MEDIA / LESSONS / Weight Vs Hardness

Weight Vs Hardness

For a manufacturer to controll the hardness of a mallet is easy. For a manufacturer to control the weight of a mallet is easy. For a manufacturer to control both weight and hardness simultaneously in each model of a line is tedious in the research stage, time consuming and frustrating in the development stage and usually more expensive to manufacture. Perhaps that is the reason that no one ever bothered to do it until MALLETECH(tm).

The most common and least expensive way to make a line of mallets of various hardnesses is for the manufacturer to simply ignore weight as a factor. To achieve a wide range of models from the same rubber mold, manufacturers usually control only the durometer (i.e., the hardness) of the ball, never considering the musically and technically important point that the successive models in a line may end up having no sensible weight relationship to one another.

Because this method of “designing” a line of mallets is so common, so are the following two problems:

1.) You like the weight of a particular model, but it is not quite hard enough for a particular piece. So, you buy the next harder model of that brand (if you can figure out from the crazy model numbers and one word description which model is the next harder), and it turns out to be much too heavy — or too light!

2.) You like the hardness of a particluar model but it’s too heavy for the fast passage work in the piece you’re working on. You want a lighter mallet of nearly identical hardness. How do you find it? Do you know someone who owns almost every mallet made — and is willing to loan you them to try? How about calling a music store and asking them to weigh a few models you are considering? (“It’s OK, put me on hold while you get out the postal scale”.) Do you happen to live near a percussion store that keeps a marimba and vibes set up for customers to try out mallets — and stocks a wide selection?

These are only two of the types of weight vs. hardness problems percussionists have had to put up with for years. A more expensive procedure than just controlling durometer is to change elastomers (i.e., type of rubber compound) as the durometer of the model changes, thereby controling the specific gravity (i.e., weight) of the core as well. MALLETECH(tm) has used this method on the Friedman and Samuels lines to keep the two models in each line very similar in weight. After two years of experiments on the Natural Rubber Series, we have achieved almost identical weights on the four different models. To appreciate what a breakthrough this is, you must try them side by side with any other line of unwrapped mallet.

MALLETECH(tm) has also added a third, still more complex method to control weight and hardness. To understand why this is an advance in mallet technology it is necessary to know that thermoplastics can be controlled very closely for specific gravity, and that certain elastomer compounds can be closely controlled for hardness. By combining these two technologies in one design, we can take advantage of the precise weight control of thermoplastics while adjusting hardness through the science of elastomers. This is the system used in the Stevens and Concerto lines. What all this means to the performer is that there is a smooth, predictable and minor change of weight from model to model. Each of the regular models in these two lines gets slightly lighter as they get harder.

As a result of all of this research, MALLETECH(tm) can now offer lines that are designed so that the weight of the model increases along with hardness ; lines in which weight decreases along with hardness; and lines in which weight remains the same as hardness increases. As reflected in our premium prices, this is not the easiest, fastest or cheapest way to design and make mallets, but we feel it is the most sensible and musical from the standpoint of the performer. MALLETECH(tm) believes that when you pick up the next harder or softer model in a line of mallets, it should feel like a member of the same family. If it says MALLETECH(tm) on the handle, it will.