John “JR” Robinson and Brooks Wackerman Signature Models

Extra-long options designed for more reach and power without sacrificing balance or tone.

Innovative PercussionInnovative Percussion is a Nashville-based manufacturer that first made its mark by crafting high-quality drumsticks and mallets for concert and marching percussion. In recent years the company began focusing on the drumset market, most notably by teaming up with some of the most respected players and educators in the world to design unique yet versatile signature models. Two of IP’s latest signature designs are for legendary session drummer John “JR” Robinson (Rufus, Michael Jackson, Steve Winwood) and punk/metal great Brooks Wackerman (Avenged Sevenfold). These sticks are extra-long but boast unique tapers and tips to maintain even balance and quick response.

John “JR” Robinson JR-1 Drumsticks

JR Robinson is a big man known for producing a big, powerful groove, so it’s no surprise that his signature model drumstick is a hefty piece of hickory. It’s .570x17, which is just a bit wider than a standard 5A but a full inch longer. IP counteracts the front-heavy throw that would be typically characteristic of such a lengthy stick by employing a quicker and steeper taper. This increases the rebound of the JR-1 to give it a lighter-than expected feel without sacrificing power. The taper flares back out a bit below the oval tip to increase durability.

Even with the extra length, we felt that the JR-1 was a perfectly balanced stick that produced bold yet clean drum and cymbal tones while also allowing for a lot of speed and dexterity. I was able to choke up on the grip for lighter dynamics without sacrificing balance, but then I could shift my fulcrum further back towards the butt end when I wanted to capitalize on the extra momentum provided by the additional reach. It’s a tall order to try to deliver maximum power, mobility, and reach in a single drumstick, but the JR-1 succeeds on all fronts.

John “JR” Robinson BR-JR1 Brushes and BR-JR2 Martini Brushes

In addition to the JR-1 drumstick, Innovative Percussion also worked with Robinson to design a pair of unique brushes: the BR-JR1 with telescoping wires and the BR-JR2 with nonretractable plastic bristles. The BR-JR1 comes with standard medium-gauge wires and a rubber handle that’s 2.5longer than the handle found on a traditional jazz-style brush. This extra length gave the BR-JR1 a more stick-like feel while still providing the sensitive, rich swish and tap sounds of a standard wire brush. The BR-JR1 also comes with a felt ball on the butt end that can be used for smooth mallet-like swells. And there’s a nylon tip attached to the end of the pull rod for passages requiring cleaner drum and cymbal articulations. If regular brushes feel a bit too short and light for your playing style, the BRJR1 is for you.

The BR-JR2 Martini brush is a nonretractable model that measures 16and features an extended rubber handle (.5longer than the BR-JR1’s handle) and red heavy plastic bristles. Although it’s longer than the BR-JR1, the BR-JR2 feels lighter and plays quicker, while producing a brighter and more articulate sound from drums and cymbals. While I wouldn’t go to these brushes when playing delicate jazz ballads, they were an excellent choice for train beats and more percussive textures that blend the wider smack of brushes and the sharper, stronger attack of multirods.

Brooks Wackerman A7X

A recent signing for Innovative Percussion, punk/ rock great Brooks Wackerman set out to design a drumstick that would fulfill the intense speed and power demands of his current gig with Southern California–based metal band Avenged Sevenfold. This stick, dubbed the A7X, measures .626x16.5, which is a touch thinner than a 2B at the grip but .5longer. In addition, the shoulder expands slightly to .630to reinforce the rimshot impact point before gradually tapering to a big barrel tip. While designed primarily for power and durability, the A7X felt much lighter than expected and was incredibly nimble. I had no problem executing double strokes and single-stroke rolls around the kit with the same clarity and quickness as I could with a standard 5A or 5B, and I experienced no premature hand fatigue after extended use. If you’re looking for an ideal drumstick for rock, the A7X gets my vote.