Introducing my NEW leather-headed mallets!

(I’m Getting Sentimental Over You, by George Bassman)

After months of trial and error, I may have developed a mallet design that works for my particular style of playing. I first posted on VW last December, using pouch-style leather mallets that were custom-made in India (see my old posts). Within days Tony emailed me and expressed interest in trying them out. This caused me to rethink the original design that had problematic issues: the leather head would wear down quickly and become too soft, and the mallets required excessive energy to pull out the best sound from the bars. These new louder and more sensitive mallets will take some time getting used to, but I am encouraged by the possibilities. I’m curious what VW members think and welcome all comments.

Access: Anonymous


The sound really seems to work for you. Good clarity throughout the instrument without being too harsh down low or too thin up high. I would like more details on what you did with the design to get there. What composition and shape are the cores? what other materials if any did you use in the wrap?

I have used a layer of leather inside my mallets for years. Yes, it does wear down in time, but not as fast as the cotton yarn I use on the outside, so there is always an option to replace it. Leather has some unique sound properties. I have also used cork in a similar manner (the thin stuff that woodwind players use on mouthpieces).

When I first cared about the construction of my mallets, I did a shit load of research. I found a yarn made by Dupont (made for industrial carpet) that yielded a fantastic sound and was virtually indestructible. I don't remember how I found it but I convinced Dupont that I was important and they gave me samples and their time. I had to order a pallet of this stuff in order to make just one set of mallets. So I did. I sent it to Michael Balter. He made me mallets with it but the stuff was kind of furry and didn't lay well and was hard to wrap. Michael did further research and found a version that was acceptable (used today).

I also learned about rubber and synthetic rubber for the cores of the mallet that were measured by "shore" or "durometer". My signature mallet is 80 durometer but the recipe is not accurate. So, some batches of mallet cores are GREAT and others are not. The tolerance is very wide with respect to artists. I learned to fix the mallets that came out with too hard of a durometer by whacking them with a hammer hundreds of times before I used them (a breaking-in process).

i want to try these out! how can i? i can send the stix back. just curious! i think you're on to something.

i like watching you play slowly. you're playing slower here than in other videos. i just learned something about this style of playing and how burtonesque players use their 4 mallets. thanks for the lesson!

Hi Tony,
I can send you one of my spare sets to check out and return when you can, but no real rush. If Leigh wants to check them out, you can send them along to him and/or Balter. Email me your address and I can ship them ASAP. These ones I will send are a tiny bit harder than I prefer, but they are solid and ready for testing. The design is proprietary right now, which is why I can't get into those specifics on the site. Perhaps someday, if there is enough interest, they might become an option for the vibes world to explore. I'm enjoying all the feedback and agree that I may be onto something unique.