To rub or strike your bowl:
If you play a crystal bowl you must rub around the rim with your stick for obvious reasons. Striking such a bowl with a mallet soon results in the need to buy a new bowl.
Brass or bronze bowls can also be played this way, but here at Heaven of Sound we much prefer to strike the bowl with a mallet of suitable size and construction. When you rub a bowl the stick is always in contact with the bowl and damps a lot of the vibration, especially the lower tones, so this way you will lose a lot of the bowl's wonderful sound spectrum. Tibetan singing bowls are overtone instruments and a felt mallet allows you to hear the full range of fundamentals and overtones! The giant bowls have amazingly deep fundamental tones and it would be a shame to damp them out, not to mention the difficulty of rubbing the rim of a bowl that can measure over 60 inches in circumference.
For the smaller bowls a stick with a suede covered striking surface is preferred and will work for either rubbing or striking. For a larger bowl a felt-headed mallet, used to gently strike the bowl, will bring out the fundamental and overtones in all of their subtlety. Please do not rub or strike your bowl with bare wood. In general, the larger the bowl the softer the mallet head you will need, (with a few exceptions). Heaven of Sound offers leather sticks in a variety of sizes and prices. Our felt Pro mallets come in a medium size with a choice of hard, medium or soft heads, and in a small size with a hard head for smaller bowls that don’t swing well with a leather stick. The handles of our Pro mallets were designed by our luthier himself when he found that near the end of a long day of therapy sessions the mallet would simply drop out of his tired hand. These handles are shaped for maximum comfort and ease of playing. *UPDATE: We now also offer a felt stick, like our leather sticks but with a soft felt playing surface. These sticks eliminate the sharp initial impact noise that a leather stick produces and are especially nice for dainty bowls. They are NOT suitable for rubbing as they are too soft to produce a rubbed tone AND the felt would rub off.
Our new large faux fur mallets are suitable for giant bowls and medium to large gongs. This line will be expanded, keep an eye on them!
Singing bowls and water:
Singing bowls can be played either floating on water or half filled with warm water. The vibrations of the bowl will be easily seen in the movements of the water and can splash out if the bowl is too full. Warm water in a giant bowl is especially soothing for tired or sore feet. Water will ruin your felt headed mallet so please be careful or use a waterproof mallet. The vibrations produced by bowls floating in a bath or hot tub can be extremely intense. Select your frequencies with care and take care that the bowls don't hit each other or the side of the tub as the loud clanging will destroy the ambiance you've worked so carefully to create.