Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Heat Shrink Solution

I dropped by a local drumstick maker to say Hi and to get caught up on recent developments. They'd added a new stick to their line-up, which I rather liked, but I thought it might benefit from a rubberized grip. Well, they had one in stock. Not one pair, just one stick -- a sample, I guess. I asked if they had any more. The shop’s owner grabbed a few sticks, sound-matched a pair for me and then had his technician put grips on them. I liked the result, and for a short time I had a pair of exclusive, custom-made sticks! 
In an unrelated excursion, I was cruising the aisles of an electronics store and came across a display of heat-shrink tubing. Now, the above-mentioned drumstick maker had switched to heat shrink grips to get away from the mess and chemicals involved in dipped type grips (kudos to John at I figured that I could use some of the tubing to bulk up a pair of brushes that I found too thin. The result was excellent, so I set about retrofitting a few sticks as well. I'm now totally addicted and have added the material to all of my sticks … even some mallets and timbale sticks.

The tubing comes in a lot of different diameters. I found the 3/4" to be ideal for most uses. The 1/2" is good for very thin sticks and/or brushes (or timbale sticks). The product comes in a variety of colours, so I've colour-coded the pairs. Just for fun, I pulled a couple of worn out sticks from the trash and wrapped these as well. Bonus: the sticks are now usable again. 

The material is easy to work with. You need to cut off a piece about half the length of your stick. Then you just slip it over the grip area and apply heat. I use a heat gun, but a candle will do. The tubes cost $4 for a four-foot length. Using a standard 8" length, I can cover three pairs of sticks at a cost of about $1.35 per pair. I’ve even made my own ‘blasticks’ and brooms.

Note that this is an electrical product. I don't know if it's hypo-allergenic, though my research didn’t point to any obvious problems. If you're sensitive to plastics, rubbers and synthetics, you may want to keep an eye out for any reactions.

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