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View Full Version : I'm new to the marimba/xylophone/vibes world! So introducing me. Also advice please?



Artisan
07-22-2011, 10:22 AM
Hey guys!

I'm a drummer, (grade 7 trinity, lot of performance experience in so many styles), and an orchestral player (timpani & percussion as well).
I thought, that doing that side of things, although fun, wouldn't stand me in as good a stead as i could be, later on, as i'd love music to be a very bug part of my career. So i have invested in piano lessons as well. I have also got the xylophone to play tuned percussion, as having as many skills in my 'toolbox' is only a good thing. It could lead to me being selected over someone else etc... Also from the theory point of view, i think 'tis a wise decision.

I've just got a xylophone, 3.5/4 octaves.
I've also got 'primary handbook for mallets' and goldenburg's book 'modern school for...'

I need mallets... I don't want anything too specific, and want two pairs at most really (different hardnesses etc...) Can you recommend me some? What are vic firth's like?
Nothing to expensive or top of the range, but fairly decent please!

Just introducing myself here really, i'd like to get to know some of the other tuned perc. players on this forum! 'tis great fun, and i've been to see several percussion ensembles/quartets, and loved most of the marimba pieces.
:)
Angus.

David Hollywood
08-02-2011, 02:35 PM
Hey, sorry for the late response. I haven't been on the PDF much in recent weeks.

That's great that you're playing percussion. I'm happy to hear you are taking piano lessons as well, that will help you out a lot. It's good to learn the mallet stuff early so it's easier later in life when you want to do 4-mallet work. That's where the piano training really comes in handy. If you can read music and read a full staff and play mallets in High School you'll be ahead of a lot of people.

What type of mallets do you need? Xylo? Timpani? Marimba? I'd be glad to toss out some suggestions...

Artisan
08-07-2011, 10:51 AM
Thanks a lot for the comment.

Xylo mallets, that can also be used for marimba... That would be ideal. I've already got multiple sets of timpani!

David Hollywood
08-26-2011, 12:17 PM
Thanks a lot for the comment.

Xylo mallets, that can also be used for marimba... That would be ideal. I've already got multiple sets of timpani!

Well, the problem is the best material for the heads of xylo mallets is hard rubber or soft plastic. The best heads for marimba are yarn wrapped. You really need different sets of mallets for the different instruments. You could use your marimba mallets on a vibe, but I would suggest something else for xylo so you get enough cut and projection. They do technically make "hybrid" mallets that you can use for both. Vic Firth M228 and M229, designed by Ney Rosauro. Those could be used on a xylo, marimba or vibe. I do have some thoughts on some mallets for each instrument...

For marimba I would suggest any of these:
Mike Balter 213B
Innovative Percussion IP240
Encore NZ3B or NZ4B

For xylo I would suggest any of these:
Malletech BB34
ProMark Tom Freer FK4 or FK6
Innovative Percussion IP902
Innovative Percussion OS1

Artisan
08-26-2011, 01:14 PM
Well, the problem is the best material for the heads of xylo mallets is hard rubber or soft plastic. The best heads for marimba are yarn wrapped. You really need different sets of mallets for the different instruments. You could use your marimba mallets on a vibe, but I would suggest something else for xylo so you get enough cut and projection. They do technically make "hybrid" mallets that you can use for both. Vic Firth M228 and M229, designed by Ney Rosauro. Those could be used on a xylo, marimba or vibe. I do have some thoughts on some mallets for each instrument...

For marimba I would suggest any of these:
Mike Balter 213B
Innovative Percussion IP240
Encore NZ3B or NZ4B

For xylo I would suggest any of these:
Malletech BB34
ProMark Tom Freer FK4 or FK6
Innovative Percussion IP902
Innovative Percussion OS1

Thanks again for your advice! Which of those you suggested, is best for xylo and best for marimba? Which would you choose?

They're so expensive! :(

David Hollywood
08-29-2011, 02:11 PM
Thanks again for your advice! Which of those you suggested, is best for xylo and best for marimba? Which would you choose?

