Hooked Up – Custom Stix


posted 12/3/2010 by Dan Keener
other articles by Dan Keener
Multiple Pages Platforms: Multiple
Welcome to Hooked Up, the Gaming Nexus series that puts the spotlight on gaming related products that impact the Video Game experience. This week we take a look at Custom Stix.

What is it?
Custom Stix are high-quality USA Hickory drumsticks that feature custom artwork that can be used for any drumming application, including Rock Band and Guitar Hero game franchises as well as professional uses. The “custom” part of the name lets you utilize a combination of any number of graphics and text options (and images) to the drumsticks to personalize them. The company is owned by Jeff Jones, who is also a member (drummer) of the band Big Daddy Weave.

When I pulled the custom pair of GamingNexus flame drumsticks from the USPS mailer, the first thing I noticed (besides the sweet looking graphics) is that the sticks were identical in size and shape. Anyone that has ever purchased replacement sticks (or even the ones sent with the RB or GH Bundles) knows that this is not a common occurrence. The pairs I received had tips that were the exact same size and were perfectly centered. The sticks themselves were not warped, have blemishes or other thing wrong with them. I know this may sound silly to get excited about, but after using about seven other pairs of branded, replacement and stock drumsticks from the various band games this was like a breath of fresh air.

As far has how they worked, it took about half way through the first song to see that the quality of the stick made all the difference in the world when playing Rock Band. The sticks were balanced; the tips struck the drum kit the exact same way every time and I was able to develop a good rhythm using them. Just to see if they truly would help improve my score, I went back and played five songs that I had done pretty well on previously as a comparison. In all five cases, I increased my best score significantly, which I believe is related to a better quality stick being used.

One major concern I had going in was how well the graphics would handle lengthy use and whether the sticks would become slippery from moisture or start to wear off use. In both instances, my concerns were unfounded, as the sticks never slipped or felt slick when I was playing and the graphics to this day (after many, many hours of use) still look brand new.

Outstanding quality drumsticks
Graphics look sharp and do not wear off
Thicker and heavier than stock RB sticks

A touch on the expensive side at $29.99 for 2 pairs
Gaming Impact
Obviously, drumsticks are required to play any of the Rock Band and Guitar Hero franchise titles from the last few years. Unfortunately, the stock sticks sent with the games, and most official replacement and “branded” sticks are of poor quality, have stupid designs on them or have some sort of gimmick (light-up, rubber caps, etc) with them. Where Custom Stix blows these other guys out of the water is using high-grade drumsticks and a unique combination of design and technique to put a cool graphic on them that won’t come off. I discovered one simple thought process after using these, the better the quality of the drumsticks, the better I played.

The Skinny
Custom Stix not only have a unique and cool look, but they are high-quality drumsticks that should allow for improved gameplay. The pair of sticks that the company sent us to demo has been put under a lot of usage, but they have held up extremely well. The graphics still look new, there hasn’t been any loss of grip and the sticks themselves haven’t warped or lost their shape. With the cost about 2x higher than your normal replacement, this might not be on the radar as a replacement or upgrade from the bundled sticks. However, a combination of the custom graphic design options coupled with the high-end quality of the sticks should make this an option if you want to improve your gameplay and look cooler while doing it.

Miscellaneous Items of Note
-Minimum order of two pairs of identical design
-Constructed of USA hickory with a 5B wood tip
-Free shipping within two weeks
-Pricing, art requirements and other questions found in the Custom Stix FAQ
Testing Methodology
Custom Stix testing was performed with countless hours of drumming on multiple Rock Band gaming sessions on the Xbox 360.

Where to Find/Buy
Custom Stix can only be purchased in pairs online at Customstix.com starting at $29.99.

If you have a gaming related product or accessory that you would like to see featured in Hooked Up, please contact the Author regarding inclusion.

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.