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Malletech - Malletech

 

about-imageMost percussionists know Leigh Howard Stevens as the marimbist Time Magazine hailed as "the world's greatest classical marimbist," the author of the most widely used book on the subject of four-mallet technique and as a concert artist, educator and recording artist.

Not as many know that he is the founder of Malletech and that he has recently received his fifth and sixth U.S. Patents for keyboard percussion design (most recently for real-time control of the depth and speed of vibrato and for Malletech's super-smooth resonator technology).  Leigh is actively involved with the company and, using input from the artists who perform on Malletech, he designs all the products.

That simple fact is fundamental to our success, and one of the reasons Malletech is the instrument of choice for so many of the greatest players in the world. 

 

History of the Companies

MostlyMarimba.com was established in 2000 so that the products and publications of Marimba Productions Inc. and Malletech LLC could have a single internet website address.

At MostlyMarimba.com you will find the products and services of Malletech instruments, mallets and accessories; the publications of Keyboard Percussion Publications and Studio 4 Music and the recordings of Resonator Records. In addition you will find much useful information about marimba and percussion performers, composers, acoustics, seminars and concerts.

The older of the two companies, Marimba Productions, began operations in 1979 as a music publishing company. The impetus for starting a business was that Leigh Howard Stevens, then 26 years old, could not find a publisher for his manuscript, Method of Movement for Marimba. Most publishers rejected the text outright, but one well-known music publisher helpfully suggested that if he rewrote the method book in its entirety to include 2-mallet playing, vibes, xylophone and bells, there might be a chance at getting the book published. The conventional wisdom at the time was that there was no "market" for, or interest in, a book that only dealt with 4-mallet playing -- and certainly not one with so many pages of text and diagrams!

Marimba Productions was incorporated in New York City, where Leigh lived, and orders for MOM were filled from the bedroom of his apartment. When LHS moved to the "Jersey Shore" in 1986, the company moved with him and was reincorporated in New Jersey.   Shortly after the publication of MOM, Marimba Productions Inc. began publishing scores of some of the marimba solos that had been written for Leigh Howard Stevens. Interestingly, the first three publications have established themselves as being among the most influential works in the marimba repertoire: Raymond Helble's Toccata Fantasy, David Maslanka's Variations on Lost Love and John Serry's Night Rhapsody. All three of these works broke new ground in their technical demands and musical textures. All three works were performed on LHS's New York City debut concert in Town Hall on October 27, 1979, with the Helble and Serry receiving their world premiere performances that evening.

One year earlier, in 1978, Vic Firth Inc. of Boston, Massachusetts, introduced Leigh's first solo marimba mallet line. This design of these mallets was very different from any keyboard mallets that had been manufactured previously. The handles were extended length birch, (rather than short rattan, fiberglass or nylon) the wrapping was loose, rather than tight, the heads were only stitched at the very top and bottom (no “reinforcement stitches” near the playing surface), and the tone of each model had a range of sounds, rather than only one. In 1982, Leigh took over the manufacturing of his marimba mallets and three of the greatest mallet players in the world (Bob Becker, David Friedman and Dave Samuels) joined the effort to establish the first brand of mallets devoted to serious keyboard percussion players; Malletech was born.

In 1985 Leigh began working as a design consultant for what was then the largest manufacturer of keyboard percussion instruments in the world, Musser, a division of Ludwig Drums and Selmer Instruments. 

After working on the bar and resonator tuning systems for all the marimbas, xylophones and vibes, he then designed a new extended-range marimba, the "M450 LHS." This instrument, still manufactured today (as the 4.6 range M450 and the 5.0 range M500) use two of his patented designs -- a built-in frame height adjustment and tunable resonators on the lowest octave. In the late 1980's and early 1990's the M450 LHS became the best-selling extended-range concert marimba in the world. Leigh's design was the first commercial marimba made with a furniture-grade all-wooden frame – which replaced the fake leather-wrapped (plastic and vinyl "leatherette") frame components that were standard on the most expensive instruments of the day. Amazingly, some manufacturers still use "leatherette"-wrapped frame components because of the low price to produce.

In 1991 Leigh left Ludwig/Musser to add keyboard percussion instruments to the already successful Malletech mallet line. The first Malletech professional instruments were shown at the 1992 PASIC. In the intervening years, Malletech has been acknowledged by many of the world's greatest players as the "world’s best marimba."

Malletech marimbas and mallets were an integral part of Marimba Productions Inc. until the instrument and mallet business was sold to the Zildjian Company in 1997. At the end of 2000 Leigh bought back the instrument half of the business from Zildjian. The LLC (limited liability company) he formed for the buy-back was named KP3. In June of 2005, Leigh bought back the mallet business and the Malletech Trademark from Zildjian as well. Both the instrument and mallet business now operated for the first time under the name Malletech, LLC.

During this time (1997 to 2005) Marimba Productions Inc. continued operations of the publishing business with percussion music being published under the name "Keyboard Percussion Publications." In 1997 Leigh founded a record label, which he named "Resonator Records." Specializing in keyboard percussion music, Resonator Records has released recordings by Gordon Stout, Michael Burritt, Eric Sammut and the Marimba Festival Orchestra, as well as re-releasing recordings by Leigh Howard Stevens.

Through the years of operations, Marimba Productions Inc. has made several acquisitions of other percussion publishers' catalogs, including Contemporary Music Project, M.Baker Publications, Percussion Arts and Studio 4 Music. This catalog of marimba and percussion music and books contains the majority of the serious percussion repertoire, including most of the music of Gordon Stout, Clair Omar Musser, Bob Becker, Michael Burritt, Eric Sammut, Eric Ewazen, David Maslanka, Raymond Helble and Paul Smadbeck.

Both Marimba Productions Inc. and Malletech LLC operate out of a 20,000 square foot building in Neptune, New Jersey. Company officers are Leigh Howard Stevens, President and CEO, and Tom Meyers, General Manager.