Have you ever thought about what a Marimba is made up of or how it makes such unique sounds?
Marimbas are made in various sizes. 36lbs for the very smallest up to beyond 350lb for a full 5+ octave range Marimba. The very dense rosewood and the frame contribute the vast majority of the total weight of a Marimba.
A Marimba produces sound with wood, string and resonator pipes. The wood contributes greatly to the overall weight of a Marimba and is the most important part of making this musical instrument.
The wood used cannot be just any species. In order for the Marimba to produce such soft high and low sounds, it must be made with wood that is considered dense.
Dense wood is also called hardwood. The wood use to make a Marimba is called Rosewood. Rosewood is the go-to when it comes to making Marimbas.
This dense expensive wood is how the Marimba produces 5 octave range sounds. The actual weight of dry Rosewood depends on the type. Here are a few to consider:
- African Rosewood = 45lbs per cubic ft
- Brazilian Rosewood = 52lbs per cubic ft
- Honduran/Honduras Rosewoods = 64lbs per cubic ft
Not all Marimbas use Rosewood so Weigh Less
I know what you are thinking, “How is it possible for Rosewood to weigh 45lbs per cubic ft on its own, dry, but the overall all weight of a finished Marimba weighs 36.15lbs?”
Not all Marimbas are made of Rosewood. Marimbas can also be made of Synthetic or Padauk wood. Synthetic wood is a popular material because it is man-made.
This means that this wood would not be affected by outdoor elements and is not nearly as dense as Rosewood. It weighs much less too.
By the same token Padauk is a lighter, popular material that is used when making Marimbas because it is much less expensive while producing similar sounds to Rosewood.
Marimba Weight Data for Comparisons
Here are some data that will be used for comparison:
(“-“ = not recorded)
|Adams Artist Series
|Majestic Gateway Series
Analyzing this very basic collection of Marimba weights in the table above, you can clearly see the difference Rosewood or Padauk makes when comparing similar sizes and octave ranges.
Professional Marimba Players Will Go With Weight
A professional Marimba player will almost always look for a Marimba made of Honduras Rosewood.
If you go through the table, you see that majority of the Marimbas with 5 octave range have bars made of Honduras Rosewood.
The frame of the marimba will add to the weight of course and is usually made up of sturdy but lighter weight materials.
The resonator pipes are where the majority of the sound is released after you tap your mallets on the bars. Most resonators are made up of aluminum and are relatively lightweight on their own.
The resonators are located just under the bars of the Marimba.
The resonator pipes have a roll in the overall weight of a Marimba of course. And the bigger the octave range, the more bars, the more resonator pipes and the more weight.
It stands to reason the more octaves a Marimba cover, regardless of choice of wood, the instrument is going to weigh more.
Padauk reduces the weight of a Marimba
Marimbas with bars made up of Padauk wood will produce sounds like Rosewood. They are made so well these days that in some cases, the sound of Padauk is actually preferred.
It is possible to create a 5 Octave Marimba with Paduak of course, and the difference in weight is great. For a full 5 Octaves, the weight of the Marimba will be around 40% less.
Custom Built Marimba One Weight
Marimba One provides custom built Marimbas. MA1-9501 is marketed to have the lightest and most durable frame.
You have a few choices on how this Marimba is made. You can choose all wood or all aluminum and wood.
What makes this stand out from other Marimbas is that the MA1-9501 will be custom made to the right height that suits you. No adjustments needed. The 3100 is marketed as the most durable Marimba in market and it is made with more wood.
Why Rosewood is Heaviest and Best
Rosewood is the first choice for the best quality Marimbas and this is also the case for a Xylophone.
This guide to the best woods for xylophone also provides much more information on the different types of rosewood that can be found. So if you would like to read more about the wood itself, please feel free to hit the link and take a look.