Happy Friday ya’ll! Quick reminder before we dive into this week’s stick: make sure you enter our Superdrum snare drum Giveaway if you haven’t already. The entry deadline is April, 1 2013, so you’ve still got plenty of time.
Alright, let’s get down to business. This week, we’re checking out a stick from the recently re-launched Ayotte Drums. In addition to the world-class tubs that made Ayotte’s name the stuff of legend, the company also offered a modest line of drumsticks that developed a devout following among drummers around the globe. Now, Ayotte (under new management) is making those sticks available again, using the same cuts and treatments that made the original line so beloved.
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When I saw the Ayotte stick selection at this year’s NAMM show, I immediately reached for a pair of the Jazz Maples. The stick uses one of my absolute favorite designs – a light-weight maple body with a comfortably fat grip and a small bead up top (similar to Vic Firth’s SD2 Bolero or Vater’s Piccolo) – and I’m always eager to check out other manufacturer’s take on this type.
The first thing I noticed about Ayotte’s Jazz Maple was how comfortable the finish was in hand. The extremely light lacquer leaves the stick feeling mostly natural to the touch. I found this to be really nice for low volume situations where I needed to be a little bit more in control dynamically. The dry, woody surface just made me feel like I was more connected to the stick on the whole. For louder situations, I’ll always prefer something a little tackier, but I probably wouldn’t be using a maple stick on a super loud gig anyway.
As much as I liked the feel, the real reason I enjoyed the Jazz Maples so much was the sound they pulled out of my cymbals. To my ear, this is the most important benefit of this type of stick design. The combination of that light maple body and small bead always produces a dark, focused, smoky sound from my thin pies. I’ve always thought it was the perfect sound for bop or café stuff where dynamics are so important, but you still want to get a full and complex tone out of your favorite cymbals.
The Jazz Maples gave me that sound in spades. I’ve been using them almost constantly in the month since I picked them up, and they’re growing on me even more daily. The fatter handle offers a comfortable grip that doesn’t feel too pencil-y like so many other jazz sticks, making them much easier to control.
My only issue with Ayotte’s Jazz Maple is the weight balance. Because they’re designed mostly for light and low-volume play, they’re just a little too back end heavy for me. That’s not to say that they’re particularly unbalanced, but the lack of weight up front makes them a little less prone to rebound, so playing speedy strokes in succession requires a tiny bit of extra work (in my hands). However, I understand that adding more weight up front would likely affect the beautiful sound these sticks create on cymbals. So, I’m happy to overlook it.
While the cut and body shape of Ayotte’s Jazz Maple drumsticks is very familiar, the Canadian company set themselves apart by offering them in such a comfortably smooth finish. The light-weight, yet bulky, body makes these sticks perfect for drummers who are used to playing something a little heavier, but need to reel in the volume a skosh. Finally, the Tony Williams a la Seven Steps to Heaven cymbal sound the Jazz Maples can help create is more than enough to keep a pair in your bag.