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Hornets Drumsticks      pan60: I have selected four drummers and asked them to give me a review of your products in addition to my own comments.   Hi Aaron! I like things to be a bit more informal than the traditional magazine review. Please do not feel any need to be concerned about how you structure you replies. I feel the readers like things a bit more laid back, as well do I.   So, how did the Hornets come about? Are you the manager, owner, is it a partnership, a family business, or a corporation? I see your website outlines that you are Kingfield Wood Products, former manufacturer of the Vic Firth drumsticks. Can you give us any additional company history, such as where the idea came from? Aaron: HORNETS Drumsticks is a father-son business that began almost two years ago, when my father and I took a few homemade prototypes to the NAMM show in Anaheim, and were swarmed by dealers wanting to order. We had no way to produce high volume and knew nothing about the way the industry works. We just had a few samples. After seeing the reaction at the show, we decided to go for it. We eventually partnered with Kingfield Wood Products to help us manufacture the sticks because they have a long history of drumstick production. We spent the months following the NAMM show helping them perfect the design and working out any production kinks before putting the sticks out into the market. My father, Robert Wilhelm, is an artist and designer, and he has designed a number of products for a number of industries. He noticed that drumsticks generally looked boring compared with other instruments, like guitars or even drumkits. He also realized that he could greatly improve on the basic design of most drumsticks and make them look cooler at the same time. The result was a drumstick that combines art with functional and ergonomic superiority. Some of the functional benefits he incorporated into the design of the stick are as follows: • Contoured handle fits more naturally into the shape of the hand than does a straight piece of wood. • Raised handle allows the thumb to relax, reducing strain on the forearm tendon and simultaneously increasing stamina. •Patented use of o-rings reduces vibration and shock to the wrist, decreasing the risk of the long-term injuries so many drummers have to deal with (Carpal Tunnel, Tendinitis, etc.) • O-rings act as an excellent grip. When the hand becomes sweaty, sticks can get away from you, but our o-rings will catch your hand and prevent the stick from slipping. •Because of the o-rings, you always know exactly where your hand is on the stick without ever having to look down. •Using the butt end of the sticks on cymbals creates a mallet-like effect perfect for cymbal rolls. pan60: Any fears involved, in such a historic departure, in what many feel a drum stick is?  Aaron: Well, of course, there are always those who are naturally opposed to any change. And particularly because drumsticks are often referred to as “the world’s oldest instrument,” some people have a hard time believing it’s even possible to improve on the design. But, once people actually put the sticks in their hands and try them out, things change immediately. I can’t tell you how many e-mails we’ve received saying, “Why hasn’t someone done this before!?” Any time somebody tries to change the way things have been done for a long time, there’s always resistance. The changes we have made, though, are so dramatic, and word has started to spread to such a degree, now, that it has become very difficult for people to ignore what we’ve started to do. “HORNETS-aholics” are starting to pop up everywhere now. pan60: Is hickory and maple the only two woods you use? Did you choose these as a result of tradition or just because, oh, their proven reliability? Is the wood aged in any way before stick production starts, or is that top secret? Aaron: Our drumsticks are made of hickory wood because hickory absorbs shock. It is very dense, yet isn’t as heavy as some other woods, like oak. Hickory has been the choice of drummers in the U.S. for decades now, and for good reason. An important distinction is to be made, however, between 1st and 2nd quality hickory wood. It is possible to find very inexpensive drumsticks made of hickory, but these sticks are made of second quality wood, with all sorts of imperfections, knots, and mineral streaks that seriously weaken the stick, make it harder to straighten it, and reduce the general quality of the wood. HORNETS are made exclusively from 1st quality hickory wood to ensure that we put out the highest quality drumstick on the market. Our Swarm Sticks are made from maple wood and the dowels on them are birch. Maple is more fast-playing than hickory, and breakage isn’t an issue since multi-dowel sticks are used for softer applications. Birch is used for the dowels because it is very flexible and creates that crisp, splashy sound, so many of us love. pan60: Any thoughts on composite sticks? Aaron: Composite sticks are great, and you can create sticks that will never break using metal, plastic, etc. But, most drummers, I know, care more about the sound their sticks produce than anything else. It’s true that wooden sticks eventually break, but I don’t know any drummers who prefer the sound of a metal or plastic stick, or who prefers the way a metal stick feels in the hand to a wooden stick. Manufacturers always argue for composite sticks on the basis of their durability, but durability is one of many factors that drummers use to make up their mind. For my money, when it comes down to it, nothing beats wood. pan60: Are there any differences in sticks with color, or is that more of a fashion/art thing? Aaron: The different colors of HORNETS serve no functional purpose at all. This is the “art” portion of our design. In fact, we’re introducing a line of sticks at the NAMM show in a few weeks that has no color at all for those who want a less expensive option. The functional benefits are all still there, but there’s no color. Pan60: The Swarms, look like they would be very cool, I bet they are a great selling item. What size sticks do you sell the most of, or is it all over the map? Aaron: The Swarm Sticks are definitely big sellers. But, our most popular size is 5A, and our most popular colors are red and blue. 5As are the most popular size in the industry, so it makes sense that we sell more of those. But, I’m not sure why drummers tend to prefer red and blue. Of course, we sell plenty of the other colors, as well (green, orange, black and natural). But, red and blue are definitely in the lead, so far. Hornets Review by pan60 First, I am far from being a drummer, but, I do beat on them a bit and I can keep a decent rhythm: )~. My thoughts are, well, the Hornets felt really odd to me, at first. But, I am