Differences between mallets and friction mallets for gongs and singing bowls

A mallet is used to beat, a friction mallet to create friction – but where are the differences in material and form? And how does all this affect the sound? We explain which different mallets and friction mallets are available for gongs and singing bowls and how to use the different variants correctly.
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The most important facts in brief

  • Gong friction mallets are used to create friction on a gong, while gong mallets are used to strike a gong.
  • The situation is similar with singing bowls: A friction mallet is used to move along the edges of the singing bowl, while a mallet is used to produce tones through gentle strokes.
  • However, the differences between friction mallets and mallets are not only in the playing technique, the models also vary in material and shape.
  • For a singing bowl, one usually uses much smaller mallets than when playing a gong.

What is the difference between mallets and friction mallets?

If you’ve already taken a look at our range, you might know that – from a purely visual point of view – the difference between friction mallets and mallets is not always easy to tell. In fact, however, they are not only two different instruments that are played and used quite differently – a friction mallet also differs significantly from a mallet in terms of material and shape.

Let’s start with the basics: a friction mallet is used to rub a gong or singing bowl, a mallet is used to strike a gong or singing bowl. Which sounds are produced depends on various points.

Hitting a gong or singing bowl can produce mainly deep, dark sounds, while rubbing gongs or singing bowls produces mainly bright sounds, which also last much longer due to the constant rubbing. Depending on the zone in which you use a mallet or friction mallet, for example on a gong, different sounds and volumes are created. For example, the tones at the edge of a gong are significantly brighter than in its center.

Note

The difference between friction mallets and mallets is mainly that they are used differently. While rubbing the gong or singing bowl with the rasp, use the mallet for gentle or intense strokes that produce the very characteristic tones.

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How are gong friction mallets different from singing bowl friction mallets?

Gong friction mallets and singing bowl friction mallets differ only slightly from each other. Usually gong friction mallets are somewhat longer than singing bowl friction mallets, since the area to be played on a gong is also significantly larger than on a traditional singing bowl. In terms of material, the gong friction mallets differ in part from the singing bowl friction mallets: While the gong friction mallets usually have a very soft rubber or rubber head, singing bowl friction mallets are also equipped with aluminum heads or even formed entirely of wood. A rubbing mallet produces a very focused and distinctive tone on a singing bowl, which would not be possible to implement on the gong in this way.

There are also special features of the classic gong friction mallet: There are two-sided friction mallets, which are equipped with a rubber head in different sizes on both ends of the stem. The friction mallet can be used on two sides and thus offers a wider range of tones.

In addition, there are also friction mallets that are suitable for playing the gong as well as for producing sound with singing bowls. These include, for example, the ollihess friction mallets from the Lava Edition, whose head is made of natural rubber and is available in four different sizes. Depending on the sound instrument you use, you can create a wide variety of tones and vibrations with these friction mallets.

How do singing bowl mallets and gong mallets differ?

A singing bowl is usually much more compact and smaller than a classic gong. Even though both variants usually use similar materials and shapes, the mallets used to produce the sound on the singing bowl are much smaller than those used to play a gong. This also makes sense for purely practical reasons – because in order to produce a sound by striking the gong, a significantly greater application of force is required. So the longer the handle of the mallet, the more effectively it can be used.

In our store you will find a whole range of different mallets especially for singing bowls – for example Felt malletsthe head of which is made of soft felt, somewhat harder rubber mallets rubber malletswith a head made of natural rubber or metallic aluminum malletswhich are particularly easy to disinfect.

Note

Longer mallets are ideal for gongs, while smaller and therefore lighter mallets are used for singing bowls.

How are gong friction mallets and singing bowl friction mallets used?

Those who are concerned with the differences between mallets and friction mallets must first of all take a look at the way they are played. Of course, there are also differences between the application on a gong or on a singing bowl – because a gong is used completely differently than a singing bowl.

Playing technique with a gong friction mallet

You have to rub a friction mallet over the gong to create a nice and long lasting sound. The entire surface of the gong is available for this purpose. The tones that are produced at the edge of the gong are very different from the tones that can be produced at the center of the gong. But not only the different sizes of the gong friction mallets and the positioning of the instrument make an important part of the sound, but also the material and shape of the used friction mallet – and of course the gong itself. There are different types of gongs that can have very different sound spectrums.

ollihess Gongreiber Lava Edition

Playing technique with a singing bowl friction mallet

A singing bowl is mainly designed to be struck with a mallet. If you want to produce the characteristic tones with a singing bowl friction mallet, you cannot use the entire singing bowl. To make the bowl vibrate, you run the friction mallets along the outside of the rim of the singing bowl, triggering the vibrations that also produce the tones. Exciting to observe: The longer you rub, the stronger and more persistent the sound becomes!

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How are gong mallets and singing bowl mallets used?

Various factors play a role in tone production with a mallet. How intense and characteristic the sounds become depends on the type of mallet, the way it is played and the shape of the singing bowl. With the gong, in addition to the way it is played and the type of gong, it also depends on its positioning in the room. We have summarized the stroke techniques for you:

Strike the gong with a gong mallet

The gong mallet should always be in relation to the size of your gong. How you play the gong always depends on what sounds you want to produce. The lowest notes and fundamental tones originate in the central middle of the gong. In direct contrast to this is the edge of the gong, where you can reach the highest possible frequency ranges. Between these two areas, the remaining surface of the gong provides you with a varied spectrum of sounds. For more information, see our post on playing the gong.

Striking singing bowl with a singing bowl mallet

Playing a singing bowl with a mallet is much less forceful than playing a gong. To produce an intense tone, gently strike the outside of the singing bowl with the singing bowl mallet. The closer you strike the bottom of the singing bowl, the more powerful the sound will be. Also, when striking the singing bowl, be sure to hit as large an area as possible. So make sure that your mallet hits the outside of the singing bowl as straight as possible.

How you can use the differences between friction mallets and mallets

The fact that friction mallets and mallets are used so differently gives you numerous advantages. If you already have a singing bowl or a gong, you can create fundamentally different tones and sounds with friction mallets and mallets. The different playing techniques always have surprises in store for you. Test your skills with friction mallets and mallets alike to dive deep into the world of sounds and develop a feeling for the individual characteristics of the instruments. This way you get the most out of your instrument and can fully exploit your creativity.

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