They're so expensive! :(

No problem. In general, Mike Balter mallets are a little less expensive. They are still high quality mallets and Mike is a great guy to work with so I might stick with Balter if you can find them without too much trouble. My favorite marimba mallets are the Balter M213B from his Choral Series. I just like the slightly longer handles because I'm a guy and I'm about 6'1 so I like to have larger mallets. The Encore NZ3B are fantastic as well. These are all about "mid range" in terms of price, if you get into Marimba One mallets you could be looking at $60 per pair or more. They're great mallets but you really have to pay!

My favorite xylo mallets are the Malletech Bob Becker BB34. When I was in college, those were THE xylo mallet. They're blue. They're sometimes called the "Becker Blue Mallets". Those are probably my favorite. If you just need something good that's less expensive check out the Mike Balter 5R or 6R from his Unwound Series. You can also get those in birch (5B and 6B) if you don't like rattan. I've always liked the more stiff birch handles for marimba and bells and the more flexible rattan handles for vibes and xylos. It's really up to you, whatever feels better when you play.

In general I think you'll find the prices are a little higher in the concert world. The sticks are often made of a higher quality wood and can run a little more expensive and the mallets are never cheap if they're well made. Timpani mallets can be very expensive as well. Even the drums cost more. You can get an amazing drum set snare for $200-400 but if you want a really high end concert drum, you'll be looking at $500 and up due to the hardware, the multiple types snare units and the related strainers and the finish and make of the shells.

Just let me know if you have any more questions...

Artisan
08-29-2011, 03:23 PM
Yeah, i've realised that prices are generally higher in concert percussion! A basic timp almost costs as much as my kit! And some concert snares sound so good though... I've heard a Pearl one, and love it. I've never seen one 2nd hand to buy though... :(

Thanks again for your help advice, if I require help again in the future, I know who to ask! The birch handles are about 33% cheaper than the rattan over here, so i think i'll get them for my xylo, and then the marimba one's you suggested. If i can afford the extra bit, i'll get the rattan. I'll try and play with a few to experiment.

Go on then, as you asked, recommend some timpani mallets! I've got medium and hard percussion plus ones which are cheap, but do the job. I don't know if i need better ones, but... What do you think? It's mainly youth orchestras/windbands/percussion ensembles i'm playing in. It doesn't matter hugely...

I'd love to go to a music college, and so i think getting more into the tuned side of percussion is a good idea... Did you go to a music college? If so, can you give me a brief overview of what you did, how you found it, if it was useful etc.. I'd just like some opinions... I know it'll be a bit different to what i'd experience, but it gives me an idea!

David Hollywood
09-10-2011, 04:28 PM
Go on then, as you asked, recommend some timpani mallets! I've got medium and hard percussion plus ones which are cheap, but do the job. I don't know if i need better ones, but... What do you think? It's mainly youth orchestras/windbands/percussion ensembles i'm playing in. It doesn't matter hugely...


Well...

To me, the top of the line Timpani Mallets are the Cloyd Duff series. Those run about $50 a pair here in the USA. The most general models are:

Duff CD3 General Bamboo Cartwheel
Duff CD4 Medium Soft General Hickory Cartwheel

The bamboo shafts are expensive but they are popular due to how light they are. If you want something that is light like bamboo but more durable and consistent, you can go with the Black Swamp Carbon Fiber Series:

CF2 Medium Hard
CF3 General

Those are also about $50 a pair in the USA.

For some good, general timpani mallets that aren't as expensive I would say:

Vic Firth T1 General
Vic Firth T2 Cartwheel (soft)
Vic Firth T3 Staccato (medium hard)

Clevelander CDB4 Bamboo Medium Felt Ball

Innovative GT3 Medium

Those are all in the $25-35 range here in the USA and are still a solid product.

David Hollywood
09-10-2011, 04:32 PM
I'd love to go to a music college, and so i think getting more into the tuned side of percussion is a good idea... Did you go to a music college? If so, can you give me a brief overview of what you did, how you found it, if it was useful etc.. I'd just like some opinions... I know it'll be a bit different to what i'd experience, but it gives me an idea!

Well, I started playing the drums when I was about 2 years old. I got some basic lessons from my father who was a music teacher on how to hold sticks but other than that I was self taught until I was in High School. I played the trumpet in school, I just played the drum set outside of school in various bands. In High School I took about 6 months of jazz lessons so I could play in Jazz Band.

