is the difference between that and a regular 2b ?
This type of helter skelter designations hurts the consumer because it becomes very difficult, and at times near impossible to compare different brands of sticks when calculating cost. I use to have a Drum instructor who purchased sticks once a year. That's the way he did it and it becomes even more imperative when purchasing a large number of sticks that you be able to accurately compare pricing on sticks. This is where the codification comes into play. You must be able to compare apples to apples to get an accurate idea of which brand is priced better or lower.
Now I'm not suggesting imposing Nazi-like rigorous standards. I'm not saying the Consumer affairs division of your states government send out the weights and measurements teams to weigh and measure drumsticks, like they do when they pull a surprise inspection on gas stations or the deli counter at your local supermarket. However I do feel some basic guidelines should be adopted by manufactures of drum sticks and guidelines that follow some sort of linear alphabetic or numerical pattern that is obvious and functional. Today drum stick manufacturing is for the most part done on computerized machines, How hard could it be for the various companies to all calibrate there machines to fit the same standards for the same style sticks ? It wouldn't be all that difficult and like I mentioned earlier lets ditch the stupid stick ID standards we currently use for something more user friendly so we won't have a situation like we currently do. Going from a 5a to a 7a where's the 6a I ask you again !!
Moving on to Cymbals, you know when I first started playing drums nobody seemed to care what a Cymbal weighed or if they did it wasn't nearly as prominent as it is today. This is going back 30 years keep that in mind. Somewhere along the way the weights of a Cymbal became important to alot of Drummers. I don't think this is a bad thing at all, and like most aspects of Drumming it's a personal choice. personally it's not that big an issue for me with the exception of the high hats. There I think the weight differential is fairly important other than that just the designation of the Cymbals weight is OK for me. A few years back I wanted to add a 15" or 16" med/Hvy crash to my set up, not having one in that size Cymbals. Mine were all medium to light sizes and I desired something with a little more meat to it. While checking out various brands of Med/Hvy 16" I couldn't help notice the weight difference from brand to brand. What company X called Med/Hvy was Hvy with company Z. Pretty dam close in weight but with different designations I began to think this makes choosing a Pie even harder than it already is. For pricing purposes it could easily lead to a bigger disparity between brands than it had to be.
A simple solution is setting up guidelines along the same lines as my drum stick suggestion. First come up with weight name designations. Paper thin, Thin, medium, Med/Hvy and Hvy Then set parameters on where those Cymbals should fall weight wise. Now of course there's alot of factors that need to be considered. A automated sheet stamped Cymbal's weight is more easily controlled than a hand made Cymbal so an issue like that needs to be addressed. That is easily accomplished by giving each weight designation a certain parameter to fall within. let's use made up numbers for the sake of ease of understanding. For a paper thin 15" crash lets use 400grams to 450grams if it comes in Higher than 450g than it would automatically be designated in the next weight class. For the consumer this would allow for a better comparison in pricing Cymbals. If you know whatever brand of cymbals your comparing and they are the same size ( Diameter ) and have the same weight designation ( Thin ) you know they are all going to weight within a specified parameter, then pricing becomes easier to understand. Now the difference in pricing falls with quality, workmanship and other factors. With what we have now,there's no telling what the difference is in weight for the same designation cymbals from brand to brand. A medium ride can vary hundreds of grams from brand to brand which absolutely will effect it's price. Thus skewing your perception of the brand that is more costly or conversely the cheaper one.
I just think a little more uniformity in the stick and Cymbal scene would benefit the consumer in the long run. If two medium rides essentially weigh close to the same are the same diameter ( 22" ) and both are made from the same alloy, let's say B20 ( what else ? ) Now a companies ride that is $125.00 more than it's competitors needs to justify why this is so. I think the consumer is the big winner here, making Cymbal companies be more competitive for your dollars. Perhaps lowering their prices to be more competitive or making higher quality Cymbals to compete with their competition. I don't know for sure if any of this would happen, and what I'm suggesting is just the seed or the zygote of an idea. I'm open for any and all suggestions, My intention is just to open up a debate on the merits of this idea and anything I have suggested in this blog can and should be scrutinized, added to or deleted and replaced with something better. Nothing written hear is in stone. The whole concept of some sort of standardization is fluid add to it or detract from it, this is how things change and develop. I personally think some type of standardization would be a good thing in these two particular areas. What the end result would be is any ones guess, So now a little feedback from the readers of this article I'd love to hear what my brother and Sister drummers feel about this. Till next time.............T