One of the things I like best about Zildjian is that the company allows its artists to express themselves to whatever degree they feel necessary, whether it be with a cymbal, a stick bag, or one of many signature stick models. I wouldn’t necessarily have guessed, for instance, that Antonio Sanchez is the kind of guy who would place a devil’s tail and horns on his signature, but there they are.
On the more gratuitous side is the recently modified stick designed by No Doubt’s often publicly nude drummer, Adrian Young. Young’s stick boasts some serious “bling.” While half the stick is painted white, the grip end is coated in black plastic, topped by a black nylon tip and a shiny, checkered signature. Taking the testosterone level down a notch, Zildjian also included its two newest maple models, the Mini Ball and the Acorn Tip.
Pat Metheny recently made the statement that Antonio Sanchez was the drummer he thought would never be born. Coming from a guitarist who has played with some of the greatest timekeepers who’ve ever lived, I was curious what his newest drummer would be looking for in a stick.
For starters, Sanchez apparently prefers his sticks a bit longer. But since they’re thinner in diameter (somewhere around a 7A) and made of hickory, they’re extremely well balanced for their length. Recalling a high concentration of bell-less ride on Metheny’s debut with Sanchez, The Way Up, I wasn’t too surprised to find Sanchez opted for a barrel tip that resembles an upside-down teacup, which produced a meatier, squarer tone from my snare drum and cymbals.
As I worked through my Alan Dawson exercises at a very low level, the sticks drew a bold tone from my Zildjian A Customs, and a nice square note from my 5.5" free-floating snare. The extra length on the sticks was convenient too. I started working through some Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez exercises from a DRUM! Media Roundup in last month’s issue, and decided to play clave with the shaft of the stick on the side of my floor tom. The sticks made solid contact with the 6-ply maple shells, and produced a nice sturdy click. All told, the sticks felt great.
I have to be honest here, when Zilidjan wrote us and said that Adrian Young’s redesigned stick had a new “proprietary finish,” I was pretty excited to check it out. What I didn’t anticipate was that the “proprietary finish” would end up all over my Zildjian A Custom cymbals, which I’ve had for more than a decade. I’ll admit that I’m a pretty hard hitter when I play rock, but I have to imagine that most of the people buying Adrian Young’s signature model would be more inclined to lay into their drums as well. It’s been about a month and a half since I first played with these sticks, and that white paint is still tattooed onto my dear A Customs.
With that said, I thoroughly enjoyed the hour I spent playing with the sticks. I recently rediscovered how much I liked nylon-tip sticks, and Young’s signature model includes a cool-looking rounded black nylon tip. The grip end is covered in an interesting plastic composite that felt great to tighten my fingers around. Made of hickory, the sticks are very durable. In fact, as the white paint chipped off the tip end of the stick, their artistic finish entered the avant-garde realm, as it melded into a beautiful collage of black plastic, white paint, and wood. So if you don’t mind white paint smeared all over your gear, I’d say pick yourself up a pair.
I can’t say enough nice things about Zildjian’s two new maple models. Similar in diameter (around a 2B), the Mini Balls are 0.25" shorter than the 16" Acorn Tips. While the Mini Balls had a small round bead tip, the Acorn Tips had, get this, an acorn-shaped tip!
One of my favorite formulas for a stick is a rounded tip combined with lightweight wood and a thicker diameter. The result is almost always a nice solid ping from your ride cymbal, which I love while playing jazz or lower level funk. The Mini Balls and Acorn Tips fit that formula, and produced just that sound.
The Mini Balls surprisingly produced a thicker, darker, and more-confident ping than the Acorn Tips. The Acorn Tips drew a brighter, sharper ping, where I almost wished I had a glockenspiel or bell-less ride on which to play them. Their happy, pleasant bounce felt great on my closed hats, and equally good on the edge of my snare drum.
I have no idea why I never pieced together that maple is a lighter wood than hickory, but something finally clicked while testing out these models. The sticks felt solid and durable at rimshot volume, even if some of their tonal quality was lost. Although the sticks actually held together for longer then I anticipated, the way they finally broke was interesting. While Antonio Sanchez’ hickory model slowly chipped away until it broke, the new maple models both just snapped cleanly the moment they had taken too much of a beating. With that said, these sticks were probably not intended for heavy hitters, especially in a situation where Young’s newest model would have been more appropriate.
Model Length Diameter Tip Price
Antonio Sanchez 16.25" 0.55" Wood $17.25
Adrian Young 16.50" 0.585" Nylon $17.25
Maple Mini Ball 15.75" 0.635" Wood $15.50
Maple Acorn Tip 16" 0.62" Wood $15.50
Antonio Sanchez’ signature model, like his drumming, is elegant, solid, and great for any player looking for a longer, thinner model stick with a nice barrel tip. While I give Adrian Young props for designing one of the most creative sticks I’ve ever seen, I would suggest you avoid this particular model until Zildjian modifies the paint-transfer issue. I loved both of the new maple models. Their light weight and unique tips make them great for very precise musical settings like jazz or fusion.