We’re back with the second installment of our Stick of the Week series. For this edition, we’re checking out a very unique stick from a company called XCEL. If you’re curious about a particular brand or model, let me know in the comments section, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Length: 15 7/8”
Tip: Broad Acorn
Price: $8.99 at XCEL Drumsticks
Take one look at the XCEL 5B and you’ll immediately notice the large bead built into the middle of the taper. That peculiar node is the hallmark of the XCEL Drumsticks line. It serves as a secondary striker, which, per the XCEL website “lends a brighter sound, better ride and bounce, and provides for less wear on the stick.” It’s a really interesting design that definitely affects the way the stick plays, but let’s touch on the overall build first before we get into the bead itself.
When compared to other 5Bs, the XCEL stick is just a touch heavier, and has what looks to be a slightly fatter taper. The hickory feels quite dense in hand, and when combined with the wide taper and a broad acorn tip, the stick kind of plays a little bigger than it actually was. It’s mostly well-balanced, if not a little front-end heavy. But, if anything, the extra forward mass proved helpful when I was playing heavy or loud music.
The other thing that needs to be said about the XCEL 5Bs is that they’re crazy durable. Full disclosure, I’ve had this pair of sticks for many months, I’ve used them with some regularity, and they look basically unused – a few dings here and there, but for the most part, still in excellent shape. If you’ve got a habit of burning through sticks, it might be time to grab a pair or two of XCELs.
Alright, now that we’ve discussed the overall feel of the stick itself, let’s zero in on XCEL’s secondary striker. The bead is maybe a little larger than twice the size of a regular barrel tip, and it sits about two inches below the head. For me, the most practical application of the secondary striker was spanking the bell of a cymbal on upbeats or quarters while riding on the bow with the tip. It also fattened up rimshots and flams a little bit, adding some extra beef to my toms and snare. The utility may seem a tad limited, but it worked exceedingly well when needed. Pretty neat.
On the whole, the XCEL 5B was a mostly enjoyable stick that was occasionally a little too front heavy for low-volume play. Granted this is a heavier stick designed for extra oomph, but for me, the balance was just a bit shy of perfect. However, the unique secondary striker was intriguing and exciting enough to make XCEL sticks worth checking out. Plus, that major durability was a huge bonus. Give ‘em a shot!