Last updated: August 9, 2021

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Welcome to our big xylophone test 2021. Here we present all the xylophones we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the web. We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best xylophone for you.

You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should pay attention to if you want to buy a xylophone.




The most important facts in a nutshell

  • The xylophone has several bars which, due to their different lengths, produce different sounds when tapped with a mallet.
  • Unlike the glockenspiel, the bars are not made of metal but of wood. This makes the sound of the xylophone much softer.
  • The xylophone belongs to the family of percussion instruments and has either a resonating body or a flat frame on which the bars are mounted.

The Best Xylophone: Our Choices

Guide: Questions you should deal with before buying a xylophone

How is a xylophone constructed?

A xylophone consists of a frame or resonating body (a box that is open at the top and bottom) onto which the bars are attached. The bars are of different lengths and therefore have different pitches: The longer the bar, the lower the pitch. These tones are usually sorted in ascending order, i.e. from low to high. On the left are the lowest tones, and towards the right they become higher and the bars shorter. It is very practical for practising that you can also remove the bars. For children, for example, you can take off all the bars that are not needed for a particular song. This makes playing much easier, especially for beginners.

What material are xylophones made of?

Xylophones are made of wood. There are different types of wood. The rule is: the better the wood, the better the sound. Some manufacturers also offer cheaper instruments made of synthetic material, but their sound characteristics are much less beautiful than those made of real wood. If the bars are made of metal, then it is not a xylophone but a glockenspiel. The construction of these two percussion instruments is basically very similar, but the glockenspiel is much smaller, the notes are higher and sound somewhat shriller than those of the xylophone. Xylophones are made of wood. Corresponding instruments made of metal are called glockenspiels.

With its metal bars and wooden mallets, the glockenspiel sounds more penetrating than the xylophone. (Photo: pixabay.com / Pexels)

How much does a xylophone cost?

The price depends mainly on the type and the material. As with all musical instruments, the price range is relatively open upwards, as there are also many special models that are made of special wood. Such special instruments can of course be very expensive.

Variant of the instrument price
Children's xylophone from around € 15
Hobby xylophone from around € 150
High-quality xylophone from around € 300

Simple xylophones for children can be found online for as little as 15 €. If it's for a child and you're not sure yet whether he or she will enjoy the xylophone and you don't want to spend too much money at the beginning, then you certainly won't go wrong with a model in this price range. The general rule with xylophones is: Tuning the individual wooden bars cleanly is an extremely time-consuming grinding process. That's why the really good instruments are so expensive. Unfortunately, if you buy a cheap instrument, you cannot assume that the individual notes will have a pure, clean sound.

What accessories do I need for a xylophone?

For your xylophone you can buy accessories like mallets, covers and transport bags. These are very important and can influence the joy of playing and the sound, but also protect your instrument. In the following table, we have shown what you should pay special attention to when buying accessories.

Accessories What to look for
Mallets To play a xylophone you need mallets. The heads of the mallets can be either wool, felt or wood. If you prefer a more muffled sound that is characteristic of the xylophone, it is best to use wool or felt mallets.
Cover To prevent the xylophone from getting dusty or dirty, you should buy a cover for your musical instrument. Many covers are made of a smooth material that is easy to clean.
Transport bag If you plan to transport your xylophone often, you should get a transport bag. This will protect your xylophone and prevent damage during transport. Bars sometimes need to be removed to prevent them from being damaged.

Are there special xylophones for children?

If you are looking for a beginner's instrument for your child, you should pay particular attention to a design that is suitable for children. It does not make much sense to buy an expensive orchestra xylophone for a small child who is just starting to get into music. Instead, it is probably much more beneficial for the child to start with a small xylophone of (depending on age) one to two octaves in range.

Like some of the models listed above, there are many xylophones with colourful bars. This is not a purely decorative aspect, but also helps many beginners to rehearse the pieces. The colours of the tones can be good thought aids when learning a new piece. For example, you can mark the note in red in the sheet music that is also red on the instrument. There are also sets available that consist of a colourful xylophone and an exercise book in which the colours of the bars are picked up. This makes learning notes easy and playful, even for younger children.

Decision: What types of xylophones are there and which is the right one for you?

We generally distinguish between xylophones with a sound box and those without a sound box. In the following, we have compiled the characteristics as well as the advantages and disadvantages of both versions.

What are the characteristics of a xylophone with a sound box and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

The soundbox is the wooden box that is open at the top and bottom and is located under the bars. When the bars are struck, the sound is very clear thanks to the soundbox, because the wood is made to vibrate.

Advantages
  • Better sound
  • Higher volume
  • Feeling of high quality
Disadvantages
  • Bulky
  • Heavy
  • Somewhat more expensive

So a sound box improves the sound characteristics of the xylophone. On the other hand, the instrument is more expensive and more difficult to transport because the sound box makes it much larger and heavier. If you consider that a classical xylophone is already over 60 cm wide, then it becomes clear that the soundbox is also quite large and bulky.

