While you’re shopping for a new stick you might notice that the stick displays two different lengths on it. For example, it might say “96 cm (Total 107cm)” or it might have 100cm in white and 111cm in a different color. In this article I’ll attempt to explain why that is and why I think it’s pointless.
The traditional way of measuring sticks has always been shaft length. That means just the length of the shaft without taking the blade attached to it into account. At some point in the near past we started seeing this second measurement printed on the label of the stick due to an IFF requirement. What this second measurement means is the total length of the stick and blade as one. On the surface that may sound like a better system since it attempts to more accurately tell you the length of the stick you’re looking at, but it actually complicates everything.
First off, it’s more complicated because blades are different sizes. The Fat Pipe Hole blade is very small compared to the Exel Megalomaniac. If you were to take one of each of those sticks (both will a 96cm shaft) and put them next to each other, you’d find that the Exel stick is taller than the Fat Pipe stick even though they would both be marked as 107cm.
Next we have to look at how the sticks are assembled. It’s as simple as attaching the blade to the shaft and screwing it in, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that all the blades fit on the shaft the exact same way. Sometimes they’re easy to assemble because it slots right in all the way, but other times it’s a pain and might even require a heat cut to soften the plastic a bit before it can be assembled (and usually just far enough to get the screws to bite). It might not sound like much, but there can easy be a centimeter of difference between two stick of the same manufacturer using the same shaft and blade combination.
Neither of those things seem like that big a deal, but when you combine them you see that the “total” stick length can potentially be very inaccurate. The reason I prefer the traditional length system is because a 96cm shaft is always 96cm regardless of what blade you put on it or what company produced it. Shaft length is a perfectly appropriate starting point for anyone looking for a specific length, and it’s up to them to take the blade into account.
My advice for looking at stick length is to ignore the “total stick length” measurement (or whatever number listed is larger) and only look at shaft length. In my opinion the lengths are more of a guideline than a hard rule. Choose something that feels appropriate for you without stressing about what all the numbers mean.
For any questions or comments feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.