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Glockenspiel - need help deciding which kind to purchase?
Old 29th July 2008
Registered User

Thread Starter
Glockenspiel - need help deciding which kind to purchase?


I am interested in making some purchases of some of these malleted precussion instruments to make my collection of recording tools a little more interesting.

I have become overwhelmed looking at the different manufacturers websites by all the different choices of Glockenspiels and Metallophones.

I know that I want a glockenspiel or a Metallophone but I am not sure of the difference between them in sound?

I also notice that there are 2 disticntly differnt froms of these:

1. smaller glockenspiels and metallophones that are sort of like a toy - just a row of bars laid out on a wooden box from longest to shortest.

The main companies making these are Studio 49 and Sonor

2. larger "concert bells" glockenspiels that are two rows of bars arranged like a piano keyboard and setup on two different levels mounted in a carrying case. These seem to be the proper orchestra version. But perhaps the smaller version has a cooler sound?

The main companies making these are Musser, Yamaha, CB Percussion and Ross Mallet

I'm not sure what either sound like.

I want an instrument that uses the metal bars rather than the wooden ones. It would be nice if there were some sound clips to show what each one sounded like but since there are not, you are getting this question.

Where should I begin?

Which of these instruments is usually the most popular with people recording?
I am wanting something for recording that will add something magical to guitar, bass, piano, cello and drum tracks.

Which offer the most tone and the longest sustain?

What are the differences in sound between the metallophones and the glockenspiels if you could describe them in words?

Any advice or help from people that use these instruments for recording and have expereince with them would be more than appreciated!

Thanks for reading,

Old 29th July 2008
Gear Addict

You will do well to contact Gilberto Serna in Chicago. He's in the old Deagan factory somewhere downtown I think. He sells and refurbishes old mallet instruments, and the older ones are decidedly better.

I wouldn't buy a new set of orchestra bells (glockenspiel). The old Deagan round tops are among the lovliest. I used a set of those one one of my albums, and on another album I used some Mussers; the Deagans were clearer, prettier, rounder, warmer, purer, and overall the playing experience was more peaceful and grounding.

Visit with Gilberto, he knows more than anyone else I know (and I'm a percussion historian).
Old 29th July 2008
Gear Addict

I'm sure the previous poster knows a lot better than I do as far as subtle nuances and tones of glockenspiels go... I've easily obsessed as much a million times over with guitar tone.

That said, I bought a used Ludwig model (2 tier as you mentioned) off of eBay for somewhere in the neighborhood of $200. I've used it on home recordings and it sounds great, and whaddya know... I went to Silver Sonya in VA to record some solo material that needed glockenspiel, and they just so happened to have the same one.

I think less expensive orchestral instruments can fool all but the most seasoned ears, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Just get your ideas across.
Old 29th July 2008
Lives for gear
Sk106's Avatar

continuing on the above suggestions ... Musser, a division of ludwig, offers the classic oldfashioned sound. Bright, sweet and round. I got one of those. Yamaha is very balanced, just straight up an impeccable sound and no personality. A safe bet. Deagan I have no experience with, but it's one of the top 5 manufactorer names for sure.

'Metallophone' however, is not a term that's commonly used by percussionists, and metallophone certainly isn't a specific instrument - in any traditional terminology. Rather, it's what historians calls instruments with metal membranes. All melodic percussion in the family of glockenspiel are referred to as Mallets. The other members of the family are Marima, Xylophone, Vibraphone and Tubular bells - and possibly Celesta. The marimba, xylophone and vibraphone are large instruments that costs $$. If you want "magic" then the vibraphone or Celesta would be it - it's got the longest sustains too. But I'd be surprised if anyone but a serious percussionist bought a vibraphone and certainly a celesta for personal use. It's big and costs too much to "just have around".

Check out this Vibraphone solo YouTube - Gary Burton Vibraphone Solo
and a vid of celesta, which is a dull and dark glockenspiel played by piano keys: YouTube - celesta

The glockenspiel is the "serious" version of this: and the real thing looks kinda like this And on the following link you got a pic and 3 audiofiles of the glockenspiel: Glockenspiel, Percussion Instrument

Glockenspiel is about the brightest instrument you'll ever find, especially when played with metal head sticks - penetrates anything and could damage your hearing if you're not careful. Play a rapid series of notes and the sound will blare your ears. It distorts. Engineers are often amazed when close micing glockenspiel, since you gotta set the input gain really low. The sound mass ain't loud at all, but the high freqs are shattering.

