Promark ActiveGrip Forward 5A Drumsticks
by Michael Dawson
Coated for a touch of tackiness as the intensity level increases.
Promark experimented with its ActiveGrip coating on Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche’s signature Active Wave 570 stick, which was released in the summer of 2015. This year the company is expanding the ActiveGrip coating—to be offered in black—to some of its most popular models, including signature sticks for endorsing artists Rich Redmond and Mike Portnoy. We were sent a pair of Forward 5As with the ActiveGrip to review.
The ActiveGrip coating, which covers the entire stick except the tip, is formulated to provide an increased amount of tackiness as it heats up. The stick gets easier to hold as you play and sweat. Unlike some other coated sticks, the ActiveGrip is barely noticeable, and it’s applied thinly enough to not increase the diameter or affect rebound. The coating also doesn’t mark up drumheads and cymbals like the paint on some other colored sticks does.
I used these sticks for about six hours of studio sessions, and the ActiveGrip coating held up very well. The shoulder, where the stick hits the edge of the hi-hats and crashes, eventually began to chip away to reveal the raw hickory underneath, but the coating on the rimshot area, which was heavily dented from dozens of backbeats, remained intact. The grip got a bit tackier as my hands heated up but never to the point of being distracting. My hands tend to sweat a lot, so the ActiveGrip helped me keep hold of the sticks without having to squeeze harder.
The other difference with the ActiveGrip 5A sticks is the tip shape, which is a traditional acorn rather than Promark’s classic oval. This tip elicits a broader cymbal sound with more overtones when held at a flatter angle to the bow, while a steeper angle allows for a slightly softer attack and a more focused, pure sound. Rimclicks and rimshots sound essentially identical between the ActiveGrip 5A and a regular 5A. Check them out!