BY JOHN NYMAN
Los Cabos is a Canadian manufacturer with a heavy angle. In addition to the expected white hickory and maple sticks, it has red hickory drum sticks, which are denser and heavier than the others. In available sizes this allows for a triple threat of weights without changing the dimensions of these quality tools. I played my way through a large box of Los Cabos drum sticks, and the extra heft and beefiness of the red hickory sticks really stood out.
RED MEANS GO!
The Los Cabos red hickory 5A stick, for example, is a good old 5A stick: 0.575” diameter, 16” long, with a teardrop-shaped wood tip. That’s pretty normal. But the “red” hickory — heartwood culled from nearer the center of the tree — is a denser, heavier wood than “white” hickory — sapwood from the outer rings of the tree. The red hickory sticks are heavier and, according to both scientific analysis from the University Of New Brunswick and my own personal experience (just as good, right?), they are more durable than white hickory. This is good if you are cranking up the intensity and the volume and need more stick! With a white hickory stick, the need for extra clubbing power often shifts you into a larger-size stick. With the Los Cabos red hickory stick you can get more heft and durability while staying in touch with your favorite size.
GETTING WHAT YOU NEED
I love a good Louisville Slugger of a drum stick when I’m on a bashamatic gig, but things really vary around here and lately I’ve been doing loud, medium, and soft gigs. The large box of sticks that Los Cabos sent for review didn’t let me down. Many stick models came in all three categories: white hickory (normal), white maple (lighter), and red hickory (heavier).
I’ve had good fun with maple sticks from various manufacturers, because maple is very light. Sometimes switching to maple is all you need to lower your sound level a notch. The lighter wood is easier to slow down, easier to restrain, and therefore maximizes your “quiet” or “concerto” chops. I dug the white maple 5A for a lighter touch on my weekly swing band rehearsal (octogenarians don’t like it loud), and I used the white maple 7A (slender at 0.543” diameter and shorter at 15.5” long) with great success on a restaurant gig that is often “brushes only.”
GOOD OL’ HICKORY
For purposes of comparison it’s best to use the good ol’ hickory stick, because hickory is far and away the most popular material for drum sticks. The Los Cabos 2B in white hickory, for example, is a fine hammer for rocking and rolling. Fat in the hand at 0.626” diameter, this teardrop-tipped stick has a long, gradual taper, a matte finish, and the extra authority provided by its 16.25” length. The workmanship on the 2Bs and on all the Los Cabos sticks I used was very good: nicely balanced pairs, evenly applied finish, very good pitch matching, and an overall feeling of quality.
RED HICKORY, DOC
But the red hickory is an innovation I’ve been waiting for. On really, really loud gigs, with the guitar amp right next to you (oh why must it always be right next to you?) you will need more stick. For me, the gig-mandated shift upward in stick diameter and length often brought uncomfortable changes in grip and extension. With the Los Cabos red hickory sticks I can stay with the size I like and add the extra muscle I need. In fact, I can now carry my favorite size, 5B, in all three weights (white hickory, red hickory, white maple), and becomfortably tooled up for a variety of volumes. Okay, bandmates, bring your Marshall! Bring your acoustic piano! Bring your accordion! Just bring it! I’m not afraid.
INTENSIFY THE IMPACT
Want just a little change in size? Try the Los Cabos Intense models, which are just a tad longer. The Los Cabos white hickory 5A Intense, for example, is 16.5” long (that’s 0.5” longer) but the same diameter as the regular 5A. The combination of heftier stick plus a little more length for a little more whip might be all you need. There’s also red hickory Intense models in both 5A and 5B.
Los Cabos Drum Sticks have scored a trifecta in wood. Three different woods offering three distinct weights mean three unique volume options without you having to lose your grip on your comfort zone.
Red Hickory: 2B, 3B, 5A, 5B, 5A Intense, 5B Intense, 7A, 8A, Jazz, Rock
White Hickory: 2B, 3A, 5A, 5B, 5A Intense, 5B Intense, 7A, 8A, Jazz, Rock, Shotguns, Parade
White Maple: 2B, 3B, 5A, 5B, 7A, 8A, Jazz, Rock, Concert
Wooden Tip: $13.50/pair
Nylon Tip: $14/pair
FEATURES Top-grade drum sticks available in three different kinds of wood: white hickory, red hickory, white maple. Dipped sticks, nylon-tipped sticks, brushes, bundles, and mallets also available.
Los Cabos Drumsticks