Hope this helps some. Good luck.
Old 13th August 2008
Registered User

Thread Starter
What do you think of the smaller "Studio49" glockenspiels?

They are sort of like a toy glockenspiel in appearance with their Alto version only having one row of metal bars that increase in length. These metal bars sit on top of an elongated trapezoidal shaped wooden box that acts as a resonator for the metal bars.

However, they cost around $270 and are said to be a serious high quality instrument.

Anyone used one of these?

Old 13th August 2008
they look cool, do they make a chromatic version (one the looks like a keyboard with white/black keys)?
Old 13th August 2008
Old 13th August 2008
Lives for gear
VitaEtMusica's Avatar

I bought one of these (the ax27ng) for my girls. They pulled it out and started playing it and I was like, what the?! That thing sounds awesome! I let them play with it for a few days- it's been in my studio ever since (last Christmas). Great build quality, and very nice sound- ok, well, it sounds like a toy, but I love that it sounds like a toy that's really in tune. A lot of the harshness or roundness depends on the mallet. I looked around really quick and found these tunes using the bells:

You could obviously do better, but for the price, these are very usable.

Glockenspiel xylophone(AX-27K,27NG,26N,27N,25N3,25N2,ARX-8N,AX-3083)

Old 3rd October 2008
Gear Nut

im curious if anyone happens to know about the different sounds of some of these glocks?
i know the sound that some of these higher end glocks like musser, yamaha, etc, make.
but, as far as octave range, which one is the same as a chromatic band style glockenspiel... out of the sonor, lyons, studio 49 ones... soprano or alto?
there seems to be nowhere to listen to any of these. i even tried customer service at a large online music store, and they couldnt give me any answers.
Old 3rd October 2008
Lives for gear
Santiago's Avatar

My girlfriend is German and recently lent me her childhood Studio 49 glockenspiel. It is very small and high in pitch, but actually sounds great and is very precisely tuned. Of course, it’s a small glockenspiel and some of the high notes do not have all that much sustain, but it does record very well.

My recording technique is to place an old ribbon microphone (figure eight) under the glockenspiel, very close to the bars, but with the figure eight horizontal, parallel to them. This way it does not catch so much the sound of the mallets hitting the bars (which can sound pretty loud in these small children glockenspiel)

I found at a fleamarket half an old British-made Granton glockenspiel (like the one featured here DeeP Music - Instrument Repairs ) (I say half as it had just one of the wooden frames, but all of the metal bars, so I can place the ones I need for each song depending on the scales I want to use. I play alternative rock pop kind of stuff so it’s not too bad. I can imagine how it would be limiting for a jazz player, though!).

Although the frame is cracked, the register is quite low and the sound is lovely, deep and resonant. I plan to fix the frame with glue and use it for recording. I will not be able to place the microphone under the bars this time, but I will try to find a different microphone placement that performs well.

Old 4th October 2008
Gear Nut

also, does anybody have any opinions of steel bars vs. aluminum bars?
Old 4th October 2008
Lives for gear
TurboJets's Avatar
Originally Posted by VitaEtMusica View Post
A lot of the harshness or roundness depends on the mallet.

Composite (hard rubber) sound less harsh than wooden mallets. Wooden mallets will offend you.
Old 27th June 2013
Gear interested
woodbalafons's Avatar

On scales: for those who want an instrument for playing around intuitively, the pentatonic tuning is better (the 'sort of like a toy' thing - usually, ten tones in a row), and those who will want to play particular songs or accompany other instruments, should choose the full chromatic version (arranged like a piano keyboard).
Old 27th June 2013
Gear Nut
Tom Hicks's Avatar

I was the QC guy for years for a vendor of Studio 49 and other brands of glocks, xylophones and metallophones. Ever look at the small circular depressions on the underside of the bars? They are tuned from underneath using a drill press.

I wanted to underscore the significance of mallet choice in the tone production. Mallets are relatively cheap, and the different head material choices (felt, wood, plastic, rubber etc.) makes a huge difference in variations of tone and sustain. Get a handful of different types of mallets and you expand the utility of the glock.
Old 27th June 2013
Lives for gear

Glockenspiel sounds funny. Like lederhosen. Or gunter glieben glauchen globen.
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