Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Xylophone and Vibraphone

xylophoneXylophone vs Vibraphone

The vibraphone is also called vibraharp or vibes. This musical instrument looks like xylophone or marimba but uses a different technology for the music to come. The main difference between xylophone and vibraphone is that while in xylophone wooden bars are used which are thicker and generally shorter; in vibraphone aluminum bars are used. The bars in vibraphone are paired with a resonator tube. These tubes have butterfly valves on the upper end and are driven by a motor. On the other hand xylophone consists of bars of different lengths. By striking these bars with plastic, wooden or rubber mallets, music is produced. Each and every bar is tuned to a particular pitch. Similar to a piano, a vibraphone has a sustain pedal. When the pedal is up, the bars produce a damp sound or the sound production time is less. If the pedal is pressed, they produce sound for a longer period of time.

Vibraphone is commonly used in the jazz music but xylophone is preferably used in the western style concerts. Xylophone produces a more crisp tone than the vibraphone. Vibraphone produces a mellower sound and mixes with the background with a resonating effect.

Historical differences:

Xylophone originated from Africa and Asia. The earliest evidence is from the 9th century. A similar type of instrument has been found in the Vienna Symphonic Library and it dates back to 2000 BC in China. On the other hand vibraphone was first marketed by the Leedy manufacturing Company in 1921. However, this instrument has been further developed and improved upon. The primary purpose of vibraphone was to add to the huge battery of the percussion sounds that were initially used by the orchestras.

Construction differences:

The most obvious way to recognize the vibraphone is by the presence of its aluminum bars. This aluminum is obtained from the standard commercial manufacturers. There is change in sound if alloys of aluminum are used to make its bars. Therefore the manufacturers are very careful in choosing the alloys and they have to balance the tonal properties of each alloy. On the other hand in xylophone bars made from rosewood or padak are used. These days’ manufacturers are using fiberglass also in order to produce loud sound. The concert xylophones are 3 ½ or 4 octaves and their resonators are present below the bars so as to enhance tone.

1.Xylophone has wooden bars to produce music while the vibraphone has aluminum bars.
2.Vibraphone is a modern invention while xylophone has history dating back to 9th century.
3.Vibraphone produces a mellower or damp sound while xylophone produces crisp sound.

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  1. Well enunciated difference between Vibes and Xylophone.

    Thanks for explaining.

    Keep Swingin’



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