A Guide To Singing Bowl Mallets & How To Use Them

A Guide To Singing Bowl Mallets & How To Use Them

Tibetan singing bowls are renowned the world over for their distinctive tones, vibrating frequencies and calming sounds. From ambient recording artists to people experimenting with mindfulness practice for the first time, the unique qualities of a singing bowl are always sure to make a long-lasting impression. 

But they don’t just make those ethereal sounds on their own. You need to have singing bowl mallets to coax these near-mystical resonances out of them. 

So we’re going to take a look at the benefits of using a good singing bowl mallet with your singing bowl. We’ll show you how to use sound bowl mallets, as well as discussing some of the implications of different sized singing bowls and using mallets

But first – let’s take a look at why people use singing bowls, and the types of singing bowl strikers

Singing bowls, their mallets and their uses

Singing bowls are often referred to as “Tibetan singing bowls”, but their exact origins are a little more vague. We speak about this a bit more elsewhere in our blogs, so make sure that you have a browse around the site. 

But suffice to say that since the late 1960s or early 1970s, singing bowls have emerged as a very popular meditation tool. They’re most commonly seen in Buddhist and New Age settings, but it’s not unusual to see them used in more secular mindfulness practices too. 

So why mallets? Well, mallets are used to play them for two main reasons – consistency of sound and to prevent damage to the bowl itself. 

Singing bowls can be quite fragile. Striking a bowl with your knuckles or another implement can potentially cause damage to it, or even your hand! 

Similarly, when you’re playing with a rimming technique, mallets provide you with an implement that will yield a consistent sound. Metal implements or other household items may temporarily work – but they can also damage the bowl’s rim and cause it to become uneven in the long term. 

The specific reasons people use singing bowls vary. Some people have a deep belief in sound healing and feel that singing bowls can aid with a range of restorative effects in their mind and body.

For others, it can be linked with related – but often distinct – ideas about chakra notes, with the aim of restoring proper function and balance to the body. 

And of course, some people simply find that a droning noise – like the one that a singing bowl produces – is a useful aid for getting into a meditative state of mind. 

So if you’re using a singing bowl in a group setting, don’t be surprised to find users that have varying ideas about the sacred, the mundane and their relationship to singing bowls within the same room. 

Though the jury remains out on how useful they are when it comes to dealing with serious physical issues, there is some research indicating that they can be useful for reducing anxiety

Types of singing bowl mallets 

Below are some of the most common types of singing bowl strikers available. It’s not unusual for people to own several mallets for different bowls in their collection, or simply to produce a range of different sounds. 

However, these aren’t the only types of mallets that people use. Most local music stores also stock a range of striking implements – such as xylophone mallets from Ludwig – which may be appropriate for use, too. We encourage you to experiment; just make sure you do so gently. 

  • Leather/suede-covered mallets – Typically made out of wood and featuring one end wrapped in soft leather or suede, these are probably the most common style of mallet for modern players. Well-suited to both striking and rimming, they’re a must-have in any singing bowl collection. 
  • Rubber mallets – Particularly popular for new players who enjoy striking the bowl, rubber mallets are usually made out of wood and feature a rubber head. This rubber head may be shaped in a variety of different ways, but they’ll give you a satisfying bell-like tone. 
  • Wooden singing bowl strikers – Purported to be the traditional style of singing bowl mallet, these are less common today. Although they can be effective playing tools, they tend to produce a much harsher tone than their leather-covered companions.
  • Crystal singing bowl mallet – Designed for use with crystal singing bowls, these are typically double-ended with crystal on one side and rubber or suede on the other. Although the suede end may be usable for rimming, we’d advise against using the crystal end on a metal bowl. It may cause damage.  
  • Nepali felt mallets – Most commonly used for playing larger singing bowls and striking, these mallets have a wooden handle with a large felt head that somewhat resembles a squashed cylinder. They’re often impressive centrepieces of a collection in their own right. 
  • Xcelite Mallet – Made from a modified screwdriver handle, Xcelite handles are typically used by professional musicians to produce a louder sound from the bowl for recording purposes. They’re rarely seen in day-to-day singing bowl use. 

Different sized singing bowls and using mallets

Singing bowls and singing bowl mallets are both made in a wide range of different sizes, which can be a bit overwhelming for the new buyer.

There aren’t hard and fast rules about which mallet should be used on a specific bowl. But a good rule of thumb is that the mallet and the bowl should be roughly proportionate with one another. 

Similarly, it also depends what you want to do with a bowl. Smaller bowls tend to be easier to perform rimming with, while larger bowls tend to pronounce more resonant sounds when striking them. 

So when you’re picking a mallet, the main things to keep in mind are its size and purpose. 

How to use sound bowl mallets 

Sound bowl mallets are typically used in two main ways – Ringing (or striking) and rimming. 

Ringing is exactly what it sounds like. You simply strike the side of the bowl lightly, to create a bell-like tone that will ring out and gradually fade. 

Rimming is somewhat similar to playing a glass harp, though you’re using a mallet instead of fingers. The mallet is run around the rim of the bowl at a consistent pressure and even angle, which generates a distinctive and eerie drone. 

It may take a bit of practice to get this right, but you’ll find that you should be able to pick it up fairly quickly. Consistency is key. 

You can learn more about both these techniques in our article on how to play singing bowls

Explore different types of singing bowl mallets at Mindful Store 

Here at Mindful Store, we stock an extensive range of Tibetan singing bowls, along with accompanying mallets. We also sell a wide variety of meditation products, designed to help enhance your meditation and mindfulness practice.

You can also learn more about singing bowls and their use on our blog, which is updated regularly with new articles. And if you have any questions about a particular product or technique, you can also get in contact with the team at Mindful Store, too – we’ll be more than happy to point you in the right direction. 

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