Difference Between Xylophone and Vibraphone

Xylophone vs Vibraphone

Xylophone and vibraphone are both members of mallet percussion family which is considered as one of the oldest musical families. These instruments basically contain bars which produce sound when struck by a mallet. Each bar is attached to a metal tube called a resonator which provides natural amplification. Today, these elegant instruments now form part of many musical ensembles such as symphony orchestra.

Xylophone

Xylophone, which probably originated in Asia and Africa, makes a colorful addition to the orchestra. It is made of wooden bars that are mounted on a frame with each bars being tuned to different pitch, and hit with a plastic, rubber or wooden mallet. Although xylophone is the most popular among the percussion family, it is rarely used to make popular music. It is almost always exclusive to orchestras or musical theater production.

Vibraphone

Vibraphone, sometimes called vibraharp, or simply vibes, is xylophone’s brother in the percussion family. They may be similar to look at, but vibraphone uses aluminum metal bars wherein each bars also has a resonator tube and a butterfly valve at its upper end to produce a vibrato effect. It also has a sustain pedal just like that of a piano wherein when the pedal is up, the sound of the bars are quite short and when its down, the bars will have a prolonged sound.

Difference between Xylophone and Vibraphone

When put side by side, the easiest distinction anyone will notice between a xylophone and a vibraphone is their bars. Xylophone has bars made of wood, usually rosewood and played with rubber, plastic or wooden mallet; vibraphone has bars made of metal alloy, usually aluminum, and played with mallets covered in corn or yarn and are usually mushroom-shaped. While vibraphone has a pedal and a motor to add vibrato to its sound, a xylophone does not either. The sound a xylophone produces is bell-like, bright and lively, so you can actually hear it being played apart from the other instruments. Vibraphone, on the other hand, makes mellow, smooth sound that blends well with other instruments thus makes vibraphone more usable in jazz and other popular music.

These two instruments are elegant at its best. They make music more unique and interesting at the same time. Be it a musical or a jazz session, xylophone and vibraphone have made their name in music and gained recognition because of their beautiful sound production.

In brief:

• Xylophone and vibraphone are members of the mallet percussion family.

• Xylophone and vibraphone differ in the kind of bars and mallets used wherein xylophone uses wooden bars and mallets made of plastic, rubber or wood while vibraphone uses aluminum bars and mallets covered with cord or yarn and shaped like a mushroom.

• Xylophone is usually exclusive to symphony orchestras, concert bands and musical theaters. Vibraphone on the other hand is used more on jazz or any popular music.

• While vibraphone uses pedals and motors to give more effect to the sound it produces, xylophone doesn’t have any.