How to Use a Mallet on the Drums

A mallet is a hand-held beater that features a head linked to a slim shaft, and used in pairs for drumming or other instruments. There are different types of mallets. The type used on drums is the felt mallets, also known as cartwheel mallets.

They come with heads that have layers of felt. The player holds them between two steel washers. Mallets used on drums are also referred to as soft sticks. Usually, the shafts of mallets are created with birch, rattan, or synthetic substance like the fiberglass.


Holding The Mallets and Using Them On a Drum Kit.

A relaxed, firm grip that enables the drummer’s wrist to move without restriction points to a great mallet grip. If you employ the French Grip or the American Grip, your palms will be facing each other, with your thumbs atop.

You should hold the mallet in a relaxed grip, between the thumb and the fore finger, while the rest of the fingers are nestled beneath and making contact with the stick. Your wrist performs the function in playing with this grip, but this rule will be altered when very soft playing is involved – in which case your fingers do the job. But, generally, both the mallet and your wrist will move as single unit.

The Challenge.

For every player, there’s a challenge, which is letting the mallet freely rebound as soon as it comes in contact with the drum head, instead of letting the mallet ‘glue’ to the head in a short while or just any duration.

Your Body Position.

Also, when it comes to using the mallet on the drum, your body position is as important as how you grip or hold the mallet. The importance of assuming a good posture and keeping your back straight cannot be overemphasized. This becomes even more needful if you’re playing for an extended length of time – e.g. playing a long concert.

When you assume a sitting position that keeps your back straight, it will enable you look at the drums in a comfortable manner. Also, you are able to look at the conductor as well as the music stand without bending in an awkward manner and straining your back or neck as a result.

Also, another reason you may want to sit straight at the drums is to enable you get your feet ready to work your tuning pedals. And, when needful, you will be able to tweak the drums’ pitch, and in a quick manner without making too much movement with your body.

In order to obtain a great sound, the player needs to drum on the accurate playing spot, as well as possess the right striking technique with his mallet. Staying about three inches from the drum’s rim is a great playing spot. You should bear in mind that you need to strive to make the mallet come smoothly off the head when striking the drum, as though you are not even holding it.

Doing It Yourself:

Tip #1: Experiment with different types of mallets. If you’re playing the timpani, choose the ball style timpani mallet over the cartwheel mallet.


Tip #2: Dropping the mallet should be done in a straight down manner, and as it rebounds from your drum, grasp it. You should closely pay attention to the stick’s movement while you do the drop and catch over and again. You should also pay attention to the tone that comes from the mallet as it drops. You will try to reproduce that sound as you hold the mallet in a ready-to-play position.

Tip #3: The mallet should be held by the handle vertically as the ball stays about 18” over the drum – on the playing spot.

Tip #4: The fall of the dropped stick happens naturally, and the rebound takes place almost immediately.

Tip #5: At this point, play the drum with your grip stick. Strive to imitate the exact fluid movement made by the dropped stick as it left your hand and bounced back from the head.

Tip #6: Pay close attention to the sound. The sound you get when you play the drum with the stick, is it the same as when it was dropped? In order to note and appreciate the differences and similarities, keep dropping and playing for a while.

Tip #7: It is important to practice this exercise using both hands – left and right hands.

Closing remarks: As you know, practice makes perfect. Making out time to practice now and then will enhance your mallet using skills. The same applies to just any drumming skill. So, go ahead and put this lesson into practice. Catch fun as you practice!