Hammers and mallets
Percussionists use many different hammers and mallets. On the xylophone, mallets with a slightly flexible shaft and a small, round head are generally used.
The head is made of rubber, wood or plastic. The heads of softer mallets are wrapped in yarn. Each material provides its own timbre. On the xylophone, harder mallets are preferred because of the particular tonal properties they offer.
Softer mallets damp the higher partials, the timbre becomes softer and rounder; hard mallets bring the higher partials to the fore, making the timbre brighter, harder and shriller.
Shaft length: 30–40 cm.
Head diameter: 2–2.8 cm.
Material: ebonite, rosewood, Lexan, ABS, rubber, yarn wrapping.
Mallets are divided into eight degrees of hardness: extra hard, very hard, hard, medium hard, medium soft, soft, very soft, extra soft. These categories are more relevant to playing practice; in scores only three degrees of hardness are generally indicated: soft, medium and hard.