What’s the Difference Between Marimba and Xylophone?

The mallet percussion class is made up of five instruments : marimba, xylophone, vibraphone, glockenspiel ( sometimes called “ orchestral bells ” ) and chimes. In this article, we ’ ll lecture about the differences between the wooden mallet instruments : marimba and marimba. ( Check out our blog posting about the metal mallet instruments : vibraphone, glockenspiel and chimes. )

Range and Tonality

The sound characteristics of the marimba and marimba disagree due to factors such as the measure fabric ( rosewood, padauk or synthetic ), physical construction, and the type of mallet being used. In addition, as you can see from this chart, the two instruments have different ranges :
Compares vocal range for mallet percussion instruments to standard keyboard.
The marimba is the largest instrument in the mallet musical instrument family. Its range can cover over five octaves ( beginning at C ), with a darkness, full sound. The marimba occupies a higher range ( beginning at F ) and has a bright, more pierce reasoned. Both instruments have resonators ( sometimes called resonator tube or resonator pipes ) suspended beneath the tone bars. These amplify the fathom and cause the notice to resonate fully when the bar is hit with a mallet. The duration of each resonator varies depending on the pitch of the note bar ; the lower the note, the longer the resonator.

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These videos demonstrate the sonic differences between marimba and marimba :


Xylophones and marimba besides use different tuning systems. Xylophones use quint-tuning, which involves tuning the fundamental and 3rd overtone. Marimbas use octave-tuning, which involves tuning the fundamental and 4th overtone. This is a simplified description of the tuning methods, but it is important to know because it affects the sound characteristics. The marimba has a exchangeable harmonic structure to wind and string instruments, while the marimba stands out because of its custom of quint-tuning.

Bar Material

traditionally, marimba and marimba bars are made out of rosewood. however, over the past few decades, manufacturers have experimented with other materials. In summation to rosewood, Yamaha makes marimba and xylophone bars out of padauk and Acoustalon™ .
Padauk is a hardwood native to cardinal and tropical West Africa. In addition to bars for mallet instruments, it is used in making drums, string instruments and furniture .
Acoustalon is a synthetic material developed by Yamaha, produced from fiberglass-reinforced plastic in a one-step fabrication process. Bars made of this substantial provide exceeding lastingness and a pure tone. Each Yamaha Acoustalon browning automatic rifle is scientifically designed with Sonic Tone Holes to yield a key like to rosewood.

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Also check out our blog article “What’s the Difference Between Vibraphone, Glockenspiel and Chimes?”
Yamaha offers a wide variety show of mallet percussion section instruments to fit any situation. For more information, visit the Yamaha Percussion website .