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Steve Weiss Mallet Workshop


Does anyone have, or know of, a Xylosynth in my area that I could try?

Location: Abbotsford, BC, Canada (but I'm willing to go as far South as Seattle, Washington and as far West as North Vancouver, BC).

Looking to locally sell my M55 and purchase a 3 octave (F-F) Xylosynth, as I'm thinking of taking an extended trip to Australia and I couldn't stand being without a mallet instrument. Especially since I just spent the last year practicing to acquire a diploma on drum set, and missed playing my vibes the whole time.

I've chosen the Xylosynth over the Malletkat because I've heard it's feel is much more realistic. I'm totally open to buying used, but have yet to see one for sale. Also, does anyone know if the Xylosynth is sold outside of the Wernick website? I couldn't come up with anything in my Google search and this would be very helpful in the "try before buy" process. Any further advice is appreciated.



tonymiceli Thu, 01/05/2012 - 16:12

you should check out the mallet kat. if you buy it in pieces it comes apart and fits into a small bag. i'm not sure if the xylosynth does that, but if it doesn't and you're going to travel i would REALLY check out the malletKat as well. sounds built in, etc. and it would fit into a small case. it's amazing.

as for that review, yeah it's very old. look they both won't feel like a real vibraphone. no doubt. i only know about the malletKat and it's a great instrument. dana sudborough has a xylosynth and he digs it so bet that's a great instrument also.

norbert Sat, 01/07/2012 - 10:05

In reply to by tonymiceli

so has anyone tried the Kat with the new acousta feel pads?

(bottom of page)

what looks attractive to me about a xylosynth is one can fold the 4oct instrument in half straight into a flightcase, but I guess a Kat express with expanders is more portable, however that seems to include screwing bolts to take them apart

How about discount at Alternate Mode for subscribers here, is that still on?

tonymiceli Sat, 01/07/2012 - 10:29

In reply to by norbert

Discounts: I think of you would def get a discount if Mentioned vibesworlshop.

Also I'm coming to holland in a few weeks and can always bring one and save one of you guys hundreds of dollars!

mariokatman Sun, 01/08/2012 - 10:19

In reply to by tonymiceli

Deciding on an instrument purchase is a real important thing. You'll be spending
thousands of hours on your new instrument, so you have make the right choice.

I'd like to share some things with you that should help you along the way.

Please go to:
This article goes into detail about what the controller can do. There are videos
attached as well.

Please also go to youtube and type in malletKAT 7 KS. Here you can listen to
what the malletKAT sounds like. There are about 1000 sounds in the malletKAT. There
are 15 vibe sounds and about the same amount of marimba sounds. There is also lots of orchestral and show percussion and there as well. Besides sounding great, this makes life easy. There is no programming to do of any kind. Just turn it on and start playing. With an external synth, you have to know about channels, program changes, etc. etc.

Tony mentioned the idea of trying it. Of course you should! There is no better way to learn about an instrument in the privacy of your own home. Buy the instrument, play with it for a week or two, then decide if the malletKAT is right for you. It is important to us that you
are happy with the instrument, and we would never give you any hassles if you wanted to return it. The decision is yours.

We are going to have a sale next week on our website. It will be a savings of over $500 on an malletKAT Express KS with two Expanders. The timing is perfect. If this is not the package that interests you, you can contact me directly at my personal email. We always take care of vibeworkshop players.

Finally. I would like to make a comment about the malletKAT vs xylosynth article posted 2003.
The malletKAT has been transformed several times over since then. Our new nuBOUNCE pads are really fantastic to play on. It does not have the mushy bounce that some players didn't like.
We've made our sensors water resistant, made the instrument 2/3rds lighter, increased the dynamic range of our sensors, and powered the malletKAT with built in sound engine from Kurzweil.

For me, its the nuance in the software that really makes the instrument a musical experience.
The malletKAT Tour will go into details.

Happy Playing :)

John Keene Thu, 01/05/2012 - 17:23

Email Will and ask if he has sold one to anyone in the Pacific Northwest, and that could be your easiest way to try one out. If none have been sold in reasonable travel distance, then you may want to consider the Kat (which does offer some advantages that Tony describes).

vibraphonejill Thu, 01/05/2012 - 19:26

In reply to by John Keene

The only thing about the Kat that I've read about (especially in the review written by James Walker is that the Kat has some great MIDI capabilities, but feels distractingly unauthentic. Mind you, this was written in 2003 and I'm unsure of possible changes that have been made to either instruments since. Going electronic for me is a means to an end. I LOVE my Musser 55 but can't travel with it. I would love to try both the Malletkat and Xylosynth to make a fair comparison for myself, but unfortunately don't have the access to such a comparison. Both are portable and I know that you can purchase a nifty flight case for the Xylosynth that looks solid and versatile. I'm totally open to be convinced to buy a Malletkat (and I know of someone local who owns one), but even finding information online is sparse. These forums are my best bet. Thanks for the quick replies, you're my only hope! :)


PS I've emailed Will in the mean time.

tonymiceli Thu, 01/05/2012 - 19:58

In reply to by vibraphonejill

not to get in a competition between the two, however. call mario, i bet he'd ship you one, put in on your card and then if you didn't dig it, he'd refund money minus shipping. something like that.

i have never played the xylosynth, but i guarantee you, for portability the malletKat wins. unless the xylo synth breaks apart.

here's the thing, i bet (i'm not guaranteeing) the mallet kat could go on as carry on luggage, it packs up that small.

i'll get mario to get in on this thread he's my buddy.

vibraphonejill Sat, 01/07/2012 - 05:15

In reply to by tonymiceli

Thanks for the advice. I'm emailing with Wernick now. Looks like he knows of someone locally (40 minutes away) with a xylosynth! I also know of someone with a Malletkat about 1 hour away, so I'll make the trek, try out the instruments, and decide from there. I'm currently waiting on Wernick for some price estimates, + shipping, so I'm hoping that helps with my decision as well.


