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Remember that Paul Leim video I posted a month ago? Here’s a few more vids in that same series from studio master Dan Needham. Anyone wanting to be a studio drummer needs to prioritize watching these 5 videos…

God bless Youtube and Vic Firth for making GOLD information like this available for anyone to learn, and God bless Dan Needham for being such a juggernaut player.

A helpful chart¬†for figuring out the specs and details behind your favorite stick…

Vic Firth is where it’s at for me, but all stick companies use these dimensions.

My wife sent me this photo just now. I’m currently in Japan but I guess a box of these arrived at our house yesterday. You can’t actually buy them in a store or anything. Vic Firth gives all endorsed artists the option to have their signature screen-printed on the stick of their choice for all future orders. So these are just Extreme 5A’s with my John Hancock on them.

But still. Kinda surreal.

X5A’s at an impromptu photo shoot during soundcheck

In my previous post about my current touring rig I mentioned that I was thinking about making an official switch on the sticks I use for rock/pop stuff. I’ve been playing drums for 20+ years now and I’ve always used the Dave Weckl Signature model Vic Firth sticks. I recently signed on with Vic as an official endorser, and through some conversations with my rep I decided to check out the X5A’s (Extreme 5A).

Weckl’s are the exact diameter of standard 5A sticks but with an additional quarter inch of length (16.25″ instead of a flat 16″). That extra length translates to extra torque, which I dig. Like I said, I’ve stuck with the Weckl’s for my whole career in high power playing situations, mainly because of the extra torque. Well, it turns out the X5A’s are an additional¬†quarter inch longer than even the Weckl’s, but with that same 5A diameter. Even better, the sticks aren’t that crimson/brown color. Now, I’ve always kinda liked that the sticks I use are a different color than normal hickory, but playing with the left hand butt-side leaves red marks all over my heads, and I’m ready to do away with that.

The only other minor difference between Weckl’s and X5A’s is the tip shape. Weckl’s have a barrel tip, while X5A’s have a standard tear drop. This affects rebound slightly but cymbal tone heavily. That is to say, stick tip design affects cymbal tone, but the difference between a barrel and a tear drop isn’t very significant. If it were a barrel vs a mini tear drop, or a tear drop vs a BB, that would make more of a difference. Coincidentally, that’s one reason (among many) that I use the SD2 Bolero’s for jazz… because of the BB tip design and the tone I get from that on cymbals.

So, all that to say, no more Weckls. I’m playing X5A’s from here on out.

I’ve never cared much about the mallets I use. Until now.

The Vic Firth CT1 Generals are my new mallet of choice, and it will take a LOT for them to get dethroned. First off, they are roughly the same diameter as the Vic Firth Weckls, which have been my rock sticks for decades. Secondly, the shaft doesn’t taper at all, so the mallets have a super dense and powerful feel, as opposed the the flimsy vibe that most keyboard/timpani mallets have.

But the real kicker is that these things sound GREAT when used in a cross-stick/sidestick (see photo below). I suppose that has something to do with the no-taper, or maybe it’s the extra weight/torque from the mallet tip, but I really don’t care about the reason. All I know is that these things actually sound BETTER than my normal Weckls when used for cross-stick. Lately I’ve been holding the mallet in my left hand for entire tunes, doing cross-sticks and cymbal swells with ease. Then when the song grows in intensity I can flip the mallet backwards and have the same feel as a reversed Weckl (butt-side).

These things are even roughly the same color as Weckls, although some of the recent ones I’ve seen are such a dark red that they look black.

Try the CT1’s. You will not be disappointed.

Hint: Make sure to put the rim of the drum closer to the mallet tip than you might think for the best cross-stick tone (again, see photo).

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