Drumstick sizing - a brief history and development of La BackBeat sizing
Hopefully I may be able to clarify a bit about the numbers relating to drumstick models and sizing. Essentially the current drumstick naming system has become convoluted (extremely confusing) through the last few decades. When the major manufacturers (Leedy, Ludwig, Capella) of the early and mid 20th century came up with the system, it made pretty good sense. When it all started, the smaller number meant a larger diameter drumstick... generally speaking. Then came the A, B, D, or S that followed behind that number. The A= all purpose/orchestra, B=band(think concert band), D='dance' band, S=Street(marching) which also indicated a diameter difference of that number to the corresponding drumstick.
Through the past several decades, many of the drumstick model names fell by the wayside due to their decline of use in the demand for those drumstick models. Then drumstick manufacturers started placing nomenclature (model names/sizing) on stick sizes that didn't have a lot of clarity. For instance, a 1A is between a 5A and a 5B by one manufacturer while another manufacturer may call this a 55A (think 5.5A in between a 5a and 5b) then there is the 85A (more like 8.5A) that is in between the 5A and 7A. An 85A is not smaller than a 7A. Then you have the issue of all manufacturers not making the same diameter model size. For instance, a 5A diameter equivalent is .565" by VF, .570" by Vater and .550" by Pro Mark. (there are even variations in their own product lines) This runs the spectrum of all the majors models. This is all very confusing and does not make sense.
Everything I have explained so far only pertains to drumstick diameter and does not take into consideration drumstick taper, tip style, wood type, or weight. These are all topics that could, and will, be elaborated on more in depth.
I should also mention something experience has taught me. That is... pitch does not indicate weight at all. It is very common to have a spread in gram weights (light to heavy) and each individual weight grouping will vary in pitch from low to high.
I have played drums 40 yrs of my life, 30 of them professionally, and it took me nearly 2 decades to figure out a lot of what is going on with drumstick model nomenclature and sizing. I was as perplexed as many of you. When I started La BackBeat drumstick company in 2012, I realized the nomenclature, sizing system, for stick models was messed up and decided to utilize the actual diameter in thousandths of an inch in the model name. This would allow a drummer, or myself, to go to a major makers drumstick size and compare the size their model to a drumstick that La BackBeat made that would closely match. This only applies to diameter. Yes, La BackBeat (LaBB) does have some prefix and suffix letters, however they are clarified in those item descriptions and I will work on clarifying more in related information.
I hope this helps shed a little light on the topic of drumsticks and their naming system.