Choosing Taiko Sticks

drum sticks, sticks, bachi, taiki
--Photo via Wikipedia

What kind of sticks are used for each kind of taiko drum?

The answer is, there is no rule. Any type of stick is OK. It's entirely up to the kind of sound you want to make. Generally, however, for larger drums, you want larger sticks because small sticks simply don't bring out the full sound of the drum. For smaller drums, smaller sticks are often used to allow for speedier rhythms, and to bring out a higher pitch.

Depending on the style of play, the shape of stick will also differ. Groups that play "Yatai-bayashi", for example, often use a club-like stick- the hitting end of the stick is much thicker than the part you hold. As "Yatai-bayashi" is played while sitting, there isn't an enormous amount of  room for swinging sticks. Thus, the club-like shape- it allows for a heavier hit with minimal stick length. "Odaiko" pieces generally use heavier, longer sticks. The heavier the stick, the bigger the sound. The lighter the stick, the easier it is to do rapid rhythms.

Sticks aren't limited to cylindrical lengths of wood. It's entirely OK to get creative if it produces the sound you want. Ondekoza, for example, uses "futon-tataki" for some of their pieces. A 'futon-tataki' is a stick with a broad end that is used to whack futon mattresses (in order to remove dust). They're flat ends produce a sharper, higher-pitch sound than sticks with cylindrical, rounded ends. Ondekoza also uses "bokuto", or wooden swords. They're very heavy, and difficulty to wield, but produce a much bigger sound than any typical taiko stick.

The same drum can produce a variety of sounds just by changing the size and type of the sticks you use. Each type of stick also allows for a new kind of playing style. So do some experimenting and have fun with the type of sticks you choose to use.

Check these posts for more bachi info:
How to Make Bachi Part 1 and Part 2

4 comments:

  1. The futon tataki idea is pretty awesome and definitely fun to watch in the Ondekoza promo video you posted. I know some groups use a 'bat' or a single large bachi in pieces such as Zoku.. but how would you make sure that the drum wouldn't sustain damage? :)

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  2. The skins can take the hit. If they're of decent quality, as long as they don't get wet, hitting them with big bats or other heavy sticks shouldn't be a big problem.

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  3. Yamato uses some sticks that sort of look like riding crops or some other sort of short, flexible wip. They can be seen in this video

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gijoYucEaBU&feature=BFa&list=PLF207E2CD2794E7C2&lf=mh_lolz

    There's a close up of them about 18 seconds in.

    Are these a particular type of bachi or are these like futon tataki, something common that is being used because of the sound it produces?
    I keep returning to this blog and every time I find new things. There's a huge amount of great information here. Thank you so much for sharing it with us all.

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  4. I'm actually not sure what's being used in that video. Anyone out there who knows?

    A similar type of bachi to what it looks like they're using is bamboo 'shinai' (or bamboo swords used in kendo). They can be used as is, or stripped thinner to make light bachi.

    The futon tataki are used for their sound, they give a sharp *smack* like sound, and they're length, flexibility and weight make them suitable for the style of playing.

    They're all kinds of things that could be used as bachi, and they'll all produce a different sound it, so it's definitely worth it to try experimenting with stuff outside of the regular rounded wooden sticks.

    Sorry couldn't be of much help, but thanks always for reading!

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