Since first launching as an independent brand twenty-five years ago, Vater has grown into one of the world’s leading drumstick manufacturers, in part due to its partnership with key high-profile artists, but also because of its smart strategy to focus on developing a catalog full of unique but practical products. Some of Vater’s latest additions include signature sticks for Deftones’ Abe Cunningham, versatile Canadian performer/educator Anthony Michelli, and Dream Theater’s Mike Mangini, as well as new acorn-tip versions of the popular 5A, Power 5A, and Power 5B models.
Mangini, Michelli, and Cunningham Player’s Designs
Dream Theater drummer Mike Mangini’s Wicked Piston is one of the more unusually shaped drumsticks we’ve seen. Made of American hickory, the WP starts with a 580″ 5A-style grip and then increases to .620″ towards the upper third before tapering down to a large acorn tip. The extra width at the top adds weight and gives the stick a lot of front-leaning throw. The stick also measures 16.75″, which is significantly longer than a typical 16″ 5A or 5B. You can utilize the additional length to manipulate how front-heavy the stick feels by shifting your fulcrum point up or down the grip. The thicker section also produces denser, fatter rimshots and cymbal crashes when you strike with the shoulder. I found that the Wicked Piston had fairly comfortable rebound when I held the sticks with about 2″ of wood extending from the bottom of my hands. Positioning my fulcrum further back minimized rebound but gave the sticks a lot of propulsion and power. The large tip also produced loud, full tones from drums and cymbals.
Anthony Michelli’s AM 595 drumstick is .595″ wide and 16″ long, which is only .010″ thinner than Vater’s regular 5B. The tip is acorn-shaped, and the shoulder has a gradual taper to promote maximum rebound and balance. Michelli is a versatile drummer who plays gigs that require many different styles and dynamics, and his stick is designed to excel in every situation, from jazz to hard-hitting pop or fusion. The acorn tip produced full, rich sounds from drums and cymbals, and the shoulder taper was beefy enough to withstand rimshots while still providing perfect rebound. The AM 595 would be the ideal choice for drummers looking for something that’s a step up from a 5A but not quite as hefty as a 5B. This was my personal favorite of the bunch.
For drummers looking to bridge the size gap between a 5B and a 2B, Vater developed the Cool Breeze with modern rock great Abe Cunningham of Deftones. This stick is .600″ in diameter and 16.625″ long. Although this is an extra-long stick, it didn’t feel oversized. In fact, it had a great combination of forward-leaning throw and nimble rebound. If you play anything like Cunningham, whose style features a lot of intricate flourishes as well as aggressive backbeats and fills, then you’ll find everything you need in this stick. It has the perfect balance of power and grace.
5A, Power 5A, and Power 5B Acorn
Vater also added acorn tips to three of its popular 5A, Power 5A, and Power 5B models. The 5A Acorn has the same weight and dimensions as the company’s popular Los Angeles 5A (.570″x16″), but the smaller, shorter tip offers a slightly fuller and more articulate tone. This is a definite go-to for a variety of gigs that require clean cymbal sounds, dynamic control, and quick response.
The Power 5A Acorn is fairly close in size to Cunningham’s Cool Breeze. It measures .580″x16.5″ and has a large tip. This stick plays and feels like a big stick, even though it’s technically within the 5A range. Go for this model if you want power and extended reach but need a fairly thin grip.
The Power 5B Acorn is a large stick, measuring .610″x16.5″, but it doesn’t feel cumbersome. I had to choke up a bit higher than normal to find the optimal balance point for my fulcrum, but there was still plenty of length to reach crashes and instruments placed at the far sides of the kit. The acorn tip produced big, broad tones, and the hefty shoulder held up well after multiple hours of heavy rimshots. These are big, beefy sticks that were a perfect match for throwing down bombastic beats on an oversized setup.
All of these new models, which are made of high-quality white hickory, were perfectly straight and pitch-balanced, and they had a smooth but not overly lacquered finish that allowed me to maintain a comfortable, relaxed grip regardless of whether I was playing in a cool, dry studio or in a humid, sweaty club.