July 2015 Posts

Vic Firth – Musician, Businessman, Legend

The music world lost a legend this week with the passing of Vic Firth.  If you don’t know a lot about him, an interview that he did with CBS Sunday Morning in 2010 does a great job of telling how he got started and why he’s been so successful.

“The key word for me is persistence. Whatever you set out to do…you have to have a magnum passion to do it…and you’ve got to work beyond what you ever dreamed you’re going to work…to succeed at the level that you want to succeed at. Persistence…persistence…persistence.” – Vic Firth


Mallet FAQs – Marimba Mallets

Mallet FAQs: Marimba mallets

Welcome back to the Chops blog! Today we’re going to begin a series of posts on mallets. With the large variety of brands, applications, and styles available, purchasing mallets can be very confusing for non-percussionists and non-musicians. We frequently answer questions about mallets such as:

  • “Why does my student need these mallets when they already have several pairs?”
  • “What is the difference between these mallets?”
  • “What does my student’s teacher recommend this mallet and brand over others?”
  • “Can I use this mallet for this instrument?”


In this series we’ll attempt to answer some of the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) we receive about mallets.


We’re going to begin with marimba mallets. The most common marimba mallets consist of yarn wrapped around a rubber core, which is attached to a wood or rattan handle. Other styles, including rubber, are available, but yarn is the most common.

Yarn mallets are commonly described in terms of their “hardness” or articulation. “Soft” mallets have a large yarn head and produce a round, gentle tone in the mid to low range of the instrument. “Hard” mallets include a smaller head with less yarn and are better suited to the upper range of the instrument. Between hard and soft are a wide variety of “medium” mallets. Some brands include many models in this range, from “medium hard” to “medium soft”.

Compare four different mallets from the Innovative Percussion Soloist series in the photo below. From left to right:

  • IP200 – medium soft
  • IP240 – medium
  • IP275 – medium hard
  • IP300 – hard


Notice the differences in the shape and size of the mallet head.


Experienced percussionists and marimba soloists should have several sets of mallets, from soft to hard, available. Students purchasing their first set of mallets for marimba should consider a medium mallet that will work well on the entire range of the instruments. Here are some recommendations for the beginner:

  • Innovative Percussion:  IP240, F1.5
  • Vic Firth:  M212, M3
  • Mike Balter: 13B, BB2
  • ProMark: DFP730

We hope that this brief introduction will help you understand the difference between marimba mallets. Stay tuned, we’ll have another mallet guide here shortly! Contact us for additional guidance or to purchase mallets.

Farewell Rhythm Devils

OPINION: Farewell Rhythm Devils


2015 marks the 50th anniversary of one of the most celebrated rock and roll bands in American history, The Grateful Dead. To celebrate, and close their legendary career, the surviving members gathered to play five final concerts, dubbed “Fare Thee Well”. As we look back on rock and roll’s “longest, strangest trip”, we’d like to highlight their renowned drummers, the Rhythm Devils.

Bill Kreutzmann formed The Warlocks in San Francisco in 1964 with Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh, Bob Weir and Ron “Pigpen” McKernan. They quickly gained a strong following in the bay area, and in 1965 renamed themselves The Grateful Dead. Two years later Kreutzmann invited percussionist Mickey Hart to sit in with, and eventually join the band.


Kreutzmann and Hart were a perfect match and quickly became one of the defining sounds of the band. Together with bassist Lesh, Kreutzmann formed the rhythmic base for the band while Hart added more complex, decorative parts to the mix.

Kreutzmann and Hart earned their nickname of “Rhythm Devils” in the 1970s as they began playing drum solos during Grateful Dead concerts. Their extended solos were largely improvisation, and featured a large variety of percussion instruments. In addition to their drum sets, Hart and Kreutzmann played various hand drums, electronic instruments, and unique, custom made instruments.


In this Rhythm Devils solo, recorded during a Grateful Dead concert in the summer of 1989, they feature a talking drum, timbales, several large bass drums, and a unique string instrument called “the beam”.

While Kreutzmann and Hart are most recognized as members of The Grateful Dead, they both have active solo careers. After attending a Grateful Dead concert, renowned film director Francis Ford Coppola enlisted Kreutzmann and Hart to record their improvisations for the soundtrack to Apocalypse Now.

Mickey Hart is also recognized as an influential figure in ethnomusicology, the study of music throughout the world. As he toured with The Grateful Dead, Hart collected instruments and recorded and documented the music performed by the local people. Hart would also form several important percussion groups, including the Diga Rhythm Band. His 1991 album Planet Drum was awarded a Grammy for Best World Music Album, and his book Drumming at the Edge of Magic: A Journey into the Spirit of Percussion is regarded as a classic work on drums and ethnomusicology.


While The Grateful Dead and the Rhythm Devils will not perform together again, they leave behind an extensive library of audio and video recordings. We recommend the following recordings and books:

American Beauty, The Grateful Dead
Workingman’s Dead, The Grateful Dead
Live/Dead, The Grateful Dead
Drumming at the Edge of Magic: A Journey into the Spirit of Percussion, Mickey Hart
Planet Drum, Mickey Hart
Diga, Diga Rhythm Band

The best way to experience the Rhythm Devils, and The Grateful Dead is a recording of a live concert. There are many official releases, but countless “bootlegs”, or audience recordings, are legally available for free on the internet using BitTorrent.

Farewell Mr. Kreutzmann and Mr. Hart, we’re thankful for everything you did for rock and roll, drums, percussion, and ethnomusicology!

Can I Payoff My Instrument Rental? – FAQs

pearl-export-2013Did you know you can pay off your instrument rental contract early and save!

If you choose, you may pay off your instrument balance in full and save 40% off your remaining balance. You can do this at anytime during your contract. There is no penalty for paying your instrument off early.

To do this, please call our accounting office at Paige’s Music by calling 1-800-382-1099.

You can also complete this process online on the Paige’s Music website. Please refer to this earlier post that explains how to make a payment on our website.

As always, please give us a call if you have any questions.