The PaGu Process™
When I started making batons in 2007 it was important to learn how and why we as conductors choose the batons we use. I then started my own research project by which nearly 400 conductors were measured and given 5 batons to choose from. What we learned is that nearly 90% of the time conductors chose a handle that was about the size of their thumb and a stick length that was about the length of their forearm. From that point forward, we have fitted thousands of conductors with our system yielding much success.We build our batons to order to allow for each musician to determine for themselves where the balance point should be based on the size of their hands, how they were taught, what types of groups they conduct, and many other factors.
As you go through this process, you may want to have a ruler, paper, and pen handy.
1. The Grip- How do you hold your baton:
The way we hold our batons is based on a few factors:
- Who taught us
- Batons that we have had access to
2. The “Fit”- Choosing the right handle:
The contour, length, and width of a baton handle are important for comfort. PaGu Batons offers a wide variety of handles that are designed for different hands and grips. Use our measuring system to find the right handle for you.
FYI: In 2014 we introduced our first flat-spot baton which is changing the way we think about the shape of a baton handle. When conductors feel a flat-spot baton, they choose them 10:1 over all other models.
Side note: If you find a shape you like, but the size is not quite right, you may choose our Maestro Service which allows you to design or change any handle to your specifications.
3. Length of Shaft- Choosing the correct shaft length:
At PaGu Batons, we build our batons to your personal specifications, therefore we do not sell batons based on overall length. Our process takes into consideration both the shaft length based on your forearm and the handle based on your thumb to give you an instrument that is customized to your anatomy allowing you to adjust for your specific situation. The shaft is what the ensemble sees.
Measure your forearm at a 90 degree angle (palm up) from the elbow to the center of the palm. This will give you your forearm length. This will be the length of your baton shaft without the handle.
For your consideration:
- If you conduct groups larger than 70 members add 1” (2.5 cm)
- If you are a choral conductor or work with groups with less than 40 members subtract 1” (2.5 cm)
4. Balance- Deciding where you want your balance point:
Perhaps the most critical part of building a baton is the balance point. This will give the conductor the perception of a baton being “heavy”, “light”, “responsive”, “dead”, and other adjectives we’ve heard over the years. Ultimately, the balance will directly impact the music making experience for the conductor. You don’t want to think about the baton, you just want to be an extension of yourself.
At PaGu Batons, we specialize in balancing the baton at the optimal spot for complete control allowing the conductor to be free from thinking about the baton when making music.
Use the chart below to determine where you would like the balance point on your baton. The numbers represent where the baton would balance or float. This chart is not exactly to scale but is a good representation:
- 1” (2.5 cm) up the shaft to put all the weight in at the tip of the baton. This for folks that like to tuck the handle deep into the palm which pushes the fingers further up the shaft. It is also great for those who hold the baton basic fulcrum but want a lot of weight at the tip. First, we add 1” (2.5 cm) to your forearm length, then we place the balance 1” (2.5 cm) forward of the handle to transfer the weight of the Baton to the tip of the shaft.
Basic with tip weight
- 1/4” (6 mm) up the shaft for folks with large hands (1” (2.5 cm) or wider thumb width) who hold onto the shaft and want it balanced on their index finger. OR conductors with smaller hands (less than 1” (2.5 cm)wide thumbs) who like a bit of tip drag when holding basic fulcrum.
- balanced where the shaft meets the handle. This is the most common configuration. If you grip the handle behind the collar this will give you a little tip drag.
Behind the collar
- 1/4” (6 mm) back from the shaft onto the handle is for those who hold the handle and want the instrument balanced on their index finger or if you hold it on the shaft it will put some weight in the palm of your hand making the baton feel heavy.
- This will put all the weight of the instrument in the palm of your hand. No tip weight.
Other Considerations when building a baton
The woods we use a variety of exotic and domestic species to craft our baton handles. Each species has its own weight, density, and moisture content. The woods we use can range from 9 pounds per square foot to 90 pounds per square foot. The woods used for our handles are not only aesthetic but primarily function as counterweight to the shaft. Therefore, the wood chosen for the handle is extremely important to achieve proper balance. If the wood selected by the conductor will not balance properly, PaGu Batons will contact our clients with alternative wood choices.
New Shafts and finishes!
As of August 1, 2021 a year's worth of investment, research, and development allows us to introduce the following changes:
- PaGu Batons Super Shaft! A laminated wood shaft that is up to 70% stronger than our standard birch.
- Perma-White finish- resistant to fading, impervious to hand acids, will not yellow over time. Brighter than our previous bright white finish.
- Carbon Fiber is now available with our Perma-White finish providing us with the confidence that they will not easily chip or wear prematurely.
- All wood shafts are 3/16" (4.8 mm) in diameter while carbon fiber is a little thinner.
- New industrial finish on our handles to keep them looking their best longer
Note: We do not work with fiberglass shafts as this material can produce painful glass shards if you run your fingers over a frayed section of the shaft, particularly if you tend to tap your baton as a metronome.
We believe that if you took the time to order a baton from us, then you probably want to use it. That’s why we warranty our batons for 1 year against breaking or warping. No questions asked. When a baton is sent to us for a repair, we sand it down and put a new finish on it and send it back “like new”.
Cases:In order to protect your baton we strongly recommend a sturdy case for it. We have designed all of our wooden and leather cases to provide both elegance and maximum protection. Be leery of leather or fabric style cases that depend on the batons to keep the case stiff. That’s only going to warp your batons over time.
Which case you select will depend on you. If you want one to leave on your desk, then a wooden one would be great. If you are a traveling conductor, then a Maestro triple leather case will be a great selection. For the beginning conductor or teacher who only has one baton but needs to carry it in their bag, then a single leather case would be ideal.
It’s not easy to find a messenger bag that will hold your baton case and a professional 17” (43.2 cm) long score. PaGu Batons has what you need!