Best Xylophone Review in 2018
Purchasing a xylophone for yourself or as a gift can be an intimidating task, considering the number of choices that appear online in a single search. The enormous collection of different models and designs is due to the instrument withstanding many millennia and being altered for use in countless casual, educational, and professional settings. With that in mind, there are a number of things to consider about the xylophone’s design, the setting in which the instrument will be played, and the specific needs of the player to assure that you make the best choice.
What to Consider When Purchasing a Xylophone
The musical setting in which the xylophone will be played is one of the first things to consider when purchasing this instrument. Grade school children, while bright and inquisitive, may be a bit overzealous when striking the bars with their mallets. Because of this, an elementary school teacher looking for a xylophone for his or her classroom would likely benefit from a more durable instrument design. An orchestra musician, on the other hand, would probably be happier with an instrument of superior tonality.
Another common musical setting for the xylophone is your own home. If you are purchasing this instrument for your child or yourself to play at home, you may want to consider the space in which it will be played. A family who has a room dedicated to musical instruments may be more inclined to purchase a full sized xylophone with a stand, while a family with no such room would probably benefit from a smaller, more portable design. For those with children, a portable and compact design is also ideal for storing out of site at the end of the day.
The tuning of your xylophone is another important aspect to consider. Unlike a guitar or a violin, the xylophone cannot be easily tuned by the player. With that in mind, it is vital for the buyer to decide the best key and range for his or her new instrument before making the purchase.
There are several different tunings for the xylophone, including a soprano, alto, and bass range. A bass xylophone has a range of notes between Middle C and A1, an alto xylophone has a range between C1 and A2, and a soprano ranged xylophone consists of notes between C2 and A3. There are also a variety of other ranges dependent on the brand of xylophone. It might be important to consider the range of the instrument if you are purchasing a second or third xylophone for use in an orchestral or band setting.
The key of your new xylophone is also something to consider. Many xylophones are tuned in a chromatic scale, which is the same tuning as a standard piano. This tuning makes it possible to play practically any musical score because the chromatic scale includes all available pitches. Some xylophones are tuned to a major scale, which lacks several notes of the chromatic scale. While you may not be able to play every song on an instrument permanently tuned to a major scale, it is a much simpler design, and it is easier to play.
Material of Bars
In addition to choosing the tuning of your new xylophone, you should also contemplate your preference in bar material. Metal barred xylophones have a higher-pitched, sharper sound than xylophones with wooden bars. These instruments are great for solos that carry over other instruments. Wood-barred xylophones have a warmer, rounder tone. While they can be used to solo as well, the wood-barred xylophone tone blends exceptionally with other wood-barred xylophones.
Another aspect to consider, is whether you want your xylophone to have removable bars. This feature has many possible advantages. For example, if you have additional bars, you can replace the existing ones with different notes to change the instrument’s key. Furthermore, if you are interested in learning how to tune the bars yourself, you would have a much easier time removing and replacing them without the need for power tools or a xylophone expert. For those who are not interested in replacing bars or learning to tune a xylophone, a fixed-bar xylophone would probably be more practical and would eliminate the possibility of accidentally losing a bar.
The last thing you should think about before purchasing a xylophone is the type of mallet you would like to use with your instrument. Mallets are long sticks with round heads that are used to strike the bars of a percussion instrument. Many xylophones are sold with a pair of mallets, but you do not need to limit yourself to the ones in the box. Hard-tipped mallets are best for metal bars, soprano xylophones, and solo parts. Soft-tipped mallets are best for wood bars, alto and bass xylophones, and harmony parts. For more information on the different types of mallets, check out the video below.
Five Best Xylophones
Lyons 25-Note Xylophone
Children, adults, and even professional musicians love the Lyons 25-Note Xylophone. It boasts a durable, compact design with a bright teal case. The steel bars are arranged in a chromatic scale and each can be easily removed for custom tuning. Plastic mallets are also included and fit well inside the case.
Parents who purchase this xylophone, expecting a children’s toy, are often shocked by its superior quality and exceptional sound. The bars are consistently tuned, the tone of the xylophone resonates well, and it is a very durable design. While it seems to be advertised as a children’s instrument, the quality of the xylophone makes it a great fit for any beginner or intermediate musician.
Another feature that makes the Lyons 25-Note Xylophone a good fit for a more advanced player is the instrument’s removable bars. Each bar can be easily removed with your hands by taking off the compressible rubber containers, which means each bar can be replaced or rearranged to create a custom composition. This feature would also be valuable in an educational setting, where students could explore the inner-workings of the instrument.
While this instrument has several great features, there are a few downsides to the design. One of the most reported problems with this xylophone is the quality of the mallets. The hard plastic design does not produce the best sound. Thankfully, this flaw can be easily remedied by purchasing a separate pair of mallets. Another issue with the design is that while the keys can be removed individually, the entire instrument as a whole cannot be removed from its case. This has become a noticeable issue because the case only opens to a ninety-degree angle, making it a bit awkward to play.
The Stagg XYLO-J12 is a twelve-key xylophone tuned to a major scale. The instrument is designed quite simply with wooden bars and a wooden frame that are lightly varnished. A red letter at the center of each bar indicates its assigned note. Additionally, two wooden mallets are included with the purchase of this instrument.