What distinguishes a xylophone without a soundbox and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

On the xylophone without a sound box, the bars are only attached to a wooden frame that does not vibrate as well as a large sound box would. This makes the sound less loud and sonorous. On the other hand, it is much easier to transport such a xylophone because you can simply pack it in a bag. Particularly high-quality bags are so stable that they fix the bars where they belong - this also prevents the wooden bars from slipping off the frame if the bag is ever placed in a crooked position.

Advantages
  • Easier to transport
  • Doesn't take up much space
  • Lower price
Disadvantages
  • Poorer sound quality
  • Feels less high-quality

Because of the improved transport properties, a xylophone without a soundbox is more flexible, because you can take it to an orchestra rehearsal or to a performance. Of course, this is also possible with a sound box, but it is more difficult and requires more space.

Buying criteria: You can compare and evaluate xylophones on the basis of these factors

Of course, not everyone has the same priorities as to which product features are most important to them. We have listed the most important buying criteria that you should think about before buying a xylophone:

  • Size
  • Material
  • Colour
  • Price
  • Accessories

Below you can read what each criterion is about and find out why it makes sense for you to buy an instrument based on the criteria or not.

Size

As described above, size plays an important role in what kind of xylophone you buy. First of all, of course, you have to distinguish what you want: a children's xylophone with 12 notes naturally needs much less space than a large xylophone with over 30 bars, which is already suitable for accompanying ensembles. The largest xylophone is the orchestra xylophone, which needs to be as versatile as possible and requires a particularly high sound quality. If you want to buy a large xylophone for hobby musicians but have little space at home, you should buy a model without a sound box. Such xylophones can also simply be put into a storage bag and stored under the bed when you are not playing for a longer period of time!

Material

The bars and resonators or frames are made of wood. Different types of wood are used, for example maple for the frame/resonating body and rosewood for the bars. The material of the beater heads is also important for the sound. With soft heads, such as those made of wool, the sound is somewhat dull and quiet. The exact opposite is offered by wooden mallets, whose sound is very hard and comparatively loud, so that many find it unpleasant. A good middle ground are mallets with felt heads, which are hard but still produce a more soothing sound.

Colour

On large xylophones for adults, the bars and the body of the instrument are natural in the colour of the wood used. As a result, the sounding body is usually light, while the bars are a dark reddish brown.

Bars made of rosewood have the typical reddish-brown colour of xylophones. (Photo: pixabay.com / Trucollo)

Especially when buying a xylophone for children, the colour plays an important role. On many smaller models suitable for children, the bars are coloured in the colours of the rainbow, so that little beginners find it easier to remember the order of the notes within a song. In addition, certain notes can be linked to the corresponding colours on the xylophone, making it easier to learn to read music. If you buy a colourful xylophone and a children's exercise book in which the colours of the bars are picked up, be sure to check that the colours in the book match those on the xylophone! Otherwise there will be a lot of confusion.

Price

Of course, not everyone plans the same budget when buying a new instrument. If you are looking for a children's xylophone, you don't have to invest a lot of money. However, if you need a high-quality hobby musician's xylophone, then this becomes more difficult, as these models are usually already in the three-digit euro range. The high-quality workmanship of the xylophone and especially of the bars is the be-all and end-all of this instrument. Any small manufacturing defect can change the sound, so you cannot expect particularly high quality from a very inexpensive model.

But how can you then start playing the xylophone as an adult without having to invest over a hundred euros in a new instrument straight away? Of course, there is always the possibility of looking for a used instrument. On Ebay or other local platforms, there are always used instruments for sale that are in good condition: Keep your eyes open! Maybe there will soon be a good opportunity to buy a xylophone. If you just want to try out the xylophone to see if you like it, you can also ask at a music hall or music school near you if you can try out the instrument for a short time.

Accessories

Another buying criterion is the accessories that come with the instrument. Most models come with mallets. However, to vary the sound, you can also buy additional mallets made of other materials. Sometimes a bag or cover for the instrument is also included. This can be very handy, as it can be difficult to find an exact cover on your own. High-quality covers or bags for xylophones also represent a not entirely insignificant cost factor that can be avoided if these things are already automatically included in the scope of delivery.

Facts worth knowing about the xylophone

How long have xylophones been around?

The exact origin of this instrument is not known. What is certain, however, is that the xylophone has its origins in Asia and Africa. In the 15th/16th century, the percussion instrument spread to Europe through the Crusades. At first, the xylophone was played in circuses by particularly virtuoso musicians, but later it became more and more integrated into the orchestra. The xylophone plays an important role in works by Carl Orff, for example.

What is the difference between the xylophone and the glockenspiel?

The bars of the xylophone are made of wood, those of the glockenspiel of metal. This makes the sound of the two instruments very different. The metal bars have a much harder, more penetrating sound. The wooden bars of the xylophone, on the other hand, sound softer, warmer and duller. The glockenspiel is also smaller. Many manufacturers and online suppliers do not make a distinction between the two instruments, but call both xylophones. Therefore, when buying, it is important to pay attention to exactly what you want and what is supplied.

Picture source: 123rf.com / 91527011

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