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Guide to Timpanis

Timpani : What is it?

Timpanis

A timpani is a large drum made up of a bowl-like body made of copper or brass covered by animal skin or plastic. It is played by striking the head with a timpani mallet or stick to produce a variety of pitches. It is commonly used in military, classical orchestral, modern rock, marching, and concert applications.

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Types of Timpanis

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Kinds of Timpanis include the following:

Machine timpani

  • A machine timpani uses a mechanical system for altering the head tension.
  • It is made with a fiberglass kettle in the traditional deep, parabolic shape.
  • It is made with metal legs for balance.
  • It usually comes with a tuning gauge.
  • It has a diameter of 26 to 29 inches.



Pedal timpani

  • A pedal timpani is the most frequently used timpani.
  • It has a built-in pedal mechanism that adjusts the head tension by connecting the pedal to the instrument’s tension screws through an array of metal rods.
  • It comes with an extended collar, a tuning gauge, and a textured pedal.
  • It uses three pedal mechanism types: balanced action, post and clutch or friction clutch, and ratchet-clutch system.
  • It has a diameter of 26 to 29 inches.


Chain timpani

  • A chain timpani is made with a roller chain connected to the tension rod.
  • It uses a single handle to adjust the tension of the rod according to preference.
  • It is commonly used to play unique low and high notes in professional performances.

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Choosing Timpanis (Buying tips)

Timpani head: For water resistance, choose a timpani with a head made of durable plastic or PET film. If you are a professional timpani player who wants to achieve a richer and warmer timbre, choose a timpani head made of genuine animal skin such as calf skin.

Timpani stick:
If you are a professional timpani player, invest in several timpani stick types (aluminum, graphite, wood), so you can experiment with the different timbres each one produces.

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