November 2015 Posts

Gift Ideas – Part 1

Welcome back to the Chops blogs! Today we’re going to begin a brief series on holiday gift ideas. With the holidays rapidly approaching it’s time to think about a gift for the percussionist or drummer in your life.

Today we’re going to look at some of our favorite accessories that are cheap and practical.

#1 – Sticks and mallets

Believe it or not, a drummer and percussionist can never have too many sticks or mallets!

As we’ve discussed here many times, every drummer and percussionist will have their own stick and mallet preferences, so ask them before making a purchase. Different brands often use the same or similar model names, so be sure to ask for a specific brand and model. For instance, while every drum stick manufacturer makes a “5A” model stick, your drummer might prefer brand X’s model over Y.

If you are purchasing mallets for a percussionist, consider expanding their collection. Consult our guides for the beginner and intermediate percussionist.

Drum sticks – $5-$20 per pair
Mallets – $10-$50 per pair

#2 – Drum keys

Drum keys are a crucial tool for drummers and percussionists, regardless of their experience or area of specialty. We carry many different models, including standard, ratcheting, and marching keys.

Pictured here are (left to right):
Pearl marching key
Gibraltar drill bit key
Ludwig ratcheting key
Pearl standard key


Price: $2-$20

#3 – Stick or mallet bags

Every drummer and percussionist also needs a bag to carry their sticks and mallets. We carry bags that are small and simple, to bags with many pockets that can carry dozens of mallets.

Pictured here are (left to right):
Chops stick bag (small, for drummers and beginning percussionists)
Innovative Percussion mallet bag
Vic Firth stick bag and backpack combo (stick bag attaches to the backpack)


Price: $10-$80

#4 – Drum heads

Just like drum sticks or mallets, every drummer and percussionist will appreciate new drum heads. Even the best, most durable head will eventually wear out and need replaced.

Unfamiliar with drum heads? Here are couple terms you should know:

Batter – top head, struck by the stick or mallet
Resonant – bottom head, not struck by the stick or mallet
Size – the diameter of the head, measured in inches (14”).

Like we discussed with drum sticks and mallets, be sure to know the specific brand, model, and size of drum head. If you are unsure of the size of the drum, measure it with a tape measure, or bring it with you to the store.

Price: $15-50 per head

Giving a gift to a drummer or percussionist doesn’t have to be expensive! Drum sticks, mallets, drum keys, bags, and heads are important, but inexpensive items that every drummer and percussionist will appreciate. Please contact us to purchase any of these items or help finding another gift!

Bands Of America 2015

Welcome back to the Chops blog!

Over the weekend marching bands from across the nation gathered at Lucas Oil Stadium to participate in Music For All’s Bands of America Grand National Championships.


On Wednesday evening the competition began with the Indianapolis Marching Band Tournament. The following schools from across the city participated:

Arlington Community H.S.
John Marshall Community H.S.
Northwest Community H.S.
Crispus Attacks Community H.S.
Broad Ripple Magnet H.S.
Shortridge H.S.
Emmerich Manual
George Washington Community H.S.
Key Learning Community H.S.
Arsenal Technical H.S.

The Marian University Marching band also performed the national anthem, and closed the evening with an exhibition performance.

The championship competition began on Thursday morning and continued through Saturday evening. Indiana was well represented with the following schools participating, in order of Prelims performance:

Monrovia H.S.
Homestead H.S.
Southwestern H.S.
New Palestine H.S.
Avon H.S.
Ben Davis H.S.
Carmel H.S.
Triton Central H.S.
Lawrence Township H.S.
Center Grove H.S.
Lake Central H.S.
Goshen H.S.

Congratulations to the following bands who made Semi-Finals:
Ben Davis H.S.
Lawrence Township H.S.
Homestead H.S.
Center Grove H.S.
Lake Central H.S.
Avon H.S.
Carmel H.S.
Goshen H.S.

