While drumsticks come in a myriad of types, they all hail from a common ancestor: simple beaters that were used centuries ago. Drumsticks are used to beat the heads of drums and have long been played for cultural, ritual and entertainment purposes. While their exact beginnings cannot be pinpointed, definite landmarks have been identified along the history of drumsticks.
Modern drumsticks date back to the use of percussion instruments that were used to provide rhythm to musical performances during the Middle Ages. Drumsticks made their first noted appearance in the 7th century in Asia.
Basic drumstick types include simple wooden sticks, mallets and brushes. As drumsticks entered the 20th century, their types and features continued to broaden.
The basic features of a drumstick haven't changed for centuries. They include the tip, shoulder (below the tip), shaft and butt (bottom of the stick).
Until the late 1950s, drumsticks were primarily made of wood and wore out quickly. In 1958, drummer and woodworker Joe Calato invented a new drumstick with a nylon tip. The innovation proved more long-lasting than traditional drumsticks and led to a sea of change in drumstick manufacturing.
Innovations in the manufacture of drumsticks have made it possible for just about anyone to find the perfect pair for any occasion. Recent advances include ergonomic sticks, glow-in-the-dark sticks, graphite sticks and aluminum sticks.
Lee Simmons has 10 years of reporting experience covering a variety of issues for publications in South Carolina, California, and Texas. He also covered music industry issues for Soundcheck magazine and Bizmology.com, among others. Simmons earned a journalism degree from the University of Texas. He lives in Austin.