Milt Jackson Mallets

I have fallen in love with Promark Milt Jackson mallets. They're unlike any other mallet I've ever used - huge oval-shaped heads, heavy weight but wound with soft yarn. They are supposedly modeled after Milt's mallets. But someone knowledgeable about vibraphone construction has warned me that these mallets can be destructive to an instrument.

He says that the weight of the large head on these mallets can actually ruin the vibe keys. I respect his opninion but I am also skeptical about this warning.

Does anyone have long-term experience with these mallets? Has anyone had problems with the mallets damaging vibe keys?

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Larry C.

I have never used those mallets... I have played them once or twice, but my hands are large and I don't care so much for the short shafts.

That said, the mallets that I do use are both harder and heavier. Also, I have spent a few 3-4 year periods throughout the life of my instruments where I played with bands requiring a little extra volume, so I was playing hard.

So far, no bad effects on the bars. I play a Musser M55 for the most part on my gigs. Pretty sturdy axe.

I like the Albright mallets a lot, and I think the main issue in protecting your bars is to always think in terms of tone rather than using large head mallets for volume. When I watch MJQ play live on DVD, Milt never flails at the bars and the arc of his swing is not very wide. I think that Gary has addressed this as well, and the size of the mallet head may not matter as much as the agressiveness of the attack to be heard over a rhythm section.

We had this discussion at the Vibenet about a decade ago and Nico was very partial to ABC mallets (imported to the US) and felt that they served the bars well as far as protection. I'd love to hear Nico's current opinion on this subject.

Thanks for the reply.

I agree that it's touch and not mallet that's the most important factor. I raised the issue because the warning I got about these mallets was from someone whose knowledge of vibe mechanics I respect, and he was quite insistent on this point.

I think I know what Nico will say.

I own and played a variety of large head mallets including the Pro-Mark Milt Jackson Signature mallets.
I have not damaged any of my bars yet. I believe if. one play using a down-up stroke, pulling the sound out of the bar as oppose to pushing the mallet into the bar, this should avoid any potential damage. This is a stroke Phil Kraus advocated and hand drummers, particularly jembe players use
all the time. Hope this helps. musically yours in peace and love, Seneferu Khepera