Congratulations the following bands who made Grand National Finals:
Avon H.S. (2nd)
Carmel H.S. (5th)
Homestead H.S. (12th)

For full results, please visit

We’d like to congratulate all the schools that participated. We enjoyed your performances and look forward to seeing you again next year! Enjoy some well-deserved time off!

ISSMA Marching Band State Finals

The team at Chops Percussion would like to congratulate the students, staff and parents of all the participating schools on another exciting marching band season!   It’s amazing to witness the hard work and dedication that goes into putting a marching show on the field, the organization of getting to contests (or hosting contests) every weekend, and the teamwork of working together to improve week by week to be the best they can be.  State finals is where the hard work pays off, coming from the field in the form of incredible performances of energy and emotion.  One of the best things to see is the display of emotion in the tunnel after a great final run!
Congratulations to everyone involved with performing and constructing these shows, along with all the support staff who made it possible for the students and staff to do what they do!

ISSMA State Championship Results – Lucas Oil Stadium, November 7, 2015

Class D
1) Forest Park
2) Springs Valley
3) South Spencer
4) Triton Central
5) (tie) Crawford County
5) (tie) Paoli
7) Monrovia
8) Mater Dei
9) Woodlan
10) Tell City

Class C
1) Western
2) Fairfield
3) Lewis Cass
4) Beech Grove
5) NorthWood
6) Concordia Lutheran
7) Edgewood
8) Scottsburg
9) Vincennes-Lincoln
10) Twin Lakes
11) Angola

Class B
1) Concord
2) Greenwood
3) Northview
4) Jasper
5) Floyd Central
6) North Side
7) F.J. Reitz
8) Northridge
9) Bloomington North
10) Munster

Class A
1) Avon
2) Carmel
3) Homestead
4) Castle
5) Lake Central
6) Lawrence Township
7) Penn
8) Center Grove
9) Ben Davis
10) Goshen

What Mallets Does My Student Need? – Intermediate

Welcome back to the Chops blog series on mallet FAQs (frequently asked questions). Last month we addressed the mallet needs of the beginning band and orchestra student. Today we’re going to discuss the needs of the intermediate student.

After several years in band or orchestra your student will need to expand their mallet collection as the music they perform requires an expanded selection of instruments. While your student will be able to continue using the mallets they already have, many of these new instruments, such as marimba, vibraphone, timpani, and accessory instruments, will require unique mallets.

For both marimba and vibraphone, the intermediate student can normally get by with one pair of mallets for each instrument. We recommend a “medium” mallet that will work well in most situations. Both styles of mallets can also be used on suspended cymbals.

Our favorite “medium” marimba mallets include:
Innovative Percussion – IP240, Soloist series
Mike Balter – 13B or 13R (B indicates birch shaft, R indicates rattan shaft)
Pro-Mark –DFP730, Dan Fyffe marimba series
Vic Firth – M171, Multi-Application series

Those mallets are pictured here.


Our favorite “medium” vibraphone mallets include:
Innovative Percussion – RS251, Rattan series
Mike Balter – 23R or 23B (R indicates rattan shaft, B indicates birch shaft)
Pro-Mark – DFP920, Dan Fyffe marimba series
Vic Firth – M187, Multi-Application series

Those mallets are pictured here.


To understand the differences between marimba and vibraphone mallets, please read our previous article here.

The intermediate student will also start learning timpani. For an experienced student learning timpani for the first time, a “general” mallet will satisfy most requirements. This style mallet will not be too hard or soft, and will allow the student to perform most music reasonably well.

Our favorite “general” timpani mallets include:
Innovative Percussion – GT3
Mike Balter – T3
Pro-Mark – JH5
Vic Firth – T1

Those mallets are pictured here.


As we’ve said many times, mallet and stick choices are a matter of personal choice, and every student will have a different brand and model preference. Also, be sure to consult with the student’s director, percussion instructor, or private teacher before making a purchase. Please contact us for our recommendations or assistance finding mallets.

As your student progress from an intermediate to advanced percussionist, their mallet collection should continue to grow. Stay tuned, next time we’ll be discussing the mallets an advanced percussionist should own.