The marimba is a popular tuned percussion instrument commonly used in solo performances, orchestras, marching bands, jazz bands and more.
Being such a beloved and accepted instrument, there are now a variety of marimba makers and brands to choose from. With such a wide variety of marimbas on the market, knowing the top brands is useful.
Of course, the brand is far from the most important aspect of an instrument, though it's still worth considering for general knowledge and judgment. In this article, I'll share my take on the top marimba brands.
Though obviously subjective and prone to biases, I've done my best to list out these brands based on the following metrics (in no particular order):
- Company reputation
- Performance of the marimbas
- Longevity of the marimbas
- Variety of marimbas available
- Accessibility of the marimbas (how easy they are to find/buy)
- The company must currently be in operation
With all that being said, let's list out the brands.
The Top 11 Best Marimba Brands Are:
- Majestic Percussion
- Demorrow Marimbas
- Marimba One
- Coe Percussion
Let's get into each of these brands in greater detail and explain why they belong in the top 11 best marimba brands. I'll share their country of origin, a bit of history, an example of a notable marimba, and a link to their official website.
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By the time the Rock N' Roll revolution hit Europe in the 1960s, Van der Glas was already the go-to option for percussion instruments in the continent. Thus, they were among the top providers of much-needed drum kits at the time.
In 2003, it captured the attention of musical instrument giants KHS. After the acquisition, the status of Majestic Percussion grew by nurturing its best practices with world-class advice from experts.
Marimbas made by Majestic are among the best in the world; if you haven't already, give them a try.
Notable marimba: Majestic Percussion M850HB
This full-fled, 5-octave marimba is the next step for marimba design in the world. Indeed, the modular frame featuring a central truss system and the Uni-Lift single-side height adjustment makes this a very modern instrument that, at the same time, evokes the quintessential timeless marimba sounds.
Also, the floating, optimized geometry, pure rosewood bars produce the perfect blend of rumbling lows and detailed highs. The evolution of marimbas has a name: Majestic Percussion. If you haven't already, give it a try before you buy.
André Adams was an engineer who spent as many hours working as he did with his hobby: making percussion instruments. Thus, he started in the business like many others do, fixing instruments for fun and as a research process to understand what makes a great marimba.
With time, dedication, passion, and a lot of hard work, André was able to dedicate 100% of his effort to making the best instruments he possibly could. Nowadays, Adams has grown to become one of Europe's best-regarded brands for percussive instruments.
If you are after an instrument built with the level of detail only passion can give, you have to try an Adams marimba before buying anything else.
Notable marimba: Adams Alpha Series Marimba
The Alpha Series by Adams is the pinnacle of years of hard work and innovation. Indeed, this 5-octave beauty features a keyboard made with precious Honduras Rosewood tuned to A=442.
Speaking of which, the Alpha tuning system is the most revolutionary addition to a marimba in the past decades. It can allow the player to get spot-on sounds regardless of the weather conditions, the size of the venue, or the playing style.
Finally, this engineering wonder comes in an assortment of colours and styles to choose from. For those after excellence, this is the perfect instrument to buy.
Yamaha has a strong presence in concert halls and stages around the world. Indeed, the elite-level pianos, brass, percussion, and mallet instruments are among the best in the world. Every Yamaha instrument results from over 100 years of non-stop innovation and a strong commitment to excellence.
If that sounds like the kind of instrument you're after, trying a Yamaha before buying is a must.
Notable marimba: Yamaha YM-6100
Keiko Abe is not only an accomplished marimba player; he is a legend. Thus, when such a player joins forces with one of the most revered brands in the world, the results are nothing short of magical. That is exactly the word to describe the top-of-the-line marimba by Yamaha.
To begin with, Yamaha redesigned the tuning system exclusively to please Keiko's ears; therefore, you'll play in tune in every venue.
Also, the rosewood bars produce the quintessential marimba sound. Finally, the plethora of pitch control and height adjustment pieces makes it easy to achieve exactly the sound you want every time you play it.