really starting to like them. The more I use them, the more I like them. The feel, balance and rebound felt ‘off,’ at first. I think that they are just so different, my first expectations were just blown out the window. At first, I kept wanting to choke up on them (move my grip more to the tip), far too much. But, at last, I have gotten past that. After spending a great deal of time with these, I found I have much better control than I have had with other sticks in the past. They feel good and comfortable to me. Well, I have been using these for months, now. So what's the verdict? Well, I am loving them! I have been using 7bs the most, slamming a lot of rim shots, and they are holding up fine. I do want to add, I do not go through a lot of sticks, and it would be a rarity for me to break a stick anyway. I like the sound on the cymbals, and these babies are easy to articulate with just a bit of getting use to. As I am far from a drummer, I asked a few others to help out with the review. So, I will leave the rest to the more qualified drummers to offer their thoughts and reviews below. Hornets Review by Andrews "Dirty Halo'' There are many ways to approach a review, but in this case, the perspective of "feel" in performance seems to be the most meaningful for me. After using the Hornets for a while and considering them with some perspective of time (not just an initial reaction), the best way I can describe my reaction and summation of the Hornets is: If sticks were originally designed like the Hornets, then standard drum sticks, as we know them today, would feel like an awkward step backward. Hornets are really an evolution. Their unique contour and balance for feel equates to a more natural performance.   At first, I'll admit, this takes some getting used to, but that's why I chose to write with a bit of perspective. It becomes clear that Hornets are a simple matter of drum stick evolution. Feel, balance, bounce & strike... all one with the ergonomics of the Hornet's design. Now, your standard pair of sticks feel clunky in comparison. All in all, I feel the greatest attribute of the Hornets is that they feel as if this was the way sticks were supposed to be made the first time around. -Andrews from bands "Dirty Halo" & upcoming release "Andrews X" Hornets Review by Tony SanFilippo Hornet’s drumsticks are quite interesting and unique. Up near the top, they are similar to many sticks you’ve seen before. About halfway down there’s a bulb/bulge in the stick and another at the end. The one at the end has 3 rubber O-rings that are said to act as shock absorbers and double as a softer surface that can be used for cymbal rolls. Where the first bulb occurs, the stick is also dyed and available in a variety of colors. Through our buddy, Pan60, I was sent a set of 5B sticks, my usual size for rock playing. The sticks feel good and the balance from the added shape in the butt does have a good effect. I tend to hold the sticks near the end and I liked the way the flaring out at the end felt in my palm. The tips on the sticks are round balls, not the traditional acorn shape. I like ball tips for snare drum playing in a concert environment. I’m not as fond of them on drum-set. There’s also a good amount of taper to the tip. In my opinion, the ball end and the longer taper to a thinner point before the tip, is detrimental. Comparing these to Vater 5B (my regular brand), the sonic differences were pretty big. The Vater has an acorn tip and a thicker shank. The Hornet design pulls more of the low mids out of the ride cymbal and doesn’t articulate the highs as well. This means that the dominant frequencies the stick is producing is in the range of many elements of the band and can get lost because of it. An acorn tip pulls out more highs and thus the cymbal can float above the band a bit and be heard more easily. On snare and tom, the hornet’s longer taper and thinner shank brought out more attack and less of the meat of the drums, whereas the thicker shank of the Vaters brought out more meat and thusly more sustain, especially on toms. The O-rings on the end may work as shock absorbers (its really hard to tell while using them), but using them as cymbal ‘mallets’ only worked if the stick was on a perfect angle with the cymbal. I’d like to see O-rings that are a bit thicker and stick out more to make the idea of using them for cymbals easier and thus, more useful. These sticks feel really good in my hand. I really wish the top half was different, because then they would sound as good as they feel. I only had one pair, but they didn’t seem to be the sturdiest sticks. I play rimshots on the snare with my left hand 85% of the time. After just two rehearsals the left stick was torn up enough that it was now lighter, kind of flexible and tonally compromised. Without additional pairs I can’t say whether this is an issue with Hornets or not. Hornets Review by Warren Dent Pan sent me a pair of 5B Hornets to check out recently, so I thought I would add a few thoughts on these. I'm a drummer and currently play a DW kit which resides in my studio. I mainly play rock-based drums and tend to hit fairly hard on the drums, but not hard on the cymbals. The Hornets have a very unique balance to them and take a bit of getting used to. I don't want to get into a "better" or "worse" commentary, because that simply isn't so when comparing these drumsticks to others. For a point of reference for you, I'll tell you, I typically use Omar Hakim nylon tips, as I find them to be a good balance of being able to hit hard and move fast, and the nylon tips last a long time and sound great on ride, hats, etc. The Hornets enable you to sort of milk them for different feel and response. You can grip higher on the thicker mid-section and speed up fills and the sensitive ghost rolls become easier. You can grip between the bottom and middle (the more slender section), and grab a more solid thwack with less and a bit slower rebound. I did notice that the shift in balance, when gripping in the center, can enable faster action, but still retain a solid hit with these sticks. You have a lot of grip points to choose from, really, and the differences in thickness allow you to quickly find your sweet spot. At first, I thought the Hornets were slower in response with my playing, until I played with them further. I eventually discovered that they are just as quick and possibly can be bounced a bit faster by comparison to my Omar Hakims. It just takes some getting used to, as with anything else. Overall, I would say they are quite good sticks and make it easier to find your sweet spot for grip. The balance of the sticks can be manipulated easily for more heavy-handed playing or more sensitive material. Overall, I'd say good stuff! Warren Dent  
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Hornets Drumsticks