What Are the Different Types of Percussion Mallets?

Percussion mallets come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but most fall into one of two categories: unwrapped or wrapped. The hardest mallets are unwrapped mallets, which are often nothing more than a firm object attached to a stick; some are made of wood, while others are made of metal or nylon, but all are designed for a firm strike. These are best for long-lasting instruments that won’t be damaged sharp edges or tough materials. Wrapped mallets, on the other hand, have a muffled sound. When it comes to what mallets are wrapped with and how dense that wrapping is, there is a lot of variation. Specifications for different instruments and players are frequently different. Both types of mallets come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Choosing the right one is usually a matter of personal preference as well as considerations such as instrument scale registry; in some cases, the size and weight of the mallet has a greater impact on the overall sound produced than the wrapping.

Basic Mallet Techniques

A percussion mallet is a tool that consists of a head and a stick that is used to create sound striking drums or other percussion instruments. The head is usually a firm sphere or rectangle mounted on one end of the stick, which resembles a standard drumstick and can be made of a variety of materials. Various mallets produce a wide range of sounds. Some instruments come with mallets that are specifically designed for them, but musicians must usually choose these tools separately. Knowing some of the most common options can make the process go more smoothly and result in better outcomes.

Unwrapped Case Studies

Unwrapped mallets are among the most basic. These have heads made of hard materials like nylon, rubber, or wood that have been sanded to a smooth finish but aren’t wrapped or covered in anything that could dull their impact. They’re used on instruments that are extremely tough and won’t break or warp when hit with a hard object. Some of the most common instruments are the xylophone and the glockenspiel.

Models in Wraps

Wrapped mallets are built on the same basic model as unwrapped mallets, but the biggest difference is that the head has a little — or a lot — of material covering it to dull the sound and cushion the impact with the instrument, depending on the circumstances. The most common coverings are cord, yarn, or latex, though cloth and even dipped rubber can also be used. These mallets are frequently used to play the vibraphone and marimba, which have softer keys that can be damaged if struck too hard. The suspended cymbal can also be played with wrapped versions.

Scale Registry’s Importance

When looking at the various types of percussion mallets, one of the most important factors to consider is the register of the scale of the instrument. Mallets can change the sound’s timbre, or quality. Thicker and softer ones are preferred for lower registers, while thinner and harder ones are preferred for higher registers.

Consideration of Hardness and Weight

The contact sound is also affected the hardness and weight of the mallet. If the player wants very clear notes, such as staccato, he or she should make a lot of contact with the instrument. Less contact produces a legato or smooth sound. Softer versions, on average, make less contact than their harder counterparts.

Many musicians think about the overall quality of reverberations. In most cases, a heavier head will produce a louder sound, whereas a lighter mallet will produce a much softer sound. A harder head is usually used when notes are intended to cut through all of the other instruments in a group. Similarly, a soft but heavy mallet can produce a very loud and full vibration.

Individual Preferences and Choices Play an Important Role

In the end, the choice is largely determined the percussionist. As a musician develops, he or she will learn new techniques, and his or her preferences may shift over time. Most musicians are more concerned with the sound produced mallets than with product names or general characteristics.