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Tiger Bill Reviews

Regal Tip X-Series Sticks

A New Twist on Some Old Favorites

Regal Tip X-Series Drumsticks

When Regal Tip designed their X-Series line, they started with three of their most popular models and modified them specifically for drummers who were looking for increased strength, durability, balance, and reach in a drumstick. How successful were they in their goal? I recently ran on on-the-gig test on each of their new X-Series models and here's what I found.

The Story Behind Regal Tip
Before I get into my actual stress tests (the fun part), here's a little background drumstick making and Regal Tip. Since the first drum and drumstick were produced, hundreds of years ago, drummers have had the same recurring problem. After a while, the wood starts to chip off the tip of the stick and your drums and cymbals start to sound dull, depending on what part of the stick is in contact at any moment. It was an annoying and ongoing problem. Various types of wood were used in an effort to eliminate this problem but it was no use. The tips would eventually wear out and chip and you'd be stuck with that uneven sound.

In 1958 Joe Calato, the founder of Regal Tip, came up with a solution to the tip-chip problem that has since been adopted by every drumstick company. He created the first nylon tipped drumsticks.

Joe was considered an innovator back then and he has, over the years, implemented a number of industry firsts. His was the first major drumstick company to manufacture their own drumsticks, first to install their own dry kiln to control the manufacturing process, and also the first to grade sticks for straightness of grain, weight, color, and warp, and then match each pair. And even after all these years, Regal Tip is still owned and operated by the Calato family.

Not long ago, choosing a decent pair of drumsticks was a huge hassle. Forget about ordering them through the mail or online. If you wanted to be assured of getting a straight pair of drumsticks that were properly matched in pitch, you had to go to a local music store. Providing you were lucky enough to live near a store that allowed it, you had to choose about a dozen pair of drumsticks in your favorite model and then match each one of them for straightness and tonal quality. This wasted a huge amount of time but it used to be the only way a drummer could be assured of getting a decent, matching pair of sticks.

Hurray For Technology!
Needless to say, I was anxious to see how effective the Regal Tip factory matching process is. So I "match" tested a half dozen pair of the new Regal Tip X-Series sticks. You'll find the results below, along with my on-the-gig playability tests for each pair.

 

5A-X
I tested two pairs, one with and one without nylon tips.

On-the-Gig Test: I wasn't surprised that this was my favorite model of all, among the new X-Series sticks. The original Regal Tip 5A's have been a favorite of mine on the practice pad for many years. These sticks are excellent for all around gigging, as they are hefty enough for handling Rock, yet well-balanced enough to handle light Jazz.

Tonal Match Test: Both pairs were perfectly straight and tonally matched.

 

5B-X
I tested one pair with nylon tips.

On-the-Gig Test: These sticks are a touch heavier in weight and larger in thickness than the 5A-X model, as would be expected. I found them ideal for the heavier stuff like rock, funk, and hip-hop. Their weight and balance also makes them quite effective for rudimental drum corps work.

Tonal Match Test: The pair was perfectly straight, however, they were not tonally matched to my satisfaction.

 

RK-X
I tested one pair with wood tips.

On-the-Gig Test: These sticks are slightly thinner in the body than the 5A-X models but beefier on the tip end, which makes them slightly top heavy balance-wise, which certain drummers may or may not prefer. As their Rock-X name suggests, I found them ideal for heavy playing. Their weight and rounded tip would also make these sticks effective for rudimental drum corps playing.

Tonal Match Test: The pair was perfectly straight and tonally matched.

 

Joey Waronker-X
I tested one pair with wood tips.

On-the-Gig Test: Although these signature sticks are slightly thinner and a bit longer than the Rock-X model, I prefer their balance point to that of the Rock-X. They are a slightly thinner, longer version of the 5A-X model. Like the 5A-X, I found them suitable for all around gigging. If they were a touch shorter in length, they would have replaced the 5A-X model as my favorites in this test.

Tonal Match Test: The pair was perfectly straight and tonally matched.

 

The Regal Tip X-Series Bottom Line
I spent a few weeks testing the X-Series sticks under various conditions both on the gig and in practice sessions, and I found them to be worthwhile additions to the Regal Tip line, especially for drummers who are looking for slightly longer sticks. Some drummers may feel that the shiny lacquer finish on these sticks is a disadvantage that will make sweaty sticks more slippery but I found just the opposite. Sweat caused the finish to become stickier, helping me hold onto the sticks.

In addition, I was impressed with the straightness of the sticks and their overall tonal match in every pair but the one 5B-X model noted above. Note that this tonal mismatch (where one stick is pitched higher than the other) may not bother the average drummer but my ear is extremely sensitive and this does produce a different tone when you're trying to match the sound from each stick played on a single drum.) But, I have to say, five perfect matches out of six certainly ain't bad!

Overall, Regal Tip has done a fine job producing quality sticks and it's a pleasure to no longer have to spend hours in a drum store matching them up by hand. Now, I can actually order my drumsticks over the Internet. Now that's innovative!

Until next time: Stay loose!

 

 

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