Xylophone vs. Vibraphone

Difference Between Xylophone and Vibraphone

Members of mallet percussion family, the oldest musical family, Xylophone and vibraphone are two very elegant musical instruments. These instruments have bars which are struck by mallet to produce the musical sound. The bars are attached to resonators which amplify the music. Resonators are metal tubes.

It is believed that Xylophone originated in Africa and Asia. It is an instrument which is used for making the orchestra more colorful. There are wooden bars mounted on a frame. These bars are tuned to different pitches and when these are hit by a mallet made of rubber, plastic or wood they create beautiful sound and is used exclusively in musical theater production or orchestras. You would hardly see its use in creating popular music.

Vibes, Vibraharp or Vibraphones are from the same family to which Xylophone belongs. It has aluminum metal bars connected to resonator tube. There is a distinctive butterfly valve which is used for creating the vibrato effect. There is pedal in this instrument which is similar to that of a piano. If you want short sound then the pedal must be up and kept down for long sound.

Some of the differences between the two instruments are given here;

  • The bars in Xylophone are made of wood while in vibraphone they are made of aluminum or metal alloys.
  • The bars are played with wooden, rubber or plastic mallet in Xylophone while mallets in Vibraphone are covered in corn or yarn. These mallets look like mushrooms.
  • Vibraphone had pedal and motor for adding vibrato to its sound while these are absent in Xylophone.
  • The sound produced by Xylophone is sharp and lively while Vibraphone produces smooth sound which easily blends with other instruments. This is the reason why xylophones are not used in popular music while vibraphones are used in jazz and other forms of popular music.

Both are great musical instruments which produce sounds pleasant to ears and this is why they are so popular among music lovers.


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