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Hi everybody,

I know lead sticks started out as just sticks without rubber and then people started wrapping bike tire tubing around the sticks. One of the things I don't know though, is how did sponge balls for bass pans come to be. Were those mallets ever wrapped rubber too? I have done some experimenting with wrapped rubber so I am curious as to how the sponge balls became the norm.



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As far back as the early-1950s, I remember the single bass being strapped around the neck of panmen on the road and one sponge-wrapped stick being used.  The same with the "do-doop" or 2-note smaller bass drum with was invented to keep the tempo.

I think that it was because these things were available.

We used the same wrapping technique and bicycle rubber to wrap our sling shots back in the old days, and just about every boy did that.

And I remember that those sponge balls were so plentiful as children's toys that it didn't take much imagination to use them on the bass drums.

And BTW, we called them "pan sticks", and I have no idea when they started calling them "mallets'.

Probably about the same time we stopped "beating pan" and started "playing the steel pans". 

Glenroy, I think if I was still living in Trinidad I would be saying Sticks instead of Mallets and Steel band instead of Steel Pan, if I hear these Foreign names it will sound funny to me then I will be saying "Them Yankee people changing the Name aw we thing", lol

Just like I have a Trini friend  uses a term of "I Suspect that", but my daughter went to school up here since she was 4 yrs old, she would say "I Suspected that", lol

I'm pretty certain that "mallet" is a generic, universal musical term.  It has to do with the inclusion of a head on the drumstick.  But I think if you use pan sticks instead of mallets, you play better! Eh?

I can see Bertel point and would support him on this. We say pansticks and pan or steelpan, why should we change these terms. If someone from outside come here and ask for a steeldrum we would say "oh, you looking for a barrel" or if they mention mallets for playing pan we would say " Oh , you mean pan sticks. To me, the pan is not a steeldrum, and we don't play pan with mallets.

Thank you to Ronald and Glenroy for actually providing some information towards the question that was asked. 

Realizing that this will start another digression, I would like to point out that this "discussion" is exactly the reason so many young panists do not take part in the community. I asked a simple question about how sponge balls started getting added onto sticks to play bass pans. Instead of offering helpful information as Ronald and Glenroy did, the vast majority of the posts were focused on sticks vs. mallets terminology. I realize that there are members of this community that have some incredible historical knowledge and because I value learning that, I remain a part of the community. I am not a Trini, and obviously never will be, but I love the pan just as much as any Trini does. I am trying to dig into the roots of this beautiful instrument and expand my understanding of how the evolution happened and brought us to today. If this community decides, through it's actions, that it is more important to squabble over terminology than share how the instrument evolved and when important steps were made, then I will cease being a participating member and look elsewhere to expand my knowledge. 

Once again, thank you to Ronald and Glenroy for providing information towards my question. Without your responses, I would have lost my final piece of hope for gaining any knowledge from the WST community.

Don't get angry Matt, I kinda have a feeling you knew what the out-come would be, Look at the bright side  you still got two members that provided you with information. Let this be a life lesson you will always have to deal with the stuff you don't need before you find what you need.

"Squabble over terminology" Matt! So what are you saying is that the question of how Pansticks evolved to Mallets is not a good one? Well I thought it was, and I must confess, that Noah taught me a lesson or two on the subject! Thank you Noah, I am very grateful for your wisdom! What is one mans cheese is anothers poison?? Are we a bit too sensitive here?

Mr. Matt-The Steelpan Store,

If this community decides, through it's actions, that it is more important to squabble over terminology than share how the instrument evolved and when important steps were made, then I will cease being a participating member and look elsewhere to expand my knowledge.

YOU are very RUDE and OUT OF PLACE.

Simply referring to them as "mallets" in your opening post justifies as an invitation to the conversation.  You should not be offended by that.  Trinis often wonder why outsiders feel that they must rename their things.  I notice you refer to all of your sticks as "mallets" in your catalog.  Perhaps the construction of them match the definition of a mallet, and thus why the name is being used for marketing your products globally.  But that is part of the frustration of the TnT Pan community… Changing the reference of their "pan sticks" to "mallets" or "pan" to "steel drum" (which we know is a steel barrel used as a vessel for storing product) ignores the cultural relevance in the history of the pan.

For the record, I don't see the business purpose or strategic effectiveness in scolding an entire online community of your potential customers.  No, I did not answer your question about the history of the use of toy balls for bass sticks, only support for the etymology of the term "mallet".  But if Ronald and Glenroy are the only people that provided the particulars you were looking for, and you will disrespect the contribution of the others and their opinions on terminology, maybe the others don't suit your effort to redefine TnT culture and pan in your own words? If you love pan, love ALL of it.  As beautiful an instrument that it is today, it was born through struggle and blood.

I notice in your catalog that you are also uncertain on whether to refer to your soprano pans as such, tenors or leads.  Why is that?  I might suggest that, rather than lashing out at the entire (less two) WST community for engaging in a mallet / stick conversation at your own prodding, you simply continue to ask your good questions and listen.  Maybe one day the debate between "culturally relevant" and "classical European" terminology will be sorted out.

very interesting Corey - and also enlightening to me. 

I have always wondered why many people in the USA say "lead" instead of tenor, (which i dislike because it carries an implication that the tenor pan/melody is somehow more important than all the resta pans;  thus implying that everything else is "following"... but that's not really so. The melody is just one part of the ensemble, wherein all the voices are of equal importance necessary to create the whole. So i've never liked calling the tenor a 'lead'... because the word itself, diminishes the rest of the parts.) - And have also wondered where 'mallets', instead of 'sticks' came from.... nobody I know calls them mallets, I've only seen that nomenclature in the online stores.  I have wondered about this for a long time, and my sense of it was exactly what you just said in  your comment.  thank you - !


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