By Nicolas Grizzle

Before the pandemic took hold, we had a chance to sit down with Chris Long, vice-president of operations at  Nashville-based drumstick and mallet makers Innovative Percussion, to get into the nitty gritty of drumsticks and mallets. The company had recently moved its entire production operation to the Nashville headquarters, so we got to see just how the sticks are made.

While we aren’t able to show you the “secret sauce” of just how Innovative Percussion differs from their competitors in manufacturing (trade secrets being secret for a reason), we did get some insight from a 25-year industry veteran on how to choose the right stick, and the amount of detail that goes into making them. Not only are the sticks digitally pitch-matched, but they’re weight-matched to within two grams of each other. Considering that each stick starts out as an inch-thick dowel, that’s a pretty incredible feat.

We also learned that Innovative Percussion is more than just a clever name—the company doesn’t repeat its designs across its 600-plus products, and even uses unconventional materials like hockey pucks and lacrosse balls in some of its mallet designs.