It’s been a little while since I’ve been able to share a new review because I’ve been hard at work on the first of a new series of videos that should be ready later this week (hopefully). In the meantime, please check out this short write up of three throwback stick models from Bopworks.
Not long ago, I reviewed a beautiful pair of brushes from BrushFire which were designed to replicate the look and feel of those used by the jazz greats of yesterday. While working on that review, I was reminded of another manufacturer I stumbled upon a few years back that made a big splash with a similar motif.
Bopworks started attracting attention within the past decade by producing hickory drumsticks that are exact replicas of the sticks used by drummers of the forties, fifties and sixties. Often thinner and shorter than modern models, the Bopworks line offers a lighter, more nimble option for those players looking to recapture that so sought after sound.
After a brief hiatus, the company has returned to full production, so I figured this is a great time to take a quick look at three of their classically styled sticks.
The flagship model of the Bopworks line and one of the smallest sticks offered by the company, the Birdland model easily replicates the popping, mobile sound of New York’s legendary bebop drummers. Only 15 and 5/16” long and half an inch around, this diminutive stick produces plenty of woody, clean tones from both cymbals and drums.
The Birdland’s long taper down to a frighteningly skinny neck, coupled with its narrow oval tip helps make the stick the perfect option for players in search of a light, controlled sound with plenty of clarity. Extremely nimble with just enough punch handle a wide dynamic spread, this is a great pair of sticks that perfectly captures the Bopworks spirit.
Designed to emulate the low, smoky sounds of the California cool jazz movement that rose to prominence in the fifties, the West Coast stick feels great on big, washy rides. Coming in at 15 and 13/16” long with a .520” diameter, they’re a little larger than some of Bopworks other offerings, but still plenty small enough to make volume control and up-tempo play very easy.
The West Coast has a smooth, moderate taper with a long oval tip that helps highlight the deep tones of toms and cymbals without sacrificing clarity (like many larger sticks). Double strokes around the kit were exceptionally easy with the WCs as they’re balanced exceptionally well.
This is a great pair of sticks, but I would be happier with just a bit more definition on cymbals. The West Coasts pull a bit too much trash out of my thin cymbals, so they don’t see a ton of playing time. However, on slightly heavier cymbals (medium-thin) they’re very enjoyable.
A spot on replica of the 7D stick used by Thad Jones’ partner in crime, the Mel Lewis is far and away my favorite Bopworks model. It’s a little thicker than their other sticks at .540”, but only 15 and 1/8” long, giving it plenty of high-velocity rebound.
The Lewis model’s sharp acorn tip, medium taper and thicker body help produce big, round tones on toms and snares, and a dark, woody click on even the thinnest cymbals. The extra weight feels great in hand, and made them the easiest of the three sticks to control. I’ve had these sticks for several years, and still pull them out on occasion – a great tool that’s always in my stick bag.
Finding a unique space in a market stuffed with every manner of stick, Bopworks offers jazz drummers a very special product. The young company might be trying to recapture the sounds of a bygone era, but there’s something very hip about these simple, elegant sticks that are so different from everything else on the shelf.
Whether you’re a diehard jazz drummer or simply someone looking to add a different voice to your repertoire, Bopworks drumsticks will make an excellent addition to your bag. Swing (sorry) by their website to learn more and order a few pairs.