Skip to main content

Hello - I'm looking for opinions on the Malletech Omega resonators and if it's worth it/necessary to get tunable resonators. What do people think?

Also - does anyone happen to know if you need to special order bars tuned to A440.



Randy_Sutin Tue, 05/24/2022 - 11:25

Somewhat longer answer... Yes, they are worth it if you care about your sound in a variety of environments. If your ok with your sound and phrasing being a little off in some situations, then maybe save the money.

That said, about the bars...

I don't know if the 440 is the special order (I think it may be), but either way I think it is good to have at least one set of 440 and one set of 442. Even though most pianos and electronic keyboards in the US are at 440, I get in situations all the time where I need the 442 bars. Sometimes it's a piano that is tuned to European standard, sometimes it's a harmonium from India, sometimes it's a marimba that is tuned to 442, and (most often) it's just a gig outside in 97 degree weather where a set of 442 bars play at roughly 440, so at least I am not flat (just did one two days ago).

pcheckel Tue, 05/24/2022 - 11:46

In reply to by Randy_Sutin

Thanks, Randy. I'm assuming you would have to have tunable resonators if you're switching back and forth between A440 and A442 to get the resonators tuned correctly. I do have a nice M55 from the 70s - wondering how they would sound on the Omega vs. the Malletech bars...assuming I get the Omega with A442 bars and need to switch back and forth.

wyndorps Tue, 05/24/2022 - 12:20

I agree with Randy about the 440/442 Hz tuned sets. I am also very happy to have a Musser 442 Hz and a Malletech 440 Hz set.
As for tuning the resonance tubes , I am rather a little skeptical. You can hear the differences, but not as false frequencies, just in volume and timbre. I.e. a 442 plate on a 440 tube does not sound out of tune, but a little less warm and a little shorter. I can easily tune my DIY resonator tubes, but in fact I am too lazy to do so, because in my opinion (61 year old ears) you can only hear the difference in studio recordings. In a band live situation it might be very difficult to hear that out.

My impression is anyway that the original tuning of Musser's resonance tubes fits more to 440 Hz than to 442 Hz, but maybe my hearing is already too damaged for that.
I like to deliberately tune the upper octave resonance tubes a few Hz off, because otherwise the notes sound too sharp and aggressive to me.

tonymiceli Tue, 05/24/2022 - 13:41

i think they are worth it as well. if the money was a problem then i would say don't get them and don't worry. just means you can't tune your instrument. however:

i have NEVER tuned my omega on a gig, even when I thought i should. it doesn't matter that much. remember if you had an musser or yamaha for years, you never tunes that.

however, if something gets a little out of wack, it's nice to know that you can easily fix it. probably nothing will every get out of wack. just saying.

otherwise you can still tune resonators, you just have to get a club and a hammer and you can do it.

so if money if not a problem, get it. if money is a problem, don't worry about it.

pcheckel Wed, 05/25/2022 - 12:55

Thank you all for the responses. Having done the "club and hammer" resonator tuning on my M55, I'm thinking the tunable resonators are likely worth the extra money. Now the A440 vs. A442...I have not been in a situation where I have needed A442 bars, but then there's always that European tour ;o) Since the Omega would become my primary gig instrument, I'm thinking A440. Would it then make sense to have my M55 bars re-tuned to A442? Are the resonators on an M55 tuned to A440/A442 or are they generic (generic, I think)?

Randy_Sutin Sat, 05/28/2022 - 22:32

IF I had tunable resonators, which I don’t, I would only rarely adjust them... maybe for a recording session. The change is subtle and is not a win/win. In tune is more tone but less sustain. A little out is more sustain, but less tone.

I’m a vibrato guy so... I split the difference. With either set there is a point in the rotation where I’m in tune for max tone and a time when I’m not for a little more sustain.

Summer time is 442 bar time though. Humidity makes the wood in pianos swell and the axe goes sharp. The heat makes our bars go flat and so.... even here in the US with a piano that was tuned a few months back to 440, sometimes the hot weather means use 442 bars and we can all meet somewhere in the neighborhood of 441. :)

IndianaGlen Thu, 06/09/2022 - 15:06

Even though I don't know the practical aspects of resonator tuning (i.e. I'm probably full of $-IT), I can toss some math out there.

Per above I think having the vibe even throughout all the notes as a practical matter is more important then turning the resonators for every occasion or switching bars between 440 and 442. Granted if it's in a studio it may make a difference, same with changing temperature. To the audience on a gig, probably not so much. Having adjustable resonators would be really great if some notes were drastically different than others.

I did some math and measuring. Maybe someone else can verify. Since the tubes are quarter wavelength, an A=440 tube length looks to me like it's pretty close to 19.5CM in a 20 degree C room. I just measured my M75 and to the arch of the bottom of my A bar, I got pretty darn close to 19.5.
If I did my math correctly (No guarantee I did), it looks like at 442 the measurement is 19.4 cm (a difference of a millimeter -- about the size of the wire of a paper clip). Having to move all the resonators from gig to gig a few millimeters would be quite a hassle. Does the omega have a way to move ALL the resonators closer of further from the bars? I know some marimbas do.

I believe JM-Piper said that musser resonators still go out of the factory at a=440 even if they are tuned to a=442.

IndianaGlen Wed, 06/29/2022 - 07:32

In reply to by IndianaGlen

BarryK pointed out that there's way more to this subject than the math for one resonator. Please consider my post above as a small data point and not real world resonator science across the whole instrument. The *nerd alert* is valid though :)

BarryK Fri, 07/01/2022 - 08:11

In reply to by IndianaGlen

Hi Glen. Your relative calculations are probably good enough for argument sake (I did not check). Organ builders for centuries knew about something called End Correction ( where the effective pipe length acts like it is longer than its physical length, so if you calculate wavelength in free air given frequency and speed of sound in air at a given temperature, the corresponding pipe length will not be what you tune it to to get it to resonate. Apparently there is no exact formula for End Correction but estimates for a pipe closed on one end is to add an extra 0.3xD, where D is the tube diameter. Another effect on resonance is the physical boundary of the bar and how close it is to the resonator tube. That is why you need to tune the resonators with the bars on.

For further reading, check out:
- “Science of Percussion Instruments” by Thomas D Rossing. Section 5.5 Correction. Section 6.4 Resonators.
- “Science & Music” by Sir James Jeans