Randy Fri, 01/06/2012 - 00:49

In reply to by vibraphonejill

In case you haven't seen the newest version of the MalletKAT, check out Mario demonstrating the MalletKAT 7 KS. I just had my MK upgraded and now has a built-in sound module. It's pretty amazing. There are 15 different Vibraphone options and it has hundreds of other sounds.
Hope this helps.


wuestentrommler Sat, 01/07/2012 - 15:39

Hi Jillana,

percussionists are used to play a lot of different surfaces played by a huge number of different materials. Therefore I wouldn't focus so much on the "feel".

After buying a midicontroler, I realized:

There is a whole new world to understand! How does that controler function?
The controler might be connected to a synthesizer modul and that modul might be connected to a computer with it's digital audio workstation/ music notation programm etc.

I spent (and still do) endless hours of understanding, how these things work. Practce-sessions I started hopefuly turned quickly into a frustrating search on how to get the sounds, adjustments etc. I was looking for. All that synth stuff comes with a (to me) non musicans vocabulary (for ex. a vibrato might be called "low frequency oscillator speed" or "modulation" etc.).

So now, a true selling point for me would be a good manual, that is written for percussionists, not for synth geeks.

I suggest downloading the manuals of the different brands (malletcontrollers/ synthmodules/ daw etc.) on the market (also Niko might come up with something soon!) and see, how understandable things are to you. Are there some tutorials available, how to set up different things? Do the video-tutorials lighten things up or do they just tell what's already described in the manual?

2nd: Hitting the surface of a malletcontroler you'll hear a "practice pad" sound. That sound might be quite disturbing, if you use the controller in a quite setting or as a practice instrument in an apartment building. I suggest going for the softer one.


tonymiceli Sat, 01/07/2012 - 15:43

In reply to by wuestentrommler

that's true. there is a learning curve. but if you learn how to use the instrument you can do amazing things with it. that's true with all synths.

i will say that the new mallet kat has many sounds set up on it already, built in. you will definitely be able to play out of the box, and then learn.

sounds like you're going to be travelling, so you'll have to learn. here's the cool thing.

let's say you're on a bus or a car for a long drive. well if you have ac, you could plug on the 2 octaves of the synth and sit it on your lap and work on it. eps if you could get ac out of the car, which is these days. radio shack!!!

mario will be online soon. he's been away. and he'll give you his 2 cents.

snailbirdfish Fri, 11/30/2012 - 11:00

Good Day,
I have a xylosynth and I live in Victoria. So if you want to hop on a boat to get here, you are welcome to try it out.
Furthermore, I think that Will sold a xylosynth to a guy in Vancouver, but he told me that 5 years ago when I bought mine.

So what can i tell you.

1. It is all about your sound module.
The xylosynth is only a controller and nothing more. It does have some primative modulation like "note length" and "sensitivity" which allows for some changes in the midi send. It is polyphonic as you can play many notes if your midi-note length is up, and you can re-trigger a midi-note by playing it again.

2. It is all about your sound module....Deja-vu ? No.
The hardest thing to control on any midi instrument is Attack, Sustain, Decay, Release (ADSR).
You need an awesome sound module that can give you ADSR envelope control beyond the xylosynth. Some modules will have this modelled for you, like a marimba out of say a Kerzweil box will have a quick attack and a fast decay and not much sustain.
Since you are a vibe player, I think this the hardest on the xylosynth. The xylosynth does have foot controllers for dampening and sustain that is similar to a vibe sustain pedal, but again this does not shape the sound just sustain or stops the midi notes from being sent to the module.

I used Ableton Live Instruments for a longitme. Collision does a nice modelling job of vibes and other mallets as well as you get to modify several parameters to suit your sound like ADSR. What really changed my view of the xylosynth is when I hooked it up to my Moog Synth and had foot controls over the ADSR envelope, to shape the sound.

The reason why i say this is that - by nature - there is no decay on the midi-note coming from the xylosynth. It just drops it and the sound stops, unless a ADSR envelope is enabled.

3. Portability.
I have a 3 octave and it is the size of a 4 octave keyboard and i have purchased a airplane metal case to move it around. Usually it sits in my studio and if i have to travel with it, it is definitely noticeably there. If you want something to throw in your laptop bag this isnt the instrument for you. If the Mallet Kat folds into a small "carry-on" then it wins the portability contest. The 4-octave xylosynth folds in half but would probably pack up to the size of a small-medium sized guitar amp and would be several kilos.
If you want to bomb around Aussie land, from flight to flight and bus to bus then you will find that your xylosynth would be more like a travel buddy than luggage.

For me, I am a huge rockstar so my roadies take care of it. <---- Sarcasm.

4. Do i like it?
It is a head turner. There are a few issues that come with any instrument. The lack of a damper by touch is something that a vibe player will have to get over. if you cant, then you are going to be infinitely frustrated. In the end, the xylosynth is not a vibe or a xylo or a marimba. you can trigger those sounds as well as trigger piano (my favorite) but you need to have a working understanding of how sound modules work or if you get a sound module that say only does vibes and sounds awesome you will still need to know how to control the ADSR.

I use my xylosynth for a lot. I like the expressive nature of it and the chance to play any sound I want and then to loop or sequence it.

You say you will go as far west as North Van but you said you will go to Seattle.
Victoria is only a boat ride away, heck I would pick you up at the ferry terminal.

hope that helps,