Handles, handles, handles...
Have you ever wondered how much depends on the material and surface treatment of the handle of marimba mallets? We often get mallets from around the world for repair. I've held countless well-known brands and "noname" mallets in my hand in recent years, and I've gained a wealth of experience with mallet handles. To fill in the gaps, I would like to summarize these experiences for you.
Most marimba mallet handles are made of birch, which is a standard wood with the right flexibility / durability ratio. In contrast, one of the most unique features of Ashkatan malets is the carefully selected mountain maple handle. But why?
In the beginning, we ran into a lot of difficulties because of my own personal stubbornness: I wasn't happy with the standard feeling of birch mallets, and I wanted to experiment with other materials at all costs. - to provide an alternative for percussionists looking for new directions.
Initially, I tried the typical material of "cheap" mallets, beech, but this was discarded very quickly due to its rigidity. Then came the popular cedar, but its durability is weak.
Eventually, I stopped trying materials from other manufacturers and read through dozens of studies on the density and flexibility of wood materials. As a result, I decided on mountain maple after several experimental sets: all of this happened six years ago, and maple handles have been working so far ever since.
Surface treatment was also a difficult question: at the beginning I walked into a professional paint shop with a big "bouquet" of marimba mallet in my hand and asked the question:
"What material are these coated with?"
I then tried the possible surface treatment materials one after the other. But something was very confusing from the beginning: the professional marimba mallets I used so far either SLIDED from the sweat or SINCE BROWNED AND WEARED VERY SOON. Feeling familiar, right? If the laquer is too thick and strong, the mallet will fly out of your hand when you start sweating in the spotlight. Otherwise (if the handle is natural enough not to slip), after a few months it will look as if it is rotting.
Finally, a friend of my instrument collector gave me an advice. He recommended a combination that seemed to contradict all logic, but was incredibly effective: to this day, we use this technique. The composition of the combination - the materials, the thickness and order of application, as well as the drying times and the amount of polishing - is of course secret;)
I want to share some tips with you about the handle of the mallets:
When buying a marimba mallet, consider the following factors:
- Are you sweaty? Do you usually slip your hands in a concert situation?
- Do you like tennis grip? This fashionable coating works for many people, but in some cases it can be very uncomfortable.
- How important is durability to you? Do you accept better mallets, even if it wears out sooner?
AND THE MOST IMPORTANT:
- Is the manufacturer curious about your opinion? Do they give you a chance to replace your mallets if you are not satisfied with the quality, feeling or flexibility of the handle? Can you send them a message directly? Will they be considered if an "anonymous" percussionist writes their experience for them?
Price is for 1 pair (two pieces). Sound: hard Level: advanced Material: mountain maple, bamboo yarn Instrument: marimba, vibraphone Tips for use: on the higher part of the marimba, with piano accompaniment, on vibraphone in chamber music Ship from: Hungary, Europe Price in USD: $27.90 / pair
Price is for 1 pair (two pieces). Sound: medium hard Level: advanced Material: birch wood, rubber, turkish merino wool Instrument: marimba, vibraphone Tips for use: on every octaves of the marimba, for solo pieces or with piano accompaniment, for hard pieces, best for 4 mallets playing Ship from: Hungary, Europe Price in USD: $27.90 / pair
Price is for 1 pair (two pieces). Sound: hard Level: advanced Material: high quality american birch, bamboo yarn Instrument: marimba, vibraphone Tips for use: on the higher part of the marimba, with piano accompaniment, on vibraphone in chamber music Ship from: Hungary, Europe Price in USD: $27.90 / pair
Price is for 1 pair (two pieces). Sound: medium Level: beginner, student Materials: mountain maple, acrylic, rubber, cotton Instrument: marimba Tips for use: for younger students and beginners. Very durable. Ship from: Hungary, Europe Price in USD: $20.00 / pair
Price is for 1 pair (two pieces). Sound: hard Level: beginner Material: mountain maple, rubber, cotton, acrylic Instrument: marimba, vibraphone Tips for use: you can use it on the higher part of the marimba, on vibraphone, or you can practice on xylophone with these mallets Ship from: Hungary, Europe Price in USD: $20.00 / pair