I make fiberglass tupan sticks (switches). Perhaps you have seen and heard them at performances. They feature:
- Choice of length and flexibility.
- Non-slip grips.
- Identical blunt tip, armored with a cyanoacrylate coating.
Currently eight models are offered in 16, 15, 14, and 13 inches. The 16 and 15 come in three grades of flex (“whippiness”): soft, medium, stiff – based on the amount of fiberglass removed from the shank. The 14 and 13 come only in soft. In current production, the stix are labeled with a model number that indicates length and stiffness. For example, 153 indicates the stiffest 15 stick. The old system used white rings below the yellow grip. The most flexible had two rings, the medium one, and the stiffest no ring.
The photo above shows the 15, 14, and 13 lengths – in the new system: 151, 141, 131. The black & yellow motif is the current standard production. The other two were made for personal use.
On my 20″ mylar BG drum, I currently prefer to use a 14-soft 141. But a Bulgarian professional who borrowed my drum for performance chose 15-stiff 153 instead.
I also offer lightweight hardwood beaters – 32 cm, 80 g – a size suited for Bulgarian playing. The earlier stock (above) was peach wood – the current production (below) is blackwood acacia. As a result of feedback, the beaters have a slightly wider, heavier tip, for a better “punch”. The next production run will also include 35 cm beaters, for those who prefer a slightly longer reach.
Starting in Octoberr 2022, sticks are $10, and beaters $18. Shipping & handling within the US is a flat $8 for small-to-moderate sized orders.
Sticks are ground by hand, using frequent micrometer checks.
(how to judge the flex grade of a stick that has lost its rings): If you have an older stick, and suspect that the white rings are gone (less likely to happen with current construction), here’s how to check: The tips of soft (1) and medium (2) are noticeably thicker than the exposed shank, however, the soft is just as flexible under the yellow grip as in the shank. Only the stiff has a shank the same diameter as the tip (apart from the cyanoacrylate armoring on the tip.
If the glass fibers ever become exposed, please repair immediately! For the shank, use lacquer (the original finish) or shellac. On the 3/4″ tip use cyanoacrylate (‘Crazy Glue’).
The wide/blunt tip is favored by nearly all users, but a few high-speed technical drummers may notice and be put-off by the minuscule additional inertia. If you are one of those special people, I can supply them with reduced tips (but not tapering). Likewise, I am open to other customizations – let’s discuss.
Beaters have an attractive lacquer finish that reveals the natural wood grain, but the finish is NOT furniture grade. Examined closely, you may notice scratches left over from the shaping – but they are still MUCH smoother than the Bulgarian beater that came with my personal drum.
In North America, these tupan sticks (and now beaters) are being used in bands playing Balkan brass, Bulgarian, Greek, and Turkish music. They are also popular among occasional players and students.