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.
- Blunt tip, armored with a cyanoacrylate coating.
Eight models are offered in four lengths: 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. The stix are now 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 upper photo shows the 15, 14, and 13 lengths marked with the old system, currently labeled 151, 141, 131. The black & yellow motif is the current production. The other two were made for personal use.
On my 20″ BG drum with mylar heads, I use a 14-soft (141). A Bulgarian who borrowed that same drum for performance instead chose 15-stiff (153) instead.
I also offer lightweight hardwood beaters – 32 cm, 80 g – sized for BG playing. The earlier stock (above) was peach wood – the current production (below) is blackwood acacia. In response to user request, the beaters now have a slightly wider and heavier tip, for better “punch”. The next production run may also include 35 cm beaters, for those who prefer a longer reach.
Starting in October 2022, sticks are $10, and beaters $18. Shipping and handling within the US is a flat $8 for small-to-moderate sized orders.
The fiberglass is ground by hand, using frequent micrometer checks.
BUYING MORE – checking the flex grade
If you have an older stick and suspect that the white rings are gone, here’s how to tell them apart: The stiff (3) has a shank the same diameter as the tip (apart from the cyanoacrylate coating). In the two grades with a reduced shank, the soft (1) is just as flexible under the yellow grip as in the shank.
If the glass fibers become exposed, please repair immediately! On 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 mostt users, but a few high-speed technical drummers may notice the minuscule additional inertia. If you are one of those special people, I can supply them with reduced tips. I am also open to other customizations – let’s discuss.
Beaters have an attractive finish that reveals the natural wood grain. Examined closely, you may notice some scratches left over from the shaping.
In North America, these tupan sticks (and now beaters) have been used in bands playing Balkan brass, Bulgarian, Greek, and Turkish music. They are also popular among occasional players and students.