September 20, 2010

Gear Review: CS Carbosticks Drumsticks

"The CARBOSTICKS from CS is manufactured in a revolutionary new process completely out of carbon fibre material which combines maximum durability with a perfect handling."

--- printed on the Carbosticks package

"Tired of drumsticks that split, crack and splinter?  Carbosticks are the answer!  Carbosticks are made of a unique patented carbon fiber compound with many desired wood characteristics – including feel, sound, weight and balance – but Carbosticks last three to eight times longer!  Not only that, but they are specially manufactured to wick away perspiration, resist abrasion and be unaffected by changes in temperature and humidity.

The company uses a color code system to distinguish between the models’ fulcrum weight (balance point). The red labels are weighted more towards the back of the stick, giving them a lighter feel and response, most appropriate for playing jazz and pop music. Carbosticks classified by white labels are weighted more toward the shoulder and front of the sticks, giving them a heavier response for playing rock music and louder, harder rhythms."

--- description from various online musical instrument retail sites

Carbosticks are German-made drumsticks made out of carbon fiber, an alternative material with qualities of high strength and low weight.  The first time I tried these distinctive black drumsticks was last year, in November 2009, when I bought a 5A pair from Lyric.  Based on the description above, Carbosticks are color-coded based on the stick model's balance point.  I'm not sure with how the labels work (the cardboard's mainly in red, but there's a white sticker at the back which shows the stick model & a UPC), so I can't make any comparison between the red-labeled models and the white-labeled ones.

My first impression is it does have some of the characteristics found on wood sticks - the feel, weight, and balance.  My palms tend to get sweaty at times, but they hold up pretty well.  The bright cymbal sounds produced by the carbon fiber tips, which are more or less similar to the sounds produced by nylon-tipped wood sticks, may be something that other drummers might consider.  Rim clicks or cross-stick sounds are quite decent enough for a non-wood stick, considering my experience with another brand of synthetic drumsticks, where its cross-stick sounds don't have enough wood in it.  After getting used to it, I tend to forget that I'm using a carbon fiber pair. 

I use the Carbosticks as my practice sticks.  This allows me to save my Pro-Mark oaks for actual performances.  Yet from time to time I also use the Carbosticks during gigs, and it holds up pretty well.  It's also a great standby pair, just in case I break and/or run out of wood sticks in the middle of a gig.

Carbosticks are durable, though they are not unbreakable.  I heard or read a few stories about drummers who weren't happy with their Carbosticks because it broke only after a few days.  I have no idea with their technique or how they use their sticks.  But in my case, the Carbosticks 5A I bought have proven their durability.  With regular practice (on my pad or on the drumset) and with some occasional use during gigs, one of my 5A Carbosticks broke just last July.  Then the remaining pair snapped a month later.  That 8-9 month life span is quite impressive for me.

Lyric Music sells Carbosticks at a reasonable price of Php595 per pair.  Based on my experiences, these Carbosticks are great value for money, considering the number of sticks (and Pesos) I got to save by using it during practices & reserving my wood sticks for my gigs.  I just got a new pair of 5B Carbosticks, which are thicker and slightly heavier.  It should be interesting to find out how long these will last.