The simple design of the Stagg XYLO-J12 is the most cited reason for purchasing this xylophone. It is a wonderful starting instrument for anyone with no prior musical experience and is a favorite among parents of small children. Inexperienced musicians might find this model appealing because it is arranged in a major scale. This leaves the guess work out of finding scales and opens up infinite melodic possibilities that all sound relatively pleasing to the ear. The tone of the bars is also pleasant and warm.
While the simple design can prove to be advantageous in certain situations, it also has its drawbacks. This xylophone lacks a case or a resonator box, so the sound from the bars, while warm and pleasant, is relatively quiet. The mallets that come with the Stagg XYLO-J12 are also relatively small compared to the size of the xylophone, so using your own mallets may be the most effective way to produce the best sound from this instrument. The keys are also not meant to be removed, though they are fastened with metal screws so it is possible to remove them if you have the right tools.
The D’Luca XL12A is very similar to the Stagg XYLO-J12 in design and sound production. The frame, bars, and mallets are made from unfinished wood. Its bars are arranged in a major scale and each have a red letter designating the note it creates. A notable difference between the two xylophones is that the D’LucaXL12A comes with five instructional song cards, each double-sided. “The Itsy Bitsy Spider,” “The Farmer in the Dell,” and “Row Row Your Boat” are three of the ten songs included on the cards.
Like the previous xylophone, the D’Luca XL12A is well-liked because of its simple design. Its major scale makes it easy to pick out enjoyable melodies and the warm tone of the wooden bars is pleasing to the ear. What sets this xylophone apart from others is the song cards included with the instrument. The cards are a wonderful tool for small children to learn simple melodies and study beginner music theory, making this xylophone a great fit for a classroom or your home.
Like the last xylophone, the simple design of the D’Luca XL12A has a few drawbacks. Because the wood is not finished, it is susceptible to stains and rotting if wetted. Unfinished wood is also likely to splinter into the player’s hands if it was not sanded properly. Additionally, some complained that the notes were not tuned correctly and that they produced a very quiet sound.
Andoer 25-Note Glockenspiel Xylophone
The Andoer 15-Note Glockenspiel Xylophone has a simple yet sturdy design with twenty-five metal bars arranged in a chromatic scale. Each bar is made of high quality aluminum alloy and steel alloy and engraved with the letter of its designated note. The bars are screwed into a wooden frame and arranged like the keys of a piano. Two plastic mallets and a fitted xylophone case are also included with the purchase of the instrument.
Parents and teachers alike recommend the Andoer 25-Note Glockenspiel Xylophone for young music students. The case makes it easy to transport to and from school or music lessons, and the labeled notes are a great addition for beginner students. Because the bars are arranged in a chromatic scale, students can play standard sheet music at a more advanced level than a xylophone arranged in a major scale. The bars are also removable with a screwdriver, which can be a wonderful learning tool or an advantage for an advanced musician who wants to customize his or her instrument.
While there are a lot of great features that come with the Andoer 25-Note Glockenspiel Xylophone, there are a few defects that are worth mentioning. The keys are frequently arranged and labeled incorrectly. For example, G is often where C should be. The plastic mallets are also not an ideal choice for metal bars, though they will do the job if you do not own rubber mallets. Additionally, the screws that fasten the bars are often loose at arrival and require manual tightening.
Sound Percussion Labs Bell Kit
Intermediate and advanced musicians would likely enjoy the Sound Percussion Labs Bell Kit. The steel-barred xylophone is arranged in a chromatic scale, fit for playing any score written in twelve-tone equal temperament. This xylophone comes with several useful accessories including an instrument stand, a sheet music holder, a case, and a practice drum pad. Rubber mallets and drumsticks are also included with the purchase of this instrument. Additionally, the bars are removable by screwdriver, making this a great choice for those who want to replace or alter the bars.
The Sound Percussion Labs Bell Kit is geared towards intermediate to advanced xylophone players who are probably upgrading from a beginner instrument. This would be a perfect xylophone for a band student or a member of an orchestra who wants to practice from home but cannot take his or her orchestra’s full-sized xylophone with them. The rolling case also makes this xylophone a great choice for students who need to transport their instrument to and from their lessons.
While this xylophone has few downsides, problems may arise because of how many accessories come with the instrument. If you plan on travelling frequently with the instrument, it may be a bit cumbersome to constantly put together and take down the whole set up several times a day. Furthermore, while this is definitely an instrument for the intermediate to advanced player, it does not have a resonator box, which is standard in most higher-end xylophone models. Aside from that, the instrument is quite well built and can serve many different types of players.
While each of these xylophones is suited for playing in different musical settings, the clear winner of this roundup is the Sound Percussion Labs Bell Kit. It boasts an array of accessories, including rubber mallets, which are the best choice for playing steel bars, and it is arranged in a chromatic scale which is perfect for recreating any musical score. This xylophone is advanced enough to appease an intermediate student looking for a practice instrument, but simple enough to be played by a grade school student who is just beginning his or her musical studies. Because of its transferability across many skill levels, the included accessories, and its quality design, the Sound Percussion Labs Bell Kit is the best choice of xylophone in this round up.