I went to a private Liberal Arts College here in the Midwest. I started as a Trumpet Performance Major but changed the Psychology and Percussion Performance. I learned marimba and timpani and vibes and all the other Concert Percussion instruments and continued playing drum set. I wish I had learned some marimba or another keyboard instrument before college, that would have made things a lot easier.

I would say right now you should focus on your marimba playing and timpani playing as that will be extremely important in college. Learn to read music and try to work up to doing some 4 mallet work on the marimba. Be as well rounded as possible in Concert Percussion and try to read as much as you can.

Artisan
09-11-2011, 01:44 AM
Awesome. Okay, thanks a lot again for your advice. I can't say enough how much i appreciate it! You're really helpful!

I'll probably get one or two pairs of the vic firth timp mallets, and two pairs of marimba mallets. I shall see what funds allow! I need some rutes and a new stick bag as well.

nathanieljobe
09-12-2011, 04:50 PM
As David has said, you really do need different mallets for different instruments. You REALLY don't want to go hitting something designed for a soft mallet with a hard mallet and something designed for a hard mallet will sound weak when struck with a soft mallet. Yes, mallets are expensive but you get what you pay for. Think of it as the bow of a violin. There are bows out there that cost thousands and violins that cost hundreds. If you want the best sound from your new xylo, get some mid-priced, more common xylo mallets, test drive them, and see what you'd prefer for the next purchase. By then, your technique and style will have opened up and you'll be ready for mallets that are more specific to you personally.

A little story, since this thread reminded me--a buddy of mine in college brought his own personal marimba to campus and stored it in the music department where I worked. We swapped positions as kit drummer in the jazz ensemble and he let me play the marimba a few times. I really remember one show in particular--after the performance, as we were tearing down (drums were the last thing to go) we starting trading licks on the drums and marimba and he showed me the Burton grip (which I then started using on drums in a series of "Insect" studies--4 arms, 2 legs, attempting to embody the tempo, speed and style of beetles, mantises, ants, etc. [I was watching a lot of Kung-Fu movies and eating fungii...]);anyway, the place had about emptied out and folks were just milling around outside, drinking wine and coffee when we starting trading licks and swapping instruments. Foks started mingling back in and we sort of ended up doing an impromptu drums and marimba concert for about 10-15 minutes. We had an absolute blast. I'd love to add a xylo to my kit but I've already grown tired of chants of "PEART!" when my band started playing out this year...

gaffro
09-12-2011, 06:06 PM
Bit late, but I thought I'd chime in! I'm guessing you're from the UK because you do Trinity grades ("where do you want me to be?" isn't really a very useful indicator :p). I played a fair bit of tuned perc when I was back in England and got most of my stuff from http://www.bellperc.com/ who do pretty good prices on things. I'll definitely agree with the others that you need different mallets for different things, first time I bought mallets I think I spent about 120 just on 4 or 5 pairs, not including marimba mallets which can be more like 30 or 40 a pair, maybe more depending how much money you have! I've always bought Chalklin sticks for good prices and good build, just personal preference, and I also prefer rattan handles for xylophone and vibes but birch for marimba, not sure why though. If you want to cut corners you can get something like the Chalklin MS03 or BS03 (MS is rattan handles, BS is birch), they're intended for glock, but they're fine for bits of xylophone use too, just a bit too light weight so they're not the best, but usable. Just for xylophone I always like the harder sound of rosewood mallets, I think those are MS09 or BS09.

In terms of timp sticks, I think I did quite well with Sean Hooper series. The student models aren't bad at all considering they're under 20 a pair (I think...). I can't remember exactly which models I went for because I don't play timps all that much and my stick bag is back in London so I can't check, but I remember getting one really soft pair, one quite hard pair, and one medium pair. To be honest, you can go on his site, find his number and ring him and ask what he'd recommend, that's what I did, he's a knowledgeable guy and happy to help.

