Vater has long been a heavy hitter in the drumstick business, offering a wide range of products for everyone from classical percussionists to world-touring rock drummers. Artists such as Mike Mangini (Dream Theater), Max Weinberg (Bruce Springsteen), Mike Johnston (MikesLessons.com), and Frank Ferrer (Guns N’ Roses) all rely on Vater products. Whether you’re an endorser or not, though, making each stick last as long as possible can mean saving some serious cash over the long run.
Most stick companies have made attempts to address durability, often at the expense of the natural feel of a traditional wood stick. Vater is now offering a solution designed to maintain that feel—the Extended Play series.
There are two key features that increase the durability of Extended Play drumsticks. The first feature is a pearl-colored, specially formulated finish on the top half of the drumstick that’s designed to slow chipping and cracking. The second is a 3″ section of blended material, called the Stick Shield, that’s wrapped around the rimshot area of the stick and is said to be eight times stronger than steel. Vater is so confident in its Stick Shield technology that it offers a guarantee against breakage in the area protected by the Stick Shield. (More information about the guarantee can be found at vater.com.) The Extended Play series is available in 5A, 5B, Power 5A, Power 5B, and 3A sizes, with wood or nylon tips. The Extended Play series is also available in two marching models: the MV7 and MV8. All Extended Play models cost around $13. The patented Stick Shield feature is also available as a separate accessory product, so you can add it to any drumstick model and brand of your choice.
We had the opportunity to test the Extended Play series for several weeks in rehearsals with a fusion band and a heavier rock group, as well as during regular practice sessions. Although we were sent multiple pairs in each size, I ended up using just one pair the entire time because neither the tip, the shoulder, nor the shaft became damaged enough to justify moving to a different pair. For reference, a pair of traditional wood sticks usually lasts me one week of practice, one practice session with my heavy rock band, or a few practices with the fusion project.
After a couple weeks of playing, the tip and shoulder areas of the Extended Plays were the first to show signs of wear. But the damage was subtle and certainly not enough for me to justify tossing the sticks in the trash. After about three weeks, I started to see some slight splintering around the Stick Shield rimshot area. Even with my heavier playing style, the lifespan of the Extended Play sticks was double that of traditional sticks, while maintaining the familiar feel of regular models. If you typically have to toss sticks prematurely because of shattered wood around the rimshot area, the Extended Play series would be a great alternative rather than going to a fully synthetic stick.