Promark SPYR: A New Mallet Line for a New Time

Mike Lawson • GoodVibes • October 1, 2020

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The SPYR series from Promark by D’Addario is a collaboration with world-renowned percussionists, designers, and educators Kevin Shah and Tony Nunez. The series covers the complete spectrum of sounds.

Promark SPYR SM5 Marimba

Even though these are classified as “hard” marimba mallets, they are well-cushioned and bring out the tone of the marimba in all registers, including the lowest octave of a five-octave marimba. They also cut in the middle and upper ranges of the marimba. In addition, the mallets also have weight to them. They are definitely on the heavier side, but this helps bring out the tone of the marimba, especially at soft volumes where intricacy and delicacy is required. The shafts are made of birch and the heads are tightly woven soft yarn. The weight distribution of the mallet allows for a good rebound as well as a full and rounded tone. Regarding music recommendations for these mallets, they are good for more aggressive works, such as Keiko Abe marimba compositions, yet they have enough delicacy where soft rolls sound good too. The diversity of this mallet makes it a good “all purpose” mallet for many works. I like the fact that when I was playing loud during my concert, the mallets provided me with a lot of tone and body as well as a warm sound. There is a big difference between a staccato loud sound and a “warm” loud sound that has a full and rounded tone. These mallets definitely deliver the quality and “fat” sound that I look for in a loud mallet. The weight of the mallets also help bring out the overtones of each bar of the marimba, and not just the basic tone. A marimba is beautiful because of the rich overtones that it creates. This mallet definitely creates the tone qualities that pull out the best overtones that the marimba resonates.

Promark SPYR SM2 Marimba

These mallets are ideal soft mallets for bringing out the fundamental tone of the marimba in the middle to lower octave of the marimba, as well as medium to soft volumes. They are great for extremely delicate passages as well as rolls. They produce a very beautiful tone at the lower end of a five-octave marimba when playing sustained rolls and they really make the marimba “sing.” They are slightly larger in size yet they aren’t too heavy. The handles are birch and I noticed that they are slightly thicker than normal, which helps with control as well as an overall balance of the weight distribution from the end of the shaft to the head. The heads are large and tightly wrapped yarn over a rubber core, which helps give them the weight needed at the end of the mallet for a quality sound. The sustain of the overtones that this mallet offers from one strike of a marimba bar at the lower register is a bit longer than usual, which really provides a beautiful and lush overall sound.

Promark SPYR SV2R Vibraphone

These are medium vibraphone mallets. The first thing I noticed about these mallets is that the heads are much larger than regular vibe mallets. This helps provide a full and rich tone throughout the entire instrument. Even with the large heads, they still have very good articulation for fast solo passages. I would characterize these as a great “all purpose” vibe mallets if you are looking for diversity that can produce in many different musical situations. They are on the heavier side. But for me, I like this quality because the weight helps bring out the fundamental of the instrument, yet they are wrapped so much that they aren’t overbearing and never produce an unpleasant sound. The mallet shafts are made of thick rattan durable shafts and the length of the mallets help me execute four mallet passages even when I am stretching for larger intervals within the chords. They provide a high quality and rich sound at all dynamic levels, which is not a quality that all mallets possess. I love the fundamental sound that I get from these at soft dynamics, yet I can also get articulation if I want to play a 32nd note passage at a fast speed.

Promark SPYR SU7R Bell

These mallets are nice and light bell mallets that create a great fundamental sound. The weight distribution of the mallet allows for great control and rebound that nicely brings out the sound of the instrument. The rattan shafts really help the rebound jump off the bells so the performer can stay relaxed and allow the mallets to do the work. The head of the mallet is uniquely made of both Lexan as well as an internal brass weight, which helps bring out a beautiful sound on bells.

Promark SPYR SU4R Xylophone

These are extremely light poly xylophone mallets that are great for fast playing. Even though they are light, they have wonderful weight distribution, which tends to be a trademark within the entire line of SPYR mallets. The weight distribution from the shaft to the head allows the performer to maintain control of the rebound even at extremely fast tempos. They produce a nice and full tone on the xylophone without ever becoming overbearing. I also love the fact that there is limited contact noise as the mallets really bring out the tone of the instrument instead. Scott Joplin would love these mallets.

In 2016, The Huffington Post called Kevin Lucas “the most talented percussionist since Lionel Hampton, Ginger Baker, and Tito Puente.” He has been nominated for 38 music industry awards for his Echoes in the Sand album, and he won the 2016 American Songwriting Awards. Kevin performed with the Madison Scouts Drum and Bugle Corps from 1992-1994, and won the DCI Midwest Individuals in 1994 for keyboard percussion. He placed 2nd in the United States for concert hall percussion at the Music Teachers National Association collegiate competition in 1997.


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