Xylophone – Opinions, Analysis and Buying Guide in 2021
Do you want to start creating beautiful melodies using a xylophone? Well, there are many things to take into account, but, the most important thing is to start by acquiring a good model for you. The WHD JBXP-537 model , for example, is ideal for those who want to dabble in orchestras or practice the most complex pieces of music in complete comfort. However, if you want your child to become a great concert performer, then the Top Bright Rainbow will make your little one approach and grow in the world of music, developing his xylophonist skills, while learning many other things, such as colors. and various children’s songs.
Types of xylophones
Before making a hasty decision you should bear in mind that not all xylophones are the same or produce the same sound, so it is necessary to make a guide to buy the best xylophone for you considering what you are looking for and also what you need.
First, xylophones are characterized by using one of either of these two musical scales: the chromatic and the diatonic.
The last of these is the most used in xylophones for children and beginners, although it can perfectly also be used in instruments for professionals, since the range of musical notes offered by the diatonic scale is the standard one, known for its tones in: Do-Re -My-Fa-Sun-La-Si. It is the simplest scale to learn, so playing such a xylophone is usually easier.
The most complicated scale, but with a greater sound range and with more possibilities of notes for advanced musicians, is called chromatic. It is also known as the twelve-tone scale, and this is because it comes with a succession of 13 musical notes, or semitones, taking into account the octaves. That is to say, C and C # -Re and Re # -Mi and Mi #… until reaching B, which is the only note that does not have a sustained semitone.
If you do not take this into account when comparing xylophones, you may decide on the good and inexpensive option without considering the fact that you may not have the necessary notes to produce a complex piece of music.
Another aspect to highlight is the dilemma that exists between metallophones and xylophones. Technically, metallophones classify as a different instrument to the xylophone, because they are made of different materials, the first has metal sheets while the second has wood sheets. However, despite the difference, their sounds are so similar and their shape is so similar that many people insist on considering the metallophone as a simple metal xylophone. Because of this, you may find several metallophones with the xylophone name on the market.
These usually come in a diatonic scale, however they come in three sizes: soprano, high and low. Depending on the size of your instrument , musical notes may sound higher or lower. Having a metallophone is not bad, but if you are looking for a xylophone, only buy those that are made of wood.
Materials and accessories
Before you find out how much the xylophone costs and buy the cheapest one, remember that bad materials are usually the cause of low prices when it comes to instruments. Xylophones are not exempt from these, because, in the market, you may find metal, wooden or even plastic structures. This not only affects resistance, but also sound quality.
Xylophones have been made of wood for years, therefore, the best option will be to acquire an instrument that is made of wood both in the sheets and in the base structure. If the base is metallic, it is also a resistant product, but if the sheets are also metallic, then you have bought a metallophone. Plastic bases, on the other hand, are used more for children’s xylophones and are not at all recommended for professional use. The drumsticks should always be made of wood, otherwise the sound may change with the impact of another material.
To make your experience better, try to buy xylophones that bring accessories with them, as these will surely facilitate your time with the instrument. Two of the best extras you can get are: a quality case for your xylophone and also an adjustable stand for it.
The case will make it easier to move and store it, preventing bumps and falls that can damage it, and providing comfort. The base will let you play the xylophone while you are standing up, without having to hold it, freeing your hands for more control of the instrument.
Education level and weight
Although almost all xylophones, in addition to children’s models, look exactly the same, not all of them serve the same purpose or are suitable for use by certain types of people. There are xylophones for apprentices and also professionals, so you must be careful when making your purchase.
Young children who are inexperienced in music should always opt for child role models that allow them to become familiar with the sound, the notes and the way of playing it. Even for the youngest, in this case, babies, there are toys for them.
Aim for the lightest xylophones. This will depend on whether you make an effort to wear it, or not.
Frequently asked questions
Q1: What kind of instrument is the xylophone?
Xylophones, being instruments that need to be struck lightly on each sheet in order to produce the vibration that the sound generates, are considered percussion instruments. They are found in the same family of instruments as kick drums, timpani and even drums.
Q2: Xylophone or metallophone, which is better?
It all depends on what you want to search for. Metallophones stand out for producing longer and louder sounds, as metal sheets will always have a longer vibration time than wooden ones, however, if you want the classic sound, then a wooden xylophone is better for you.
Children’s “xylophones”, most of the time, are usually metallophones because of their sound and because of their metal bars. Also because, usually, the musical notes are recorded in the material to facilitate learning. Therefore, if it is an instrument intended for a child, then the metallophone may be a more suitable alternative.
Q3: Where did the xylophone come from?
The origins of the xylophone can be traced back hundreds of years, specifically in the southern part of the Asian continent, where people used sheets of wood separated from each other and when struck they produced a nice sound. This is believed to have taken place in approximately the 14th century.