Besides being a creative instrument maker, Clair Omar Musser was also an accomplished musician and bandleader. The experience he gathered first-hand by playing countless marimbas and hearing them as a bandleader proved critical to designing an instrument that can outdo all competition.
With this clear goal in mind, Musser and Ludwig (two restless innovators) joined forces under the motto: “Total Percussion”. As a result, the marimbas from Musser-Ludwig are among the best in the world. If you haven't already, try one today; they will surprise you.
Notable marimba: Musser M500 Concert Grand Soloist
The Musser M500 is the most technically advanced marimba the company has ever made. This 5-octave soloist-oriented marimba features hand-tuned Honduras rosewood bars that provide the quintessential marimba tone with a dark and rich tone.
Moreover, the turntable aluminum resonators allow players to tune the instrument to adapt to temperature, acoustics, and humidity. Finally, the entire instrument can be disassembled for easy transportation.
If your budget allows it, you have to try one of these before buying anything else.
Doug's history with marimbas goes back to his college years. He was a percussion student at Henderson University, working as a woodworker to pay for his education. Although his main focus was to become an outstanding player, he honed his skills, achieving a level of detail in his creations he never thought possible.
The leverage from the academic side and the experience working with wood make DeMorrow marimbas some of the best in the market right now. Furthermore, they are not only professional-grade instruments, but they look outstanding, too.
Trying a DeMorrow marimba is an absolute must if you aim at excellence.
Notable marimba: DeMorrow M5 Concert Marimba
DeMorrow's take on a concert marimba is one of the finest instruments on this list. The hand-picked, graded Honduras rosewood bars give the sound an extra touch of depth you'll recognize instantly.
Adding to that, the solid oak bar rails and head plates, along with the brass resonators, make this a loud and proud instrument while retaining the ethereal quality of the mallet action. Finally, the entire structure is 100% rattle-free.
Ron Samuels was a Psychology student at Humboldt State University when he took his first marimba lessons. Soon after, he learned they were out of his budget; therefore, he dropped out of college to pursue a career as a woodworker and build his own marimbas.
The commitment he made when he was 25 years old is still holding strong, and Ron Samuels has become one of the strongest names in the marimba world today. Moreover, all Marimba One instruments are proudly designed and built in sunny California.
Give them a try before you buy; you'll recognize the passion behind every note.
Notable marimba: Marimba One Izzy
The Izzy is the company's flagship instrument. Indeed, this height-adjustable marimba is so light and yet so sturdy that it can easily be transported while remaining durable and reliable.
Furthermore, the gas springs in the end frames make height adjustment completely effortless. Finally, the option of black aluminum and wood or all-wood rails makes it a flexible, adaptable, and great-sounding instrument.
Try a Marimba One today; they are among the best in the market.
Leigh Howard Stevens is one of the most important names in the marimba world; firstly, as an accomplished player. Following his world-class reputation as a player came the learning years as a consultant for Musser-Ludwig, improving their tuning system. Finally, as an educator with one of the most broadly used marimba learning books in the market.
This long journey in the marimba world makes Leigh Howard Stevens a legend and makes Malletech one of the best sounding, best made, most innovative marimbas in the world. Try one today if you haven't already; you'll feel the difference instantly.
Notable marimba: Malletech MJB Black
The MJB is Malletech's flagship model, making it one of the best marimbas in the world. This particular iteration of their famous design comes in a sleek black finish that is perfect for stages and settings that require stealth appearances by the mallet player.
In other words, if you want the music to make all the talking while playing effortlessly over the hand-picked Honduran rosewood bars and the near-silent frame, you can't overlook the Malletech MJB Black.
It took years for Leigh Howard Stevens to make this impeccable design; it will take you seconds to realize it is among the best you've ever played.
