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Timber for Xylophone Bars - (Discussions with Greg)

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-----Original Message-----
From: Greg
Sent: 29 Jan 2009
Subject: Timber for Xylophone Bars
Hello Jim, thanks for your recent response to a Q, regarding xylophone bars. I currently have a Korogi (Karin wood) pit xylo that I really like. However, due to the size of the bars it is limited. I would like your insight on Karin wood vs. Pauduk……Rosewood has become fairly expensive. Finally, how compatible are the Pauduk xylophone bars (strong) with mallets made of a poly material?


Hi Greg
To be honest, I'm pretty unfamiliar with Karin wood - I've heard the name mentioned but that's about it. I can certainly speak favorably about Pauduk in relation to rosewood when it comes to a marimba range - certainly in the lower end. The sound is every bit as good and in the case of bass marimbas I think even better. Considering the massive price difference it's my #1 choice. The problem with Pauduk come in the top octave of a marimba range and in the xylophone range. The timber is a little lighter and less hard/durable than rosewood. The light weight is not a problem with the bigger bars, but in the higher range, the small size of the bars means that they can be light enough to bounce easily. They can tend to bounce right out of the string guides. The other issue is the one you mention. The harder mallets which tend to be used on xylophones will have a destructive effect on pauduk bars over time. Actually hard playing with small headed hard mallets will kill ANY bar over time, but the rosewood is certainly more likely to last well over Pauduk. I don't think you will notice a huge difference in quality of sound between the timbers, but the longevity of the bars is the issue.

By the way Greg - do you happen to know… what actually IS Karin? Is it a separate tree altogether and if so what family is it - or is it an alternative name for something else?

All the best.
Jim McCarthy

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Thanks, it is part of the eucalyptus family and harder than Paduk.. I have a pit size made by Korogi, works for small places and some shows. But have concerns about traditional size xylos.

Very interesting - thanks for the info. Here in Australia, we are of course very familiar with the Eucalyptus family in general - although it is a family with a big variety! What are the concerns you have for Karin bars of a bigger size?

Thanks tonation

Mmmm - I see what you mean. My personal thought on that would be that if the lower notes on your pit xylo sound acceptable to you, then the chances are that you would feel ok about a full sized instrument with the same timber. I'm assuming your pit xylo is one of those ones with no resonators? If so then the longer bars at the lower end might sound a little clunky on a full instrument if the timber is not 100% sweet, but it would probably be offset by a reasonable amount by the addition of the resonators - I hope that makes sense. The top end bars on a full size instrument would likely not differ that much from those on your pit xylo anyway.

That would be my 2 cents on that subject anyway.
Good luck with your choices!

Making Marimbas, Xylophones & Vibraphones is now Easy
Building Guides for Making Marimbas, Xylophones, Vibraphones and Metalophones
Get These Comprehensive Plans & Instructions with Video!

answers by Jim MCCarthy - 01/12/2005

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