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Thomann's Cool Online Guides: Drumsticks

5. The shape of the head

The shape of the head is the key factor determining the stick sound on the drumheads - and even more so on the cymbals.

Heads

  • drop - rich dark tones with emphasis depths
  • barrel - good punch, good presence. Well suited for louder situations
  • ball - clear, well defined Ping
  • acorn - full, fat sound. Very playable
  • oval - broad midrange, similar to drop

All these shapes come under 3 geometrical main groups: Round, oval, triangle shape. The smaller the point of contact between instrument and head , the higher the produced frequency. The same applies to the density. The harder the material , the more “ping”. This is particularly true for nylon heads. Not only are they extremely durable but also deliver a clear, well defined sound on the cymbals. For many styles however this can be almost too cold a tone.

And this is how it works in detail:

The triangular head

Here we have a very small point of contact. It produces high frequencies and a clear, well defined sound. Since the whole strength is concentrated on one point, the wear is quite high. This can be counteracted by use of harder wood, nylon or carbon.

If you change the angle of play, you thereby get greater contact. The sound becomes broader and softer.

The round head

The round headed stick always has the same area of contact, independent of the playing angle. The sound is always clearly defined.

The oval head

The oval head has a higher contact area than the round, but less than the triangular in a flat playing angle. The sound is warmer than round and triangular, however better defined than the triangular head in the flat angle.

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