To say that Bergerault is the lifetime achievement of a natural-born innovator is to fall short of the description. Indeed, Albert Bergerault was, at his time, the only xylophone maker in France. This passion for mallet instruments led him to break all the moulds is the same passion that fuels every design and construction decision made by the company.
If you want a marimba made with passion, know-how, and excellence, trying a Bergerault model before buying is a must.
Notable marimba: Bergerault Signature Solo Marimba
This five-octave instrument's keyboard is made of AAA-quality Honduran rosewood, sitting on top of an all-mahogany resonator. This combination of tonewoods gives this marimba a dark, rich, and full tone that is just as musical as it is ethereal.
Also, the hydropneumatic cylinders make height adjustment a breeze. Finally, every unit ships out with a protective cover to ensure long years of flawless playing.
Korogi is a company based on a simple concept: superior timber can create a superior tone. This is not just a statement for the company; it results from more than half a century of making top-notch instruments.
Indeed, the drying, aging, and hand-picking of the rosewood for the keyboard is done in-house. This allows the company to have complete control over humidity, density, and resonance.
As a result, every Korogi marimba made with that level of detail is ready to take over any stage.
Notable marimba: Korogi Perfection Marimba PF3000CC
With a keyboard entirely made of AAA extra-high grade Honduras rosewood bars, this marimba is the flagship model of Korogi and a rare case of “it looks as good as it sounds”. Indeed, the hardwood frame is not only virtually noiseless but also adds warmth and depth to the sound while remaining sturdy and dependable.
Furthermore, the fully-insulated bar support posts help achieve maximum sustain, eliminating wood-to-metal contact while you're playing.
The flagship model by Korogi is one of the best instruments you'll play in the mallet percussion field.
Matt Coe holds a Bachelor's degree in music education, which means he has an insight into the nuances of the instrument that allow a different level of precision and an uncanny approach.
Moreover, as a long-standing member of the Percussive Arts Society and the NAPBIRT (National Association of Professional Band Instrument Repair Technicians), Coe Percussion has worked on more marimbas than most other brands on the list.
That being said, what sets Coe Percussion apart from all competition is that all the building process happens in-house, working closely with the design department. As a result, every marimba coming from Coe Percussion is a team effort ensuring top-notch quality standards.
Furthermore, Matt Coe finishes and checks every instrument himself before it can get to your hands.
Notable marimba: Coe Percussion Five Octave Concert Marimba
Although every Coe Percussion instrument is made to the exact needs of its lucky owner, all the options offered can help you fine-tune the original design offered by the company to make it closer to your dream instrument.
Indeed, you can choose metal or solid maple frames for the Honduras rosewood hand-finished keyboard. Also, as a stock part of the model, resonators are made of mirror-like polished brass.
Finally, the buyer can choose the diameter of the resonator, the height of the instrument, and the colours of the frame.
This five-octave concert marimba is a great choice if you are after a tailor-made instrument with the finest materials and superior craftsmanship.
Trixon drums became popular among jazz players in the USA during the fifties jazz, bebop, and rock and roll revolution that shook the world. Indeed, the company gained a reputation for being among the top innovators of its time with designs that defied the very basics of the drum kit.
Nowadays, the same innovational, bold spirit has taken the company to broaden the spectrum of its production line and include premium-quality concert percussion instruments, among which marimbas are the absolute highlight.
More than half a century backs up every Trixon design; if you haven't already, it's high time you give them a chance.
Notable marimba: Trixon Karl-Heinz Weimer Series Concert Marimba
The often revered sustain, resonance, and dark, sweet tone of this 5-octave marimba results from the highest-grade rosewood bars going through a natural aging process sitting over a butcher block frame and full-size aluminum pipe resonators.
Moreover, the metal stand is not only triple-reinforced but also fully adjustable. Finally, the entire structure is built over 4″ rubber casters with a brake.
If you are after state-of-the-art construction, flawless craftsmanship, superior sound, and sturdiness, this is a must-try before you buy.