Bob Koch's Sticks

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Richard Hatch
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Bob Koch's Sticks

Postby Richard Hatch » March 14th, 2017, 1:33 am

I want to thank Danny Orleans for his detailed review of the "Koch Sticks" in the March issue (p. 105), which brought this prop to my attention. I thought I had the "ultimate" sticks in George Millward's fine sticks, but the review convinced me that these might be a significant upgrade so I ordered them and received them within a week and have been playing with them for a few weeks now. I do prefer them to the Millward set (also sold under the name "American Sticks" from Bob Kohler with Scott Alexander's commercial routine) and thought I would do a quick comparison for anyone considering a set and not sure of the differences. There is, of course, a difference in price: The Millward sticks come in a set of three (like the Koch Sticks) for $325 (http://www.enigmaeffects.com/) whereas the Koch Sticks are $495 (http://kochmagic.com/). Offsetting this price difference a bit, the Koch sticks come in a very nice wooden carrying case (or display case for collectors) and come with two sets of tassles (small and large). The "American Sticks" version of the Millward set is $399.99 (http://bobkohlermagic.com/products/magicproductslist/americansticks/americansticks.html for just two sticks, plus a bonus tassel on a reel for the Scott Alexander finish, but it also comes with 86 minutes of downloadable instruction and the performing rights to Scott's handling. Neither the Millward or Koch versions come with a routine, but as Bob points out, there are many routines available, including the classic Roy Benson handling detailed in Levent's wonderful book, Roy Benson by Starlight, published by Todd Karr's Miracle Factory. The Benson book appears to be out of print from the publisher, but other dealers might have copies, such as Denny Haney (http://dennymagic.com/store/roy-benson- ... -used.html) or the used book dealers (Andy Greget, Byron Walker, I checked the H & R Magic Book site and didn't see a listing there...). In any case, here is a side by side comparison that may help: Both the Millward/American Sticks and the Koch Sticks are 11" (about 28 cm) long by 7/8" (2.22 cm) square. The Millward sticks are made of wood veneer on square aluminum tubing, with a brass weight inside and weigh about 3/4 pound (about 0.34 kg) each. The Koch sticks are made from from solid Jatoba (Brazilian Cherry) with no veneer or laminates, and weigh just 3/8 pound (about 0.127 kg). I like the lightness of the sticks and really like the all wood exterior (I have no idea how Bob Koch makes these, as there are no seams visible where he must have inserted the weights!). I purchased my set of the Millward Sticks second hand, and they do show some wear to the veneer around some corners. Not anything the audience would notice, but it bothers me, and this could not happen with the Koch Sticks. Some performers seem to feel that minimizing the tilt of the sticks is important and probably for some routines it is. In a side by side comparison, I'd give the Millward sticks a slight edge, measured by speed of retraction of the string at the same low angle of tilt. I also like the somewhat thicker string used on the Millward sticks, which would make the string more visible onstage. But I'd have to give the award for silence of action to the Koch Sticks. Although both sets are very quiet, the Koch Sticks are nearly noiseless, which could be important under formal close up conditions. Both sets come with drilled screws at the back end for the Benson gag with the string and Bob details a couple of handlings that he has developed with his sticks that may not work as well with the Millward sticks (I haven't tested that aspect, sorry!). The Koch drilled screws are plastic and he gives you an extra pair (in case you lose them or to expedite reset between back to back shows!), whereas the Millward screws are brass. I'm partial to the brass, but can live with the plastic! The Koch sticks also have jump rings on each end of the strings, and jewelry clips on the tassels, making it very easy to change tassels, as needed. For collectors, the each Koch Stick has a set number stamped nearly invisibly near the inner end and on the box. My set is #10.

Bottom line, you really can't go wrong with either set, both have cosmetic and actually differences, and if you need a routine, the Scott Alexander "American Sticks" handling is a great place to start and very well taught in the video. I'm glad I have both sets, but I do consider the Koch Sticks an "upgrade" and look forward to using them in upcoming performances. Thanks, again, to Danny Orleans for telling me what I needed to know to make my buying decision!

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Q. Kumber
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Re: Bob Koch's Sticks

Postby Q. Kumber » March 14th, 2017, 9:21 am

Thank you for the review. Very interesting.

I have a set of the Millward sticks and am very happy with them. One thing mine will do, I discovered, is allow the string to lengthen all on its own, which is handy to be able to do when you want to show both long.

For close-up work I have a set of the Grant sicks sold by Fantasma Magic.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hfkxfsGoeWs

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erdnasephile
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Re: Bob Koch's Sticks

Postby erdnasephile » March 14th, 2017, 9:58 am

Hi, Richard:

Great practical review! Thanks!

Question: What kind of plastic are the screws in the Koch sticks made of? Are they durable appearing? Are they replaceable with a more sturdy screw? Do you happen to know if Millward sells a single stick to those who already have the American Sticks?

Richard Hatch
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Re: Bob Koch's Sticks

Postby Richard Hatch » March 15th, 2017, 1:04 pm

Quentin, the Koch Sticks also allow the lengthening by gravity alone of the string in a single stick. One advantage of my set of Koch sticks versus the Millward's is that the weight in the Millward's makes a sound if it hits the outer end of the stick with sufficient force, which the Koch sticks don't.
Erdnasephile, the plastic screws in the Koch Sticks are sturdy black plastic. Aside from preferring the brass screws of the Millward Sticks, I like the fact that they are flatter, presenting a slightly lower profile than the plastic screws of the Koch Sticks. They could certainly be replaced if you are handy with such things, as they screw into a brass base which I assume takes a standard size screw (but smaller diameter than the Millward screw...).

Richard Hatch
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Re: Bob Koch's Sticks

Postby Richard Hatch » March 15th, 2017, 1:09 pm

Incidentally, one nice bit of business you can do with the gravity lengthening of the string is to do it as the back string (in the screws for the Benson gag) is cut. Just prior to this, with the Koch sticks (possibly also possible with the Millward sticks, I haven't tried it) you can have the front string retract as you extend the string in the back (an advertised feature of the Koch Sticks, mentioned in Danny's review). I think both these touches should really help sell the idea that the string in back is "how it works".

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erdnasephile
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Re: Bob Koch's Sticks

Postby erdnasephile » March 16th, 2017, 3:52 pm

Thanks, Richard-- I was playing around with the Millward sticks last night--that gravity move is indeed pretty noisy with them at the end unless you are really careful.

Bob Koch
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Re: Bob Koch's Sticks

Postby Bob Koch » April 4th, 2017, 7:52 pm

The black plastic screws I use are high strength nylon. I chose to use cap screws because they are easy to unscrew with your fingers, no tools or coins required. If someone wants brass, round head or cap screws, I can do that for them.


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