August 2015 Posts

Mallet FAQs – Marimba VS Vibraphone

Welcome back to the Chops blog! Today we’re going to continue our series on mallet-related frequently asked questions (FAQ) by explaining the difference between marimba and vibraphone mallets. While they are very similar in appearance, and can sometimes be used for the same purpose, there are significant differences in marimba and vibraphone mallets.

The differences between marimba and vibraphone mallets begin with the materials used in their construction. The head of both style mallets contain a rubber core, but the material wrapped around that core varies. Marimba mallets use a softer yarn than vibraphone mallets, which use cord. The harder cord and rounder shape of the mallet head allows the mallets to produce a clear sound from the metal bars of the vibraphone.

Note the differences in appearance between the Vic Firth marimba and vibraphone mallets below. The M1 on the left is a popular marimba mallet. The M25 vibraphone mallet on the right was designed by Gary Burton, the world’s foremost vibraphonist.

marimba-vibe-mallets

Another important difference between marimba and vibraphone mallets is the material used for their shafts. Both are commonly available in birch or rattan, but marimbists and vibraphonists have different preferences. Marimbists typically prefer the rigidity of birch shafts, while vibraphonists favor rattan. Its flexibility is better suited to vibraphone techniques like mallet dampening.

In addition to their respective instruments, both mallets can also be used to play suspended cymbals. In fact, they are preferred over timpani mallets, whose wood cores can be damaged and destroyed by the vibration of cymbals.

If marimba and vibraphone mallets are very similar, can they be used for the same purpose? Yes, but only in certain circumstances. The soft yarn heads of marimba mallets limit their volume, and therefore effectiveness, on the vibraphone. However, vibraphone mallets can be used on the marimba for a clear, cutting tone. Jazz musicians who play both instruments simultaneously often choose vibraphone mallets for this purpose. In this video, Dave Samuels, with the Caribbean Jazz Project, uses vibraphone mallets while soloing on the marimba and then comping on the vibraphone.

Advanced percussionists, such as high school or collegiate students should own both marimba and vibraphone mallets. Serious soloists will have several sets in varying styles and hardness (see our previous mallet FAQ on marimba mallet hardness) available in their mallet bag.

We hope this guide has helped you understand the difference between marimba and vibraphone mallets. Please contact us for assistance choosing mallets or for recommendations. See you next time!

Opinion: Carriers are uncomfortable!

Welcome back to the Chops blog! Today I’d like to address a concern we frequently hear at this time of year: uncomfortable carriers.

Carriers

As the marching band season begins, students often suffer through the first several weeks when they are commonly out of shape, and unprepared to carry the weight of a marching drum. Combine that with the intense, all day schedule of a band camp and you quickly have a miserable student. Weak shoulders, backs, and legs are punished by the weight of the drum.

After suffering the shock of a heavy drum, concerned parents often contact us seeking relief for their student. However, before investing in expensive alternatives, I recommend that your student endure the first weeks of the season and develop strength in their back, shoulders, and legs. The more time your student spends marching and wearing their drum, the more their body will be accustomed to the weight. By the end of the season your student will barely notice the weight, and will be able to wear their drum for hours at a time.

However, if your student is still suffering a month into the season, contact us and we’ll discuss options that might work for some relief.




August News at Chops

If you aren’t signed up for our Chops Transmission emails, you may be missing out on the most update happenings around the store.  Below is the August edition of the transmission.  If you don’t receive our emails, you can sign up here!

DCI Wrap-Up

Blue Devils - DCI

We had a great time at DCI Championships last week! Thanks to everyone who came by the Vic Firth booth. We had a great time catching up with many of you and hope you had a great time watching the incredible performances throughout the weekend.

Congratulations to all performers, staff members and volunteers on a great drum corps season!
Here are the official scores from the DCI website.


Back-To-School Supply Lists

School Supply Lists

Attention Educators!

We’re gathering school supply lists to make it easier for your students and parents to get what they need for school! Send us your required supply lists for your various classes and ensembles and we’ll post them on our website as a quick reference for your students to find what they need!


Demo Gear/Clearance Items – August Updates

Demo Gear at Chops Percusssion

We have accumulated some more items recenty that fall into the Demo category. There are some fantastic deals on this list. Make sure you check it out ASAP. First-come, first-served!

View the entire list on our website.


Drum Set and Marimba Rentals

Keyboard rentals at Chops Percussion

Don’t forget that we have a great line-up of percussion instrument rentals to help take your students to the next level. We have drum sets, marimbas, and xylophones available.

Check out the full lineup on our website.


Planet Waves Cables In Stock!

Planet Waves cables always in stock at Chops Percussion

Now’s a good time to take stock of the cables you use and make sure they’re all in good working order. If you need new cables or would just like to have extra cables for backup, let us know. We always have a good variety of Planet Waves cables in stock. Give us a call to see what’s currently here and we’ll get them out to you ASAP!

View all the cables we have in stock.




2015 DCI World Championships

cadets

Welcome back to the Chops blog.  We’re busy gearing up for the Drum Corps International (DCI) World Championships this week, held right here in Indianapolis!  It takes place all this week, at Lucas Oil Stadium and surrounding areas.  The competition inside Lucas Oil isn’t the only thing to see.  There are many events throughout the week, most of which are free and open to the public!

Here’s our basic guide to help you take in some of the action.

Drum Corps Competitions

Monday, August 3:    Open Class Prelims – Ames Field (Michigan City, IN)
Tuesday, August 4:   Open Class Finals – Ames Field (Michigan City, IN)
Thursday, August 6:             World Class Prelims – Lucas Oil Stadium
Friday, August 7:       World Class Semi-finals – Lucas Oil Stadium
Saturday, August 8: World Class Finals – Lucas Oil Stadium

Ticket prices vary by event.  See DCI Tickets for details.

See the DCI day-by-day guide for more information.

Individual & Small Ensemble Competition
Wednesday, August 5, 10am-5pm
Georgia Street
Free!

DrumLine Battle
Saturday, August 8, 11am-3pm
Georgia Street & Pan Am Plaza
Free!

Corps Warm-Up Zone
The show before the show!  Get up close to your favorite drumline or front ensemble as they warm-up and prepare for their performance.
Daily, Thursday-Saturday, depending on the contest schedule
-Military Park (Drumline warm-ups)
-Parking lots around Lucas Oil (Front Ensemble warm-ups)
Free!

Corps Rehearsal Sites
Watch your favorite corps rehearse before they head to Lucas Oil Stadium.
Various schools and other locations around Central Indiana
Free!

We have a list of rehearsal sites for the week, but they are not official.  Please visit the DCI website and consult the individual corps sites for more information and detailed schedules.

Unofficial Rehearsal List (pdf)

DCI Website Rehearsal/HousingList

Come visit us at the Vic Firth booth!

We’ll be running the Vic Firth booth, so if you’re attending any of the events inside the stadium, make sure to stop by and say hi!  We’ll also have special show pricing on Vic Firth sticks, practice pads, stick bags, t-shirts, and many other items.  It would be a great time to try some out all the Vic sticks and pads and take something home!

 

For more information on events, schedules, venues, ticket sales and more, visit the DCI Website.

If you go, let us know what you think on our Facebook page! If you wear a Chops Percussion shirt, post a pic with one of the drumlines in the background to our Facebook or Twitter page!