Category Archives: Equipment

Buying bells: whether to buy, which range to buy, bell cases

I’ve been contacted by several people in recent weeks for advice about buying or selling bells. Though I’m not a professional appraiser or broker, I have some information to share that you may find helpful, whether as a buyer or a seller. I’ll address the needs of soloists first, and the needs of groups (like a church) in a later post. In a future post, I’ll also talk about selling secondhand bells. Continue reading Buying bells: whether to buy, which range to buy, bell cases

Marking bell equipment

It’s a good idea to mark bells both visibly (so you know which are yours at a handbell conference) and invisibly (so you can prove stolen bells belong to you if the police recover them, or if they show up on eBay). I’ll talk about how to do both, as well as marking other equipment. Marking all your equipment is a critical part of preparing for your first handbell event, or a concert with other handbell musicians. Continue reading Marking bell equipment


Mallets are an external clapper mechanism. They can be used to create either a stopped sound (malleting bells on the table) or a sustained sound (malleting bells in the air, either singly or in bell trees). The object is to produce the same timbre as the clapper would. Bell manufacturers provide a variety of mallets intended for particular ranges of bells. In general, the bigger the bell, the bigger and softer the mallet. The mallets may be covered with yarn or other soft material. Smaller bells call for smaller, harder mallets, often made of rubber or plastic. Continue reading Mallets

Small stuff

Being a concert solo handbell artist isn’t cheap. I’ll write another time about the major investments in equipment (like bells) and training required for a serious study of this instrument. Today’s article is about the astonishing array of “small stuff” I’ve acquired in my work as a handbell soloist. (And not so small stuff – the Bellmobile and piano both made the list!) Continue reading Small stuff

Hearing protection

Hearing is a musician’s most important asset. As handbell musicians, and especially as soloists, we routinely put a loud, high-pitched instrument near our ears. We may rehearse in a room that reflects sound back at us, or in a row in front of other handbell musicians. We need to think early in our musical journey about protecting our hearing. It’s particularly important for advanced ringers, who may be exposed to more four-in-hand techniques in the high treble, and for those ringing bell trees. Bells on bell trees aren’t generally damped, so there’s an accumulation of sound right at ear level. Church ringers may need to think about protecting their hearing at Easter, where brass instruments may be combined with the bell choir, perhaps playing behind them. Continue reading Hearing protection