Just because you asked about music college, I might as well chime in on my opinion on that too. I personally didn't go for it because there aren't many that are as good for kit players, but I did look around them when I was planning on taking trumpeting more seriously than drums/perc and I have a lot of friends that go to music colleges. They are great if you're happy to practice a lot and very hard, the people I know that are willing to do 4 or more hours practice a day are the people who are doing very well for themselves, but I have a lot of friends who found it too much stress and ended up dropping out and going to uni to do music instead. Personally, I opted for a music performance course at uni rather than music college, so I'm doing the BMus degree at Leeds, because it's a pretty good halfway point, there's enough performance and enough academic stuff to keep me happy, and I'm currently on my year abroad at the University of North Texas, which is awesome. A friend who's here with me is a tuned percussion player who was going to go for music college courses, but ended up doing the same as me, not sure why.

So yeah, just thought I'd chime in, hopefully I've helped a little bit!

Artisan
09-13-2011, 01:52 AM
Thanks a lot for your reply! Really appreciate it. It's not a bit late at all!

What do you to in music performance at uni then? I need to starting considering options very soon really. Anything you can tell me about it would be useful!

gaffro
09-13-2011, 09:55 AM
Thanks a lot for your reply! Really appreciate it. It's not a bit late at all!

What do you to in music performance at uni then? I need to starting considering options very soon really. Anything you can tell me about it would be useful!

Well I can only really say about Leeds, I've never bothered asking any of my friends about their courses haha. To be honest first year is a bit pointless, you do one performance at the end of each semester and just have lessons for the rest of it, but there's loads of performance opportunities around in orchestras and musicals and things, particularly for percussionists because there aren't many of them :p second and final year are a bit different, you do performance classes where you do small recitals 2 or 3 times a semester to the rest of the people taking performance in your year and you still do a performance at the end of each semester. If there's a chance to do a year abroad or anything I'd seriously recommend it too, they're pretty awesome.

Only thing about doing performance at uni is it only counts for a maximum of a 3rd of your degree, the rest has to be academic stuff, most of which is awesome, some of which is just long and annoying haha. But then I'm sure wherever you go there's always boring parts to a degree, can't all be fun!

Artisan
09-13-2011, 11:40 AM
That's fine, they won't be to dissimilar, i suppose.

And what is the academic stuff then? Theory etc?

David Hollywood
09-13-2011, 12:54 PM
Excellent posts! I'm happy we're finally having a real Concert Percussion discussion!

gaffro
09-13-2011, 02:07 PM
That's fine, they won't be to dissimilar, i suppose.

And what is the academic stuff then? Theory etc?

Yeah there's theory like harmony and counterpoint exercises, composition, history (involves essays, only part I didn't like), in the first year you do science of music too. Then in second year you can do all sorts of other things, it's pretty broad, worth looking into, it'll all be on the website I'm sure :)

Artisan
09-13-2011, 02:10 PM
Yeah there's theory like harmony and counterpoint exercises, composition, history (involves essays, only part I didn't like), in the first year you do science of music too. Then in second year you can do all sorts of other things, it's pretty broad, worth looking into, it'll all be on the website I'm sure :)

Thanks a lot. I shall check out the website. That's a really useful insight. :)


Excellent posts! I'm happy we're finally having a real Concert Percussion discussion!

Wahay!

funkpunk
12-31-2012, 12:32 AM
I love the Pro-Mark Nick Petrella Mallets. They have a felt head on the harder side and an aluminum shaft towards the top for playing triangles, or anything else that requires a harder surface. They sound great on a marimba.

Ronnie G
02-25-2013, 08:51 PM
I graduated from music school last May and I quite enjoyed my experience there. I learned lots about theory, practice habits, and performance. I personally took it upon myself to do more drumset and marimba study than anything else. I enjoyed timpani and snare drum, but drumset and marimba interested me the most, so that's what I focused on. I was a drumset person even before college, and my studio professor's telling us that drumset players are pretty much the only performers who can make a living was not lost on me. All of the theory and aural skills training definitely came in handy for doing band rehearsals--with a strong theory and performance background, you can easily find band leader gigs.

For my day job, I'm a band director, and I love it almost as much as I love playing. Teaching is a great option career-wise for a music grad. Plus, it allows you a good bit of time to gig on the side if that's your think.

As for mallets, I am a BIG fan of Marimba One marimba mallets. The weight is perfect, and the sound is superb. Close runners-up are the Nancy Zeltsman mallets from Encore. Plan to spend a little money on your marimba mallets--they'll last you as long as 5 years with proper care. For xylo, the James Ross IP902 mallets from Innovative are very good and very versatile.