Recommended Mallets and Sticks

Percussionists need a wide variety of mallets and sticks to get many different tones, colors, articulations and sounds from their instruments. This isn't to say a performer can't get a variety of sound from a single pair of mallets. It's just that with each pair, there is a range within to work with.

Here is a list of mallets I've both used and heard others use in performance with great results.

disclaimer: Keep in mind there are other products on the market that might be great. This list is only made of mallets and sticks I have had personal experience with.



I really like the Nancy Zeltsman line of mallets. They all generally have a full warm tone. They are well balanced so you don't have to work as hard to get a big sound. I also like that they tend to get a little more rebound because of the latex core making them respond a little more like timpani mallets. I have highlighted the description according to the color of yarn they are wrapped in.

1st three sets to get in this order:

  • NZ3B General Mallet that you can get good articulation, and still sound fluid when playing rolls. Sounds good in all ranges of the instrument.
  • NZ4B Medium Soft Mallet that sounds more connected and fluid than the NZ3B. You can still get articulation, but you have to work a little harder. They sound best in the mid to low register of the instrument.
  • NZ2B Medium Hard Mallet that gives you more articulation than the NZ3B for quick passages you don't want to sound like a blur. You can produce a lot of volume with them. They sound best in the the mid to high register of the instrument, although they can still be used in the lower register without causing damage to the bars.

Less Frequently Used, but Good to Have

  • NZ6B Soft Mallet that sound very round and fluid in the mid to low register. They are excellent for Chorals that stay primarily in the mid to low register. These mallets produce a seamless organ like quality. They tend to get a lot of yarn sound as opposed to tone in the upper register.

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