So you have decided to play the glockenspiel? That or you have stumbled here after finally searching for the word after years of wondering. Either way stick around and we will shed some light on it.
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The fabled glockenspiel is another member of the struck key percussion instruments, as is the marimba and xylophone which we have duly reviewed. The glockenspiel is a metallophone as the bars are made from metal and not wood, just like the marimba. Unlike the marimba, the glockenspiel does not have resonance tubes underneath. Another dissimilarity is that the glockenspiel is played nearly exclusively with hard mallets whereas the marimba will also use soft mallets, which is why you can draw a soft warm melody from it. It is limited to the upper range and so only covers up to 3 octaves which makes it more limited than its African cousin.
I assume that answers your question?
They are also used frequently in marching and military bands, although those are usually smaller and so harnessed to the player. They frequently pop up in contemporary music such as Jimi Hendrix ‘Little Wing’, Gotye, Panic at the Disco and quite a few songs by Radiohead, including the ethereal cover below which we absolutely love:
As you can hear, the glockenspiel’s tone is bell-like and charmingly ethereal, which is why Radiohead, arguably one of the musically most talented bands use it so frequently. When played well, it’s bright and piercing timbre is beautifully haunting.
Fortunately this percussive instrument is very easy to pick up and start playing which makes it a great piece to learn on. These reviews are full full-size starter sets.
|Model||Name/ Rating||Summary||Check Price|
CB Percussion 6854 Bell Kit
Score: (4.65 / 5)
|Basic 25 note kit with a hard case. Wonderful for younger students|
GP Percussion Bell Kit
Score: (4.7 / 5)
|Perfect 2.25 octave practice kit with solid hardware|
Gearlux 32-Note Bell Kit
Score: (4.50 / 5)
|Similar to the GP Percussion kit with a further 2 bars, another great entry-level kit|
Giantex Percussion 30-Note Bell Kit
Score: (4.40 / 5)
|Cheapest 30 note kit. Perfect practice tool|
Sonor Primary Line Alto Glockenspiel Diatonic
Score: (4.50 / 5)
|Beautifully crafted and incredible sound. Only 16 bars. Good for younger kids|
Top of our list is the perfect Glock for beginners. A basic 25 note kit with a hard case, it is wonderful for younger students from as early as 5, but still a good start for the more mature pupil. It sounds good, each key is removable, and for under $100 it is an incredibly affordable, if not basic, glockenspiel that is ideal for practicing until you progress. All being contained in a hard case, it is fantastically portable and well protected.
GP, known for their affordable percussion instruments have once again created one that is quality and well priced. You get a 30 note (2.25 octave) set, an adjustable heavy duty double braced stand with a music rack, a practice pad, sticks, 2 pairs of mallets and a heavy duty rolling carry case all for under $120! Considering how much you are paying it is pretty good quality and sounds fairly decent. It is not for concerts but as a practice tool it is perfect. Unlike the others on the list, the hardware, stand and case are actually good quality and the glockenspiel comes with a one year warranty. We would highly recommend this one!
This well-constructed glockenspiel by Gearlux is remarkable value for money. You get a 32 note (2.5 octaves) set, an adjustable stand with a music rack, a practice pad, sticks, mallets and a carrying bag all for under $150! Considering how much you are paying, it is pretty good quality and sounds fairly decent. You can’t expect to be lighting up halls with it any time soon but for the price, you can’t beat it. The tone is fairly good across the board and they ring decently if not a little short.
Our biggest gripe is mounting it on to the stand. The screws are poorly designed and it is a bit of a hassle, but other than that it is great!
Very similar to the Gearlux set in at number 2, in fact, we wouldn’t be surprised if it was actually manufactured by the same company. This set is only a 30 note ranging 2.5-octave bells from G5 – C8. At under $70 this is as cheap as you will find any new instrument with all the extras. Again considering the price, the quality and sound are good. As with the Gearlux, the only downside is the stand being cheap and fiddly. This is a must buy on a budget.
This glockenspiel by Sonor is very much to help young kids get an understanding of sound and resonance. It is beautifully constructed and whilst it is only 16 bar each bar sounds incredible and is marked with the note names & notation symbols. The note range is C2 to A3 with two F-sharp and one B-flat bar included. It comes with mallets and is the perfect teaching tool but that is not to say older people can not use it as a studying tool, however, given how limited the range is it would limit progression if the aim was to advance quickly. Perfect for kids and teaching youngsters.
Hopefully you are now armed with enough information to make a good decision on what kit suits you. The glockenspiel is a great gateway instrument for the struck key family. The entry-level kits are affordable and accessible. So whether you decide to stick with the glockenspiel or move to the marimba, xylophone or any other vibraphone, these kits are the perfect way to introduce yourself to this striking percussive group.