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Is there any way I can improve how long my sticks last, and prevent chips, splints and cracks?

As a metal drummer, I find that I am playing a lot of rim hits. Whether I have nylon tips or wood tips, the sticks never seem to last more than two or three weeks.

Can I use varnish and other wood preservatives to harden the sticks before use? Is there any other way that I can avoid spending money on sticks every two weeks?

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All I can offer is statements from a couple semipro percussionists I know who said they ran thru sticks like crazy. Try buying in bulk - I saw one online store listing some hickories for $40/dozen pairs. – Carl Witthoft Jul 11 '13 at 17:28
For short term flip the tip and play reversed (the butt of the stick hits the drums). For mid-term switch to heavier sticks. For long-term you might need to improve your technique. Every two weeks seems a little too soon (depends on the rehersal time though). – user1306 Jul 12 '13 at 14:21
up vote 9 down vote accepted

You could try switching to oak sticks: they're much harder on the hands, but they are stronger and more rigid.

Apart from that, the usual advice is to avoid hitting the rim of a cymbal. It's bad for the cymbals as well as the sticks. If you're trying to play louder, hit the cymbal with the stick parallel to the surface, so the contact area is huge. The sound you get is just as loud if you get it right, and less bright. If you find this hard to get right, probably your cymbals are too high or too horizontal: lower them or angle them towards you, so the stick naturally lands flat on the cymbal when your shoulders are relaxed.

For rim shots on the snare drum, make sure the stick is hitting the rounded inside of the rim (as it will if the tip is hitting the head at the same time like it should). You shouldn't be hitting the sharper outside of the rim at all.

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I buy heat shrink sleeving from Maplins. Use a hair dryer on high setting or an electric paint stripping gun.

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