How to Take Care of Your Timpani Mallets

Timpani sticks are expensive so you need to learn how to take care of them so that they will last a long time. A simple way to maintain your mallets is to trim the fuzz periodically when they need haircuts.

Use cuticle scissors to give your mallets a haircut

  • Trim the pieces of felt that are pulling away from your mallet head with rounded cuticle scissor.
  • Don’t pull on the felt because you’ll just make the pulls and fuzzyness worse!
  • You can make them look like new by giving them periodic haircuts
  • If you don’t trim them they will get fuzzier and fuzzier and not last very long.

It’s simple to do. Just watch this video to learn how to trim the felt on your timpani mallets

Keep Your Mallets in a Case

If you keep your mallets trimmed and in a case or mallet bag when they’re not being played with, you’ll be able to keep them clean and they’ll last longer.

Use a Separate Case for Your Different Types of Mallets

When you are starting out as a percussionist and you only have a few pairs of mallets then don’t worry about this. You can keep a small collection in one case or mallet bag and they’ll be fine. But, as you start to add to your collection of sticks and you accumulate a bunch of timpani stick, marimba mallets, drum sticks, xylophone mallets, etc. you should consider getting a separate mallet case for your timpani mallets and a separate case for your other mallets.

A mallet case just keeps things neater and it’s easier to keep a handle on the maintenance issues.

Here are some Mallet Case Suggestions

The Vic FIrth SBAG2 Stick Bag holds 24 pairs of sticks and mallets and contains two small accessory pockets. This bag works really well because its light, I can see my mallets easily without digging through a big box where what I’m looking for might be way down deep.

I like to have two or three small mallet cases. I keep most of my mallets at home in a couple of cases and then when I need to go to a gig I’ll choose a dozen or so mallets that I think I’ll need for the type of gig that I’m going to be playing.

In other words, there’s no point if bringing 5 pairs of soft timpani mallets if I’m playing an all Beethoven/Mozart program, so I’ll put my classical sounding sticks in my Vic Firth SBAG 2 that costs about $45 and I’ll be all set.

If you want a hard case, look at the Weiss Hard Stick and Mallet Case for $99 at Steve Weiss Music.

The Freer Hard case available at Freer Percussion is nice but for me it’s a little heavy. Freer makes a soft version of this case that is more appealing and at $90 from their web site it’s a good deal.

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  1. Hello!

    I’m a high school timpanist who is going to play some Classical repertoire. Do you have any good suggestions for mallet selection? I was thinking of getting the Vic Firth T4 mallet. Is that articulate enough? Or should I get something like the Tim Genis 7 mallet? Any recommendations? Thanks!


    • HI Abe,

      Thanks for your great question. You are certainly on the right track about finding an articulate mallet that will work well for “Classical” repertoire. Depending on the ensembles size you might find that the T4 will be too heavy a mallet. If you are playing Beethoven’s 9th with a large orchestra and choir this mallet is an excellent choice though.
      The Genis Articulate and the Molto Articulate are very good mallets for a lot of classical rep and I would also suggest Goodman #5 if you like a turned shaft or the Grover TMB T2 and TMB T3 if you prefer bamboo shafts. The Grovers are both great in my opinion with the T2 being a little darker in sound and good for bigger sound.
      I used a mallet that I make that has a bamboo shaft with a cork core covered with a layer of chamois. These mallets are very articulate (almost as hard as wood) but are warmer sounding than wood. I sell them if you are interested for $40 and JG Percussion also makes a mallet like this.
      Another thing to remember when playing classical rep with hard mallets is that you may want or need to dampen the drums a bit with some felt mufflers or some Moon Gels on the edge at 3 or 9 o’clock from your playing spot. The Moon Gels work great for eliminating some of the extra ring that doesn’t fit will with a lot of the classical rep.
      Hope this has been helpful and enjoy!

  2. jasmine ward says:

    hi, can you please tell me what different types of mallets are used for as I play with a brass band in new Zealand and haven’t had many lessons on what to use wear as i study all disciplines

    • Jasmine,
      Thanks for your question. There are an infinite number of mallet options available to a timpanist and the selecting mallets with which to play can become overwhelming. Since you are in the early stages of your playing experience I would suggest finding a mallet that feels good in your hands and matches the style of playing that you are used to. There are two basic options of mallets and they are mallets with straight shafts (bamboo or solid wood) or tapered shafts (solid wood or synthetic). After you make that decision you should acquire 3 pairs; Hard, Medium, and Soft. With those 3 options you should be able to play just about anything that you will encounter in a brass band. Hard or Ultra staccato mallets will be used when you need to play very precise and articulated rhythmic passages. Medium or General sticks will be used when you need full sounding notes that still provide articulation. You’ll need a soft pair for passages in the music that require you to play long rolls or individual notes that really need to sound their fullest.
      Once you gain more experience you will find that you probably need to fill in the gaps between your mallet collection and you will probably end up with about 7 or 8 pairs of sticks that will be used most often depending on the music.
      Your question is a complex one, but if you start with the basic set of 3 is the best way to go until you gain more experience and understanding.

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