6 Best Drum Brushes [Out of 18 Tested]
Posted in Gear | Last Updated on September 30, 2019
As a drummer, professional or otherwise, you should strive to grow the arsenal in your stick bag to be prepared for any gig or session that comes your way. One of the selections that you can include along with your drum gear is a pair of brushes. Drum brushes are usually perceived as a one-dimensional tool that can be used only for a niche style of music. Although, this isn't true as the music that they provide is downright different from what your average drumstick can produce.
Used primarily on the snare drum, these things can add a wider dimension to your drumming style not only in jazz settings but a variety of other genres too as their softer feel expands your sound giving a different flavor.
Picking out your set of drum brushes depends on what type of music you play as a drummer. A list of varied types is created by different manufacturers to satisfy just that.
Making the right choice when it comes to you would sometimes be a cumbersome process what with all the options out there. Let us take a look at some of the best brushes for drums the industry has to offer.
Vic Firth Live Wire
Vic Firth is a company that started some 60 years ago. They became famous for designing and producing a diversity of options for drumming products such as drumsticks, mallets, and other accessories. The Live Wire by Vic Firth is a drum brush that is considered to be the best in terms of usability. Based on the positives and negatives given below I think this is definitely a good buy.
- Significantly higher in volume so much so that it has twice the volume of any ordinary brush.
- Retractable; keeping the wires safe when not in use.
- Made with durable material that helps it last longer as it doesn’t get bent up easily like most brushes.
- Includes a slip-resistant grip on the handle coating that provides better control when gripping the handles.
- Adjustable wire length helps you modify the tightness of your sound.
- The beads at the end of the wires, although a good addition, break off in a couple of months.
Promark TB5 Telescoping Wire Brushes
Promark is a family business that started in 1957. An interesting fact about this company is that when using wood to make products for drums, this company uses only un-endangered wood. Their extensive selection process enables them to produce the best of the best. And that is the exact thing we see in the below pointers. No doubt, this is a product for which you can spend your money on.
- Wire brush comes with retractable bristles ensuring safety and longevity of your drum brush.
- The handles of the brush are textured that minimizes slip and improves grip.
- The wires in the brush are higher in their gauge which in turn adds volume and durability.
- Made with a sturdy build that helps it lasts long and through those rough drum sessions.
Vater VBM Monster Drum Brushes
Another very old percussion accessory company is Vater. They started making drum sticks in the year 1956 and later went on to add more collections in the future. Depending on your specific need, I would say that the VBM Monster Drum brush is a decent choice.
- Versatile and adjustable providing a subtle sound of a brush or a stick-like without being too loud.
- Includes a comfortable grip that gives you the needed control.
- Polymer strands to add a unique tone and effect in your playing.
- Slightly on the heavier side which helps you get higher volume with less effort.
- The polymer strands are flimsy, so the output of volume is lowered.
- The flimsy strands also reduce the crispness and precision in drumming.
Zildjian Professional Wire Brush
Now this company goes way back to 1623. That’s almost 400 years since the company started in Turkey. Zildjian makes various products for drummers such as cymbals, drumsticks, mallets, and others. If you actually take a look at their brands, we have our famous Vic Firth in that list, along with Balter Mallets. However, the product we are looking at here doesn’t live up to its company’s brand image.
- Wires can be opened for a brushing sound and retract to increase volume.
- The sleeve is made of rubber to enable easier holding.
- Sturdy even when the cover is retracted and stays in place at whatever position you keep it in.
- The ring at the base of the wires lies perpendicular to the angle of the brush, making it uncomfortable to hold.
- Cannot open brushes quickly which can be hard when you are playing live.
- Wires tend to come apart easily when retracted and opened too many times.
- Leaves behind scratches on equipment while using it.
Regal Tip Cabasa (BR-584W)
Regal tip’s mission has always been to revolutionize the traditional drumstick and release them with much better quality. The addition of nylon was one of the first ideas the founder had come up with to upgrade the drumstick. Ever since then their journey has only passed more innovation and intuitive product ideas. Taking a look at what the product, Cabasa, has to offer, I would say it is a good buy.
- Wire brushes provide a sharp tone
- The retractable for the bristles keep wire enclosed when not in use
- Rubber and wooden handle for the brush opens a whole new world of sound when it comes to striking on cymbals or drum rims.
- Certain times the wires are difficult to retract.
Vic Firth Heritage Brush Rubber Handle
This is another product from the Vic Firth company. It is used for a very niche purpose. If a brush that is specifically made for jazz music is what you are looking for then this is the brush for you.
- Perfect to recreate the retro 50’s or 60’s jazz-style music from the olden days.
- Brush bristles are very flexible.
- Rubber handle offers reliable hold on your brushes.
- Not very durable.
- Not the ideal option if you want a narrower fan-out or a stiffer brush.
What creates those delicious sounds?
There is a range of factors that influence the sound you can create with your drum brushes.
The bristles come in wire or plastic mostly from which the wire type is widely used because of its stability.
When it comes to plastic, one main advantage is that they are never prone to rust. They are light in weight and give out a quieter sound when compared to the one made with wire. They are also much more durable than the wire bristled brush.
For the handle, having a good grip is a necessary factor for good playability in terms of feel. Rubber ranks the highest in this regard and it offers the player a better hold which can help when playing for long shows. Plastic handles provide an option that is light in weight whereas wood is the more traditional option that feels more natural to play with. Each of these has its advantages and disadvantages so you should choose the one that fits your needs the best.
What features should a drum brush have?
Weight and Size
When buying your drum brush, you must also think about the weight and size of your potential brushes. Heavy brushes tend to feel more like a drumstick and so wood would be a good option for that. However, if you want to go lighter, it would be best to opt for a plastic or a rubber one.
Retractable brushes are great as you can keep your wires safe and sound and transport them easily without having them nick into different places. However, we should know how easy it is to open and retract them. I think it shouldn’t be too easy or too difficult. A middle ground would be perfect as this would ensure that your brush would hold its shape perfectly and at the same time not wear down too quickly with time if the fixture was too hard to work with. This option will also allow you to set the fan-out degree of your bristles.
Fixed brushes can last a little longer in this regard as there is no opening and retracting movements that are happening that would damage the bristles in any way. But as you would have guessed by now the wires are exposed. So, you’ve got to take extra care of these.
Which settings do drum brushes shine in?
As mentioned above, jazz is not the only type of music for which you should use your drum brushes. An acoustic setting is also one where it would work beautifully by blending all the instruments. As there is no amplifier for any of the instruments, the softer the drum the better. Apart from this, other settings like orchestra, rock, post-rock, or even pop also use them to bring up a variety of sounds to the table.