FAQ Posts

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!

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.

marimba

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.

ip-soloists

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.

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.

Do You Buy Back Used Instruments? – FAQs

Another frequently asked question we get is “Do you buy used instruments?”

We do buy back used instruments, but we don’t buy back everything. Before you bring your instrument in to the store, here are a few things to know:

1. There is no guarantee that we can make an offer to buy your instrument. Our offers are contingent upon many factors, including:

  • Condition
  • Age of the instrument
  • Make and model of the instrument (ie, has the model been discontinued?)
  • Current store inventory levels

2. If we are able to make an offer on your instrument, please note that it will be a wholesale price. Similar to trading a car in to a dealer as opposed to selling to a private party, we cannot offer the full market value of the instrument. As a general rule, our offers may only be about 50% of the current market value.

3. We may also take into account necessary repair work, cleaning, or other refurbishments that must be done to put the instrument in sellable condition. These deductions will also be reflected on any offers.

4. To sell an instrument to us, you must be at least 18 years old.  Although not required, preference will be given if we can verify that you or someone in your family is the original owner of an instrument that originally came from Chops Percussion/Paige’s Music.

5. If we make an offer on your instrument, a valid photo ID is required at the time of purchase.

6. No cash can be given for instrument buy-backs. Payments will be made via check, to be mailed to your address within 7-10 business days, or via account credit to be used for in-store purchases.

As always, please call us first before you come in. If we’re not interested in the particular instrument you have, it could save you a trip.

If you have any questions, please call 1-877-900-DRUM or email us at chops@chopspercussion.com.