Mallets Posts

Stick and Mallet Packs for the Beginning Percussionist and Beyond

Welcome back to the Chops blog. Today we’re going to cover the different options available for stick and mallet packs.  There are great options for starting a young percussionist, as well as expanded packs for the intermediate student.  These sticks and mallets should last for many years and can be used at every level (beginner, intermediate, high school, college and beyond).  Our most popular packs requested by schools are from Vic Firth and Innovative Percussion.  Both make great quality products you can trust.  A young percussionist should start with one of these packs, then add to it as they progress through their percussion education.

I’ve broken the packs down into four categories: Basic packs, Core packs, Intermediate packs, and Expanded Core packs.  The quality is the same with each pack.  The difference is what is included in the different levels of packs.  The more you get now, the less you’ll need to add on later.

What Mallets Does My Student Need – Advanced? – FAQs

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

As an intermediate student reaches their senior year of high school, they should own mallets for marimba, vibraphone, timpani, and various accessory instruments. As they continue to progress, and eventually approach an advanced level, it is critical they have a wide variety of mallets available for those instruments.

As we’ve discussed many times before, mallet preference is dependent on the individual percussionist. As an intermediate student gains experience they will develop their own preference for brands and models. The following recommendations, therefore, are general.

For the glockenspiel (bells) and xylophone, the advanced student should at least have a hard and soft mallet choice. Plastic is the most common material for these mallets but other choices such as hard rubber or wood or hard rubber exist. For the glockenspiel, a metal mallet, either brass or aluminum is occasionally needed for the most bright and piercing situations.

For the marimba, vibraphone, and timpani the advanced student should own a set of mallets in varying hardness, from very soft to very hard. The brand and models do not need to be consistent across the set, but should represent a wide variety of choices. Advanced students literature will commonly hold different mallet styles while performing modern four mallet marimba literature.

Finally, for accessory instruments, the advanced student should consider owning mallets for bass drum and gong. A medium, general purpose mallet for each instrument will generally suffice. For concert bass drum, a pair of smaller, “rolling” mallets is useful. Other implements, such as brushes, rods or rutes, and a set of triangle beaters are also needed.

With a large variety of mallets available, the advanced student can perform well in any situation. If you, or your student are considering studying music, or performing after high school, it’s time to expand your mallet collection. Contact us for guidance, or to purchase mallets.

Until next time, go practice!

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.

Marimba-mallets

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.

Vibraphone-mallets

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.

Timpani-mallets

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.

What Mallets Does My Student Need? Beginners – FAQs

Welcome back to the Chops blog series on mallet FAQs (frequently asked questions). Today we’re going to answer one of the most common questions we receive: what mallets does my beginning band student need?

When your student enrolls in band as a percussionist, their director will have a requirement for the sticks and mallets they will need. These requirements normally include synthetic mallets for bells and xylophone, drum sticks and a stick bag. They may also include yarn mallets for marimba and vibraphone.

Mallets for bells (also known as glockenspiel) have a birch or rattan shaft and a synthetic head, usually made of plastic or rubber. For beginners, birch shaft mallets would be recommended. Many brands and models are available, but we recommend the following choices. These are also the standard mallets available in beginner stick/mallet prepacks.

Plastic and Rubber Models for Bells and Xylophone:
• Vic Firth M14 (plastic), M5 (rubber)
• Innovative Percussion F12 (plastic), F8 (rubber)
• Mike Balter BB11 (plastic), BB8 (rubber)
• Pro-Mark DFP640 (plastic), DFP230 (rubber)

01-plastic-rubber-mallets

Mallets for marimba and vibraphone have a birch or rattan shaft and a yarn or cord head. In addition to the marimba and vibraphone, these mallets can be used on other instruments such as suspended cymbals. Again, many brands and models are available, but we recommend the following yarn models for beginners.

Yarn Models for Marimba and Vibes:
• Vic Firth M2, M3
• Innovative Percussion F1.5, F2
• Mike Balter BB2, BB22
• Pro-Mark DFP730

yarn-mallets

In addition to mallets, your student’s director will require a set of drum sticks. Our most popular choices for beginners include:

• Innovative Percussion Lalo Davilla
• Vic Firth SD1
• Pro-Mark SD1

Those models are pictured here.

sticks

Mallet and stick choices are a matter of personal choice, and every director will have a different brand and model preference. Always check with them first before making a purchase. Please contact us for our recommendations or assistance finding mallets.

As your student progresses from a beginner to an intermediate and advanced percussionist their mallet collection should grow as well. Stay tuned, next time we’ll be discussing the mallets an intermediate percussionist should have.

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!