The Very Best Gong Mallet

Gong players often ask me, “What is the best Gong?”

I usually have many different responses to that question. Strangely, however, they rarely ask me, “What is the best gong mallet?”

And I do have one consistent answer for that question.

Cosmic question mark

The best gong mallet is probably smaller than the one you are using.

Some gong makers recommend you use a mallet based entirely on the size of the Gong. Gong players also think that, like a gong, a bigger mallet always makes a bigger sound. And usually both the gong maker and the player are misguided.

If you are playing the gong for healing, therapy, relaxation or meditation, your mallet needs are different than those who are playing the gong as a musical instrument in a band or orchestra. 

Gong makers have traditionally specified mallet sizes for their gongs, which are used as musical instruments that are often played for short periods of time, as an accent or supporting sound.  Think of that one big gong strike that occurs in a crescendo of sound or, in other words, short term gong playing

Why do gong strokes sound different even in different recordings of the  same classical piece sometimes deep and bassy, sometimes tinny (take  Tchaikovsky's Manfred symphony for instance)? - Quora

Gong players who play for relaxation, meditation or therapy will typically play the gong continuously for 5 to 20 minutes or more, or long term gong playing. 

The mallet size specified by gong makers for short term playing is too heavy and not subtle enough for long term playing.

And while a large mallet can produce one large sound when struck correctly, you can build and create a larger wall of sound with smaller mallets. Why? 

You can increase the rhythm more quickly for a longer period with a smaller mallet, and you are able to hold the firmness of your strike, which controls volume, more consistently and longer than with a larger mallet.

And all of this is especially true if you use a pair of smaller mallets to work with volume and sound.

The smaller mallets allow for more quickness and subtlety of playing, able to dance and skip around your gong than the heavier and larger mallet.

Obviously “small” and “large” are relative terms both for gongs and mallets. However, in my experience and training courses I almost never tell someone they need a larger mallet. I almost always say they need a smaller mallet than the one they are using.

Please notice that large mallets are good – very, very good – for certain strikes and for gongs 32 inches and more. I love large mallets for those deep strikes and sounds that can open (or end) a gong playing session.

Ideally, you should have at least one “large” mallet and a pair of smaller mallets. Even better, another pair of mallets sized between your large and small mallets will be appreciated.

And of course, you can add the specialty mallets that produce their own unique sounds. I generally find that I like to use five to seven mallets when I play the Gong.

Before you buy your next gong, buy more mallets – please.

Want to see the mallets that I love and helped design? Check these out!

Gong Mallets

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