Gear Review – Vic Firth Tala Wands
The Purple model is made of 11 bamboo dowels, is 15 15/16 inches long, and is .585 of an inch thick. its the thinner of the two and is more stick like than its yellow brother. Light and Whippy with a more focused sound, it’s like stick-lite. The use of bamboo was an interesting choice but it makes sense when you consider that practice kendo swords are made of bamboo. So we know that it’s a good material for making things with which to hit other things (and people) without causing them harm. As long as you allow the wand to rebound and release the kinetic energy from impact, they should put up with all the punishment you can dish-out. This model is perfect if you want a sound that’s in-between a rod and a stick (leaning towards the stick) in both sound and feel.
The Yellow model is more like your traditional rod, 12 birch dowels, 16 1/8 inches long, and .625 of an inch thick. The rods are more loosely compacted so you get more of that “BLAP” sound that I was talking about earlier. the problem is that if you’re going for that “BLAP” sound you’re going to have to fight the rebound of the wand. The quintessential “BLAP” sound comes from the rod hitting the drum and staying on the drum. Because the Tala Wand wants to rebound and you’re forcing it into the head, you’re going to get some tiny little rebounds before the wand comes to rest. These little rebounds are the same thing as “beater farts” (Dave came up with the name, not me) but on the topside of the kit. It is possible to get a nice “BLAP” sound out these yellow Tala Wands but it takes some practice. You do get a fatter sound then with the purple model but it’s not on the same level as regular rods. The rebound is slightly less than the purple model but it still kicks the snot out of regular rods. This model is still in-between rod and stick but it leans more toward the rod then its purple cousin
If you think that Tala Wands have all the pros and none of the cons of sticks and rods then you’re wrong. They are unique enough that I would classify in a league of their own. They are more similar to rods than sticks but the stick aspect of their design really comes through. They are meant to be played light and fast and don’t have much mass, so they are lacking in power. I’d recommend shallow drums and small & light cymbals when you play the wands because they lack oomph to get the bigger guys to sound. You really need to try them for yourself to figure them out, cause they are such unique animals. Don’t buy them thinking they’ll be just like rods but bouncier. It’s true that they are bouncy rods but they lose some of the their rod characteristics because of their lack of weight.
I give the Tala Wands as a set, 4 mics. I honestly believe that if they made a set of Tala Wands that was in-between the two current models it would be perfect. Unlike Steve Smith however, I can’t causally ask Vic Firth for something and have it produced as a signature model for me the next day… However! I can write a review, Email Vic Firth, and hold on to my dream.