Care and Maintenance of a Timpani
Caring for your mallets
Handling the mallet felt
There are many different types of materials used on timpani mallet heads. Many mallets use wound felt; but since felt is a soft material, it tends to wear out after continued use.
Mallets and drumsticks are just as important to the player as the actual instrument itself. It takes a lot of work to manufacture a timpani or marimba mallet, and many of them are very expensive. For this reason, we recommend that you take care of your mallets and treat them as valuable items. Some performers actually rewind the felt onto their mallets by themselves when it gets damaged.
When you practice with your mallets on a surface besides the actual instrument-your knees or on a practice pad, for instance-the felt is many times more likely to get damaged than with playing on a timpani.
The relationship between the condition of the felt and the sound
As timpani mallets are used, the point of contact with the drum head gets pushed inwards and hardens, gets cut or thins out. To maintain the expressiveness of sound with your mallets, keep in mind the softness of your mallet felts. Some players loosen the felt on the head of their mallets a bit by hand, so that it does not get too hard.
Simple methods to repair your mallet felt
If the felt on your mallets has come off completely, you can mend it to at least make it usable again by cutting some felt in a round shape, wrapping it over the head of the mallet, tightening the felt over the mallet head with needle and thread and sewing it up.