My Cart   |   Log In   |   Contact Us

FAQs - The Stiletto

Malletech - Malletech

Most Frequently asked Questions about our new model.

Q: Does the introduction of this model mean that the original "Imperial Grand" marimba with brass resonators and the "Roadster" models with aluminum resonators will be discontinued?

A: Absolutely not! This new model is aimed at a different sort of musician. Malletech Instruments will now have three types of 5-octave marimbas - an instrument for every sort of taste and budget.

  • Imperial Grand with brass resonators (fixed heights or adjustable)
  • Roadster with Aluminum resonators (fixed heights or adjustable)
  • Stiletto with Aluminum resonators (fixed heights lower than standard, or up to 8" higher, or adjustable)

Q: What are the main differences between this and the original Malletech 5.0?

A: We redesigned every component, but the main differences are: lower price, closer spacing of the bars, super-light weight, different resonator design, more durable low bars, different looks, available with a lower-height keyboard.

Q: How much does it cost?

A: Every dealer decides how much they want to charge, but you will find it at about the same price as the big companies charge for their marimbas that are aimed at the "school market", and equal to or below the price the smaller builders charge for their 5-octave models.

Q: How much smaller is the low bar spacing?

A: Any cross-grip player will be able to get a comfortable octave starting on the lowest 'C'. The reach of bottom octave C to C is the same as C to A on the Imperial Grand.

Q: How light is it?

A: First of all, despite our reputation for making "heavy" marimbas, the resonators on our larger Roadster model are already lighter than any brand that has "flared" or oval resonators, and the new ones on our Stiletto are even lighter! The fixed height model Stiletto weighs 220 lbs. and the adjustable height version weighs 230 lbs.

Q: What do you mean, "lower keyboard height"?

A: The fixed-height version can be ordered in any height from 1 1/2 inches (3.8cm) lower than the industry standard (which is about 34.5 inches) up to 8 inches (20.3cm) higher than standard. Measurements are usually made to the top of the natural bars, around middle 'C'. The lower keyboard height is extremely important for players who are less than 5'4" (about 162 cm.) tall. The adjustable height model is 1 1/2 inches lower than standard in the "down" position and quickly and effortlessly goes up 8 inches - almost twice the height range of the other brands.

Q: What is different about the resonators?

A: The low resonators are all round, tubular, tunable tubes - just like the rest of the instrument - what a concept!! A panel of marimbists listened with their backs turned to every low resonator shape currently available and then tested more than a dozen other shapes. The marimbists preferred the round tubes over every other shape, every time. Round tubes have more power and projection into the hall; they naturally emphasize the fundamental, not the third or other weird, non-harmonic tones; they sound more "in focus" and they are much "sweeter" because they only resonate the "in tune" harmonics. Most important, with round tunable resonators, every note can be made to sound full, powerful and rich with fundamental. With other resonator systems, each note of the chromatic scale can have a different tone quality than its neighbor - some strong, some weak, some with predominant fundamental, some with predominant thirds. The tone in the low range of other instruments does not resemble the powerful, focused sound of the second octave because the shape and response of the resonator system is so different than the rest of the instrument. On these brands, the way those notes sound when the instrument is purchased is the way they will sound forever. Some players think the situation can be improved with replacement bars, but most of the time, weak, unfocused bass response is the fault of the resonator shape, not the bar.  

Q: How does the height adjustment system work?

A: The height adjustment system is similar to the one used in our Imperial Grand and Roadster marimbas and our orchestral xylophone. The two outer riser tubes in the endboards contain compressed steel springs, which largely counterbalance the weight of the instrument. As a result, the crank handles can be turned effortlessly, either up or down. These counterbalance springs also permit the steel screw inside the center riser tube to have very course threads - 5 per inch - so the height can be changed extremely quickly. You can raise one end an inch in less than 2 seconds, without bending over or having to loosen or tighten any locking mechanisms.  

Q: What about other finishes and special woods?

A: There are two finishes that look great with the brushed aluminum resonators - ebonized oak (black!) and mahogany. We are willing to custom make your instrument in any wood or finish at additional charge. We will not paint the resonators, as our experience is that painted resonators dull the tone of the marimba. Therefore, our brass resonators are colored brass and our aluminum resonators are colored silver. Both materials look great "in the buff" - they don't need make-up!!

Q: What do you mean by "more durable low bars"?

A: The durability (resistance to cracking from overplaying) of low bars is largely a product of how thick they are in the center of the arch. The thickness of the center of the arch is largely determined by the length of the bar before it is tuned. While this is a bit of an oversimplification, the length of the bars on the low range of the new model are equal to the brand that is famous for standing up to hard players. All similarity in sound and design ends there! Our bars are wider, they are tuned differently and the resonator system is so different that there is really no similarity in responsiveness.