Starting in the 15th century, the xylophone managed to reach African lands, where it easily mixed with the culture of the region and became part of the music of Africa. With the slave trade in the 16th century, Africans brought the knowledge of this instrument to America and Europe and, what began as a simple instrument, began to take on complexity. On the European continent, drumsticks were generated, standard sizes began to be designed and, after the effort, the xylophone as we now know it was completed.
Q4: How to make homemade bottle xylophone?
Making a homemade xylophone is one of the simplest crafts you can do and it will be quite fun for children.
You will only need 7 glass bottles, with a considerable thickness to prevent them from breaking when hit. Fill each one of them with water, however, start by filling one to the top and gradually begin to decrease the amount of water until the last.
If you want, you can add food coloring to the water to distinguish one note from another. Place them, horizontally, on top of two wooden boards that will meet at each end parallel to each other, and adhere them.
Using cutlery, wooden boards, or whatever else you can think of, you can have drumsticks to play with. With small taps you can start producing the sounds
Q5: How many notes does a xylophone have?
A diatonic xylophone has the 7 standard musical notes, from C to B. While chromatic xylophones have 13 musical notes, six of them, from C to A, bring their respective sustained variants, and finally the B, which has no variant in this scale.
Professionals can have up to 48 musical notes, as they cover different tones such as soprano, bass, etc.
Q6: Which is better, xylophone or marimba?
If you are looking for a smooth and sharp sound, then the marimba is better, as it is tuned from 3 to 5 octaves, even more.
If you want a louder and lower sound, then the xylophone is better, as its pitch ranges from 2 to 4 octaves.
Apart from these aspects, it is difficult to choose the best one, since both instruments are very similar to each other and their structures are almost identical.
Q7: What is a monochrome xylophone?
Monochromatic can refer to colors, because, although there are some colorful xylophones, many have a single color throughout their structure, especially those made of wood both in the sheets and in the frame.
Chromatic, on the other hand, refers to the musical notes that the instrument can produce and establishes that the xylophone has 13 notes, the natural ones from C to B, and the sustained variants from C to A. The Si does not have this variant.
Q8: How is a professional xylophone different from a normal one?
The professional xylophone has, most of the time, various chromatic scales to be played by several people or simply to offer a wider musical range for the xylophonist, as the scales vary from each other by octaves.
Usually, those for apprentices are diatonic versions that facilitate the study of the xylophone, so it is difficult to make complex musical pieces that have a lot of variety in treble and bass.
How to use a xylophone
Xylophones are not as well-known instruments as guitars or drums, however, they belong to the same group of instruments as the latter and also offer the same tuning as pianos, so they can help you play beautiful songs. The difference between a piano and a xylophone is that, unlike the former, the xylophone is easy to play and learn, so you won’t need a lot to know how to use a xylophone and start practicing.
Adjust the base
If you are playing professionally, having a stand or stand is essential for using the xylophone. Therefore, to start with, place your xylophone on the base and adjust it to your height.
Get in good position
Something fundamental to be able to play a xylophone is the position you take with respect to it. Distance is essential, because if you lean a bit on the instrument or your clothes make contact with it, the sound could be affected.
You must be at least 20 cm away from the xylophone, try not to stoop too much and maintain a posture as straight as possible, to avoid pain.
Hold the drumsticks
Grab the drumsticks at the bottom end with a firm grip that doesn’t allow them to slip but doesn’t make your hand hurt either. Keep them a few inches from the surface.
It does not matter if they are not completely straight, because the perfect grip is the one that is most natural for you.
Play the xylophone
Use your wrists to lift and lower the drumsticks naturally. You should not move your arm for this, because, in addition to tiring the arm muscles, the blow may not be precise.
When hitting the wooden sheets, make sure that the force is not too great, as you could damage the xylophone. They should be firm but gentle strokes. Always aim towards the middle of the sheet and strike in the center, because if the drumstick accidentally touches another sheet, the sound will change and the song will be distorted.
When you hit the blade you need to lift the stick again, because if you leave it there, the vibration of the blade will rub against the stick producing distorted sounds. Try to keep your movements between one note and another smooth, and when you don’t have to play for a long period, remove the drumsticks and keep them in the starting position.
By the end
When you’re done using your xylophone, bring a clean, dry tissue and dust off your instrument. Doing this regularly will prevent dust build-up, preventing such build-up from damaging the instrument by blocking blade vibrations.
Never use any cleaning liquid and avoid consuming drinks near the xylophone at all costs, humidity is the enemy of wood and could easily damage your xylophone. Besides that, leave your xylophone in dry places, away from mold, or on floors and walls that easily retain moisture.
For added protection, use an instrument case or case.