My first contact with Promark was in 1997. I was watching a Modern Drummer Festival that featured then Pat Metheny drummer Paul Wertico (Google Paul Wertico Modern Drummer Festival 1997). The guy played with fire and creativity and bought tones out of the kit I’d never heard. The highlight for me was when he covered his kit in a bed sheet and started hitting it with these red plastic tubes. I had to have a pair, whatever they were. After some research, I found and ordered my first pair of Promark Tubz. I still have them. In 2011, D’Addario purchased Promark, and they have continued the tradition of innovation that Herb started back in 1957. Promark have the tightest weight and pitch tolerance in the industry. They also pride themselves on being on the forefront of sustainability by planting five trees for every one they cut down. Keeping with their innovative past, Promark released the Select Balance Range in 2015. This simple, but ground- breaking concept has changed the drum stick game!
BREAKING IT DOWN
Promark set out to break down the anatomy of a drumstick. They wanted to change the function without changing the fit. The Select Balance concept utilises two variations in taper that influence the balance point of your stick. The forward balance (2 1/4” taper) was designed to be front heavy and create a feeling of more sound less work. The Rebound Balance (3” taper) was designed to be back heavy for quicker and easier playing, perfect for low volumes and increased touch.
This concept was applied to five of the industry’s most popular stick sizes. Here’s the Promark sizing with the industry standard equivalents: the 535 or 7A, the 550 or 5A, the 565 or 5A, the 580 or 5A and the 595 or 5B. Each of these sizes is available in Forward Balance (FB) and Rebound Balance (RB). The sticks are all 16” in length at this stage are available in a tear drop wood tip. So a 5A player who would like to try the Forward Balance stick would look for the FBH550TW (Forward Balance Hickory 550 Teardrop Woodtip).
I was lucky enough to try the models listed above. I settled on the 550 as the stick for me and took the FB and the RB into my practice room. I warmed up with the FB and was impressed by how effortless everything felt. The sticks moved and felt like they wanted to hit the drums. The sound was full and I was able to play with power and speed into my snare and around the drums. The sticks also felt straight and nice in my hands.
I moved across to the RB for some stick control and jazz independence practice. I was worried that the sticks would be clunky and loud. Straight away I noticed that the sticks seemed to want to stay low. The sticks helped me to clearly articulate quick and complex sticking patterns. My ghost notes were consistent, and the sticks seem to gravitate or balance just where I wanted them. Impressive.
Now to the gig: Friday night, three sets, jazz, latin and funk with dynamic and thoughtful musicians. I would usually take a set of 7As and a set of 5As to cover this gig. And per usual I’d spend the first three songs of set two trying to adjust to the change in stick. Not this time. I cruised through the gig with two pairs of sticks, the RBH550TW and the FBH550TW. They were the same weight and diameter, just with a different taper. I felt like when the dynamics changed and my approach changed, the sticks came with me. I was able to execute complex, low-level dynamic playing and effortless full sounding back beats. I did this without changing the weight and diameter of my stick. Problem solved. Promark have hit the nail on the head with Select Balance; a well-balanced line of sticks that are intuitive and great to play. They solve a problem many professional players face, and they have simplified the stick game.
For more details on Pro Mark products, head to daddario.com.au.
Hits and Misses
Difference in taper works
No Nylon tips or Hickory tip variation
Stick coding can be a little confusing