Playing drum brushes will improve your drumming and get you more gigs. In this post, I’m going to share the different drum brushes I have used over my 33-year professional drumming career. I’ll also share about the brushes I currently use and why I think are the best Jazz drum brushes on the market today. I think they’re going to be great for you too!
First off, I am not endorsed by any drum brush or stick maker. I also only share products at vonbarondrummer.com that have worked for me and I think will also help you in your drumming.
Recommended Jazz drum brush features
Before I share the drum brushes I have used, here is my recommended list of features for Jazz brushes:
- Light gauge wires
- Shaft is one piece. No cap on the end.
- Retractable (so your wires don’t get mangled when you put them in your stick bag)
- An O-ring on the end to scrape cymbals
- Soft gum rubber covering the shaft for a comfortable grip and clean brush flutters off the rim.
- Two notches in the metal retractor for full open or medium open wire settings.
- The weight balance feels natural in your hand. A brush that is too front heavy is a little harder to move smoothly.
My first drum brushes – Regal Tip Brushes
My first Jazz drum brushes were made by Regal Tip. They were recommended to me by Jeff Hamilton. He also went on to design and manufacture his own Regal Tip brushes with a thicker gauge wire. While they were easier to bounce, the sound was a bit too abrasive for my ears.
My next drum brushes – Zildjian brushes
Next, I tried Zildjian brushes. Zildjian certainly makes great cymbals, which I always seem to gravitate back to after trying other makers. Their brushes are also good starter brushes but the feel and sound were not smooth enough for me.
The best Jazz drum brushes
After Zildjian brushes, I went back to playing Regal Tip brushes for many years. Then one day, a drum student of mine brought the Vic Firth Heritage Brushes to a lesson. WOW! From that day on, they’re all I’ve used. I use them to play, Jazz, Brazilian, Afro-Cuban, Hip-Hop, Funk, Country, Pop and anything else that comes my way. They are super versatile and long-lasting.
Nothing but good stuff to say
The first thing I like about the Vic Firth Heritage Brushes is that they’re PURPLE! The color makes them really easy to see and pull out of my stick bag even in low stage light.
The softer gum rubber doesn’t give me blisters like some other brushes have done. The softer gum rubber also makes rim flutters smoother. Less sound of the shaft hitting the rim and more of the wire fluttering sound on the drum head.
The metal ring (O-ring) on the end (also on all of the other brushes I shared above) is very useful to scrape cymbals. Cymbal scraping is absolutely essential in Jazz ballad playing. Brushes without the O-ring are pretty useless for Jazz in my opinion.
Some brushes are designed with a cap on the end with the O-ring. This cap inevitably breaks off making the brushes useless. The Vic Firth Heritage Brushes have one solid shaft piece so they never come apart.
More good stuff to say
Another feature I like are the two notches in the metal retractors. They are locks for medium and full opening of the wires. Very useful for keeping the brushes from slipping back into the shaft while playing.
Since day one, my Vic Firth Heritage Brushes, have never had any problems with the wires getting jammed in the metal shaft. For some lower-priced brushes this can be a really big problem. Your wires get all mangled inside the shaft and don’t come out when you try to push out the wires.
The Heritage Brush wires are lightweight but for some reason don’t get bent too easily. That’s definitely a plus! The weight balance is also just right in my hands. I play traditional grip with brushes and both hands always feel natural.
My Vic Firth Heritage Brushes last me about 6 months. That’s playing about 15-20 gigs per month, practice and teaching. That’s not too bad! I have also played Vic Firth Heritage Brushes for roughly 8 years.
So, of all the brushes I have used in my professional career spanning over 3 decades, I recommend the Vic Firth Heritage brushes. The price is great and the build quality and sound are professional all the way!
I hope you found this post valuable. If you’re ready to feel confident playing brushes on the bandstand check out my BRUSHES MASTERY COURSE. You might also like my blog about music dynamics for drummers. Here I also share about how brushes can add dynamics to your drumming. Thanks for reading and as I always say, KEEP ON DRUMMIN’!
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