Drums, like all other percussion instruments, need special tools to be safely played. Although drumsticks are the most common tool used to play drums, mallets are perfect for when you need a louder sound or a cymbal swell. Every good drummer needs the best drum mallets in their kit so they can produce a variety of tones.
This article will discuss all the uses of drum mallets and answer questions like:
- What are drum mallets?
- What do you need to look for in a good drum mallet?
- What are the best drum mallets on the market?
Our Top 5 Drum Mallets?
- Shappy Bell Mallets Glockenspiel Sticks (Our Top Pick)
- Miwayer Rubber Mallet (Best Budget)
- Promark MT3 Multi-Purpose Felt Mallet (Best High End)
- Vic Firth American Custom Timpani
- REMO Mallet
What Are Drum Mallets?
Drum mallets are instruments used to strike drums and other percussion instruments so they produce a sound. They are similar to drumsticks and serve the same purpose, however, a mallet has a thicker handle and head than a stick.
Read Also: 3 Best Drumsticks for Electronic Drums
Since mallets are thicker than sticks, they are mainly used to produce loud sounds from the drums or are used for playing different cymbals.
What Are The Different Types of Drum Mallets?
Wrapped mallets have heads made of rubber, kevlar, wood, and other hard materials which are wrapped in a layer of softer material. This softer material may be yarn, wool, and even latex.
Wrapping the mallet’s head in a softer material makes it suitable for use on delicate instruments that have keys (think marimba), and a more delicate sound on cymbals. These are also used on drums because wrapping the head of the mallet prevents damage to the drumhead.
Normally, these mallets are used for large traditional drums, marching drums, or cymbals. However, you can use these on any basic drum kit too.
Read Also: 11 Best Electronic Drum Sets in 2021
Unwrapped mallets have heads made of wood, dense rubber, brass, and other hard materials. The head of the mallet isn’t covered, which is perfect for producing a clanging, metallic sound on instruments with hard keys (think glockenspiel).
While you could use these for drums, they could easily cause damage to the drum head, so we don’t recommend it.
How Do Drum Mallets Work?
Drum mallets work the same way drumsticks too. A player uses them to strike the drumhead which produces a loud sound that is perfect for processions and ceremonies. Mallets aren’t the best tool for playing classic drum kits, though they are often used for cymbals.
Expert tip: wrap the handles of the mallets in heavy-duty rubber tape. This will protect the mallet from damage if it hits the rim of the drum. It will also protect your hand from the mallet when it bounces back after hitting the drum.
Taping the mallet not only improves grip but since the weight is equally distributed, the mallet is easier to use and is less likely to slip out.
What Do You Look For In The Best Drum Mallets?
Drum mallets are normally used for cymbals, or in marching bands, where they are used to strike the drum to produce a loud sound. The mallet must be made of sturdy material to be able to bear these hard strikes.
Invest in a wooden mallet, because wood is durable and produces a warm sound. Oak, for instance, is a favorite amongst both consumers and producers.
Metal is also durable, but having to grip a metal rod for too long can cause strain on your hands. Wooden mallets are also light enough to be comfortable, but heavy enough to not be knocked out of your grip.
When buying a mallet for your drum, always choose one with a wrapped head. If your drum is sensitive, a yarn or wool-wrapped mallet will do just fine. However, if your drumhead is thick, choose a mallet with a rubber covering on the head.
You can even make your mallet by covering the head of a pair of drumsticks. Here’s a video that’ll help you do that.
Choose a mallet that’s too long or too short and it’ll be hitting the rim of your drum with every strike. We also recommend against a very long mallet because it’s hard to hang out to, especially when playing a kit. But the tool has to match the instrument – so if you are playing a marching bass drum, don’t shy away from the length.
Stay away from a very short one as that’ll prevent you from getting a good grip. Always check the size of your mallet with the size of your drum, or choose a size similar to your drumsticks.
Best Drum Mallets Reviewed
Sold as a pair, these wool-felt covered mallets are perfect for all sorts of percussion instruments. The handle is made of maple wood which resists breakage and provides the best grip. Wool felt covering for the head prevents the head from going flat, and the weight helps create strong sounds from the drums.
The mallet measures a total of 12.8 inches, with a 10.6 inches handle and a 2.2 inches head. Furthermore, the texture on the handle improves grip and prevents it from slipping out.
- Weighted head helps create loud sounds
- Can be used for multiple instruments
- Textured handle improves grip
- The handle may be too short for some players
Available in both 12.5 and 15 inches, the Miwayer mallet has a bamboo wood body, which makes it lightweight, and comes with a steelhead. The steelhead is covered in silicon which is perfect for creating warm sounds from percussion instruments.
The bamboo stick makes the mallet easy to grip, and the steel head provides the perfect force for each strike.
- Multiple sizes available
- The bamboo stick makes it lightweight and durable
- Steelhead may damage drums with thin heads
Promark is famous for its drumsticks, and its mallets too deserve the attention. The MT3 by Promark measures 18 x 0.25 x 10 inches and is made of Shira Kashi Oak, which is very dense. This gives the mallet weight that helps produce warm sounds, without having to increase the diameter of the stick.
The mallet’s head is covered in felt, which is perfect for both drums and other instruments like cymbals.
Read Also: 5 Best Electronic Drum Cymbals
- Produces nice, warm sounds
- The felt is not glued to the heads, so may slide down
Made of high-quality maple, the Vic Firth mallet measures 14.5 inches in length. The timpani mallets are sold in pairs, with round, wrapped heads that make warm and clear sounds on all percussion instruments. The wrapped head makes them perfect for drums with thin heads and allows them to be used on drum kits too.
The mallets are carved from one block of maple wood, which gives them stability and prevents anything from coming loose.
- Sold in pairs
- Can be used on sensitive instruments
- Can be a bit long for some drums
Constructed with plastic handles and rubber heads, this pair of Remo mallets is a customer favorite. The rubber head is wrapped in fabric, which makes it suitable for sensitive instruments, and makes it easier to clean.
The mallet’s handle measures 10” and the head is made of 40mm thick rubber. Combining the wrapped head and the heavy base makes it perfect for producing warm sounds.
- Perfect for sensitive instruments
- The rubber head produces warm, loud sounds
- The plastic frame isn’t as durable
Final Thoughts On Drum Mallets
Mallets are a specialized tool for your drum set. So, they are something you’ll need in addition to regular sticks, especially since they can produce a warmer and louder sound that some musicians and band leaders prefer.
If you’re investing in a drum mallet, be sure to get one with a good quality base and head. Mallets aren’t super expensive, so you can easily find an affordable one with good quality.