Specialty finishes and a tacky applique to enhance grip for sweaty or dry hands.
For many drummers, Vic Firth’s traditional matte finish is a perfect middle point between the thicker, glossier coating found on old-school-style drumsticks and the coarser texture of those featuring raw-hickory grips. For extreme enhancement, the company introduced the antislip Vic Grip for a number of its most popular models. But for players who don’t want to stray that far from a traditional drumstick feel yet need a little extra help keeping hold of the sticks, Firth created the PureGrit and DoubleGlaze 5A and 5B models, as well as a specially formulated Stick Wax that can be applied to any stick for extra tackiness. Let’s check them out.
Currently available in popular American Classic 5A (.565“x16“) and 5B (.595“x16“) sizes, PureGrit models are lacquer free and have been put through an abrasive processing that gives the raw wood a bit of grittiness and texture. These are meant for players with sweaty hands, and the perspiration and oil from the skin get absorbed into the wood, which softens the grittiness over time. I tend to get sweaty hands as I play, and while the regular Vic Firth finish has been fine for me in most situations, the PureGrit provided a nice, subtle alternative that grabbed my skin just enough to allow me to loosen my grip a bit without fear of the sticks flying across the stage as things started to heat up. Conversely, the PureGrit grip wasn’t as abrasive as some other raw-finish options out there that have at times chewed away at the skin on my thumb and index finger when used for prolonged periods of time. If you’re a standard 5A or 5B player and would like to have an alternative for especially sweaty situations (outdoor festivals, cramped clubs with hot stage lights, etc.), you might want to drop a pair of these in your stick bag. You probably won’t notice a huge difference, other than fewer dropped sticks and mid-gig blisters. List price is $16.25 per pair.
For drummers who want more lacquer on their sticks, Vic Firth created DoubleGlaze 5A and 5B models. These are meant for players with dry hands who enjoy the tackier feel of a thicker polish. The DoubleGlaze finish also adds a bit of mass, so these sticks feel a little heftier than the unfinished PureGrit version or models with the standard American Classic coating.
For my sweat-prone hands, the DoubleGlaze finish made the sticks a bit too slippery to maintain a comfortable and relaxed grip on live gigs. But when I used them in the climate- and humidity-controlled environment of the recording studio, I was able to experience the enhanced tackiness that the DoubleGlaze provides as it starts to heat up in the hand. The thicker finish also seemed to make the sticks more resistant to chipping and fraying from rimshots and cymbal swipes, translating into fewer dust particles on my studio floor. I can dig that. List price is $16.25 per pair.
Now, if you inadvertently bring sticks with the wrong finish to the gig and need to mitigate grip-slip issues quickly, there’s VicWax, which is a little blob of red wax that’s specially formulated to be rubbed onto the drumstick to provide a tacky grip without excessive stickiness. While it’s designed to stay mostly on the stick and not on your hands, VicWax is berry scented so there’s none of the chemical odor that’s sometimes associated with other stick grip sprays and appliques.
I tried the VicWax on PureGrit and DoubleGlaze sticks, as well as some regular-finish 3As, and it did its job well on all three. I found that the tackiness of the wax was most noticeable on the DoubleGlaze and was subtler on the raw PureGrit and standard sticks. Yet in neither case was the wax so sticky as to be distracting or disruptive to maintaining my normal relaxed grip. While there was a little bit of residual wax on my hands afterwards, it dissipated after a few minutes; alternatively, you can wash it off easily. While I don’t typically struggle to maintain a solid grip of the sticks, it’ll be nice to have this little 2″x1” container of VicWax on hand, especially when we transition into hot, sweaty summer festival season. List price is $9. Available from your local retailer and Amazon.