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.