- “Lesson Pages FAQ Pages”

by James Walker

In addition to the online lessons offered here, I thought I’d share my answers to questions commonly posed to me either by my private students, at clinics, from audience members at gigs, or from other individuals via e-mail. Click on a topic below to open that particular FAQ page in a new window.

(Please note that the opinions expressed here are those of James Walker, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of any of the other musicians at

“What’s the difference between a xylophone, a vibraphone, and a marimba?”

“What are the best mallets to use?”

“Should I use rattan- or birch-handle mallets?”

“Should I play four mallets or two mallets?”

“Which four-mallet grip is the best four-mallet grip?”

“The Stevens grip is for marimba and the Burton grip is for vibraphone, right? My teacher had me learn Stevens grip for my marimba lessons, and now that we’re doing a vibes piece, he’s making me learn the Burton grip.”

“How do I play six mallets?”

“What books do you recommend for vibraphone and marimba studies?”

“Who are the best (jazz) vibraphonists to listen to? What recordings do you recommend?”

“I just bought a mallet synth - what module has the best vibraphone and marimba sounds?”

“Should I use pickups or microphones to amplify my vibraphone?”

What does YMMV mean?

“I want to major in percussion when I go to college - where should I go to school?”

“Where can I find a good - and inexpensive - vibraphone?”

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