I stopped over my brother’s house today for a Rock Band jam session to test out The Ant Commandos Illuminated Drumsticks. These drumsticks work with the Rock Band drum set and should work with the Rock Band 2, Guitar Hero World Tour and Rock Revolution drum sets. The Illuminated Drumsticks are different from the standard wooden drumsticks you get with Rock Band in that they light up and glow either red or blue every time you hit the drum pad. They are also clear, made of acrylic, and thicker than the standard drumsticks, but does this make them better?
Well, the answer to the above question is unfortunately, no. The concept behind the Illuminated Drumsticks seemed cool and I was interested to get them for review, but right after I pulled them out of the box I was concerned about how they would perform and hold up to the constant drumming while playing the game. I played around with them a little at my house drumming on my son’s play drum just to see how they would light up. Right out of the package the one stick didn’t seem to light up as well as the other.
I was concerned about the one sticks lighting mechanism and my concern was justified, since only after about an hour or two of playing with them on and off at my brother’s house the one stick quit lighting up. I took it apart to find that the one small capsule piece had come unsoldered and was now rattling around in the stick. The Illuminated Drumsticks also rattle even before a piece is broke inside them. The Ant Commandos state that the drumsticks are coated with silicon to help reduce the annoying thumping noise made by the standard wooden drumsticks, but they rattle instead which is just as annoying.
The sticks are thicker and have a rubberized handle that is supposed to be more comfortable and provide a good grip, but I noticed them slide around more in my hands than the wooden stick. After you start to play your hands may sweat and cause the stick to slide forward and back while drumming. The Illuminated Drumsticks are also heavier than the default wooden sticks, which isn’t that bad, but may cause your hands to fatigue quicker while playing.
I am worried about how well the acrylic drumsticks will hold up over the long haul. I am not a drummer, but I don’t think I have ever seen acrylic drumsticks for real drums and there is probably a reason for that. Another bad thing about the Illuminated Drumsticks is that they cost $20. Granted, they are supposed to light up and entertain your friends while you play, but they cost at least double what a normal pair of drumsticks cost and don’t work as well. If you really want to spend $20 on drumsticks for Rock Band then I would recommend going to a real music store and buy a nice pair of sticks like real drummers use.
The Illuminated Drumsticks have a very fragile battery replacement process that requires you to use a paper clip to pull a metal strip and the two AAA batteries out of each drumstick. You have to be careful when putting the batteries back in and make sure the little metal strip wraps around the batteries or the stick will not work and the circuitry inside may get damage.
The Rock Band jam session at my brother’s house was a lot of fun and my brother, wife, son, and I were all jamming. We almost even convinced my brother’s wife to sing, but he could not find the microphone. But, the Illuminated Drumsticks did not make the enjoyment of Rock Band any better and my wife and I were swapping back and forth between the standard wooden Rock Band drumsticks and the Illuminated Drumsticks and both of us preferred the standard wooden sticks. I cannot recommend the Illuminated Drumsticks because of the high price, poor quality, and they don’t really add anything to the Rock Band experience. Besides, everyone is too busy playing the game to pay attention to drumsticks that may light up until they break after about an hour or two of play.
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