History of Encore Mallets, Inc.
Daniel K. Lidster founded Encore Mallets, Inc. in 1982. This is his account of the people and events that influenced the birth of Encore Mallets, Inc.
As an undergraduate student at Grace College in Indiana, Dan studied with Chicago studio musician Bobby Christian. Christian constantly developed new, unique mallets for use in percussion performance, and he shared many of these products and ideas with Dan. Christian showed Dan the usefulness of mallet making and the near endless sound possibilities available to the malletsmith.
Dan went on to study with Charles (Charlie) Owen at the University of Michigan. Owen’s focus on quality sound production refined Dan’s musical taste and gave him a discerning ear for the many timbres possible through the artistic combination of implement and instrument. Charlie always made you aware of what sound you were producing while playing any percussion instrument.
During his years at the University of Michigan, Dan also studied timpani with Sal Rabbio and marimba with Gordon Stout. Rabbio introduced Dan to the infinite sound possibilities accessible to the percussionist through a single stroke of a timpani mallet. In this way, Rabbio further refined Dan’s musical ear and started him thinking about the influence of mallets on percussion instruments. Dan spent many hours at the marimba with Stout, and Stout introduced Dan to his method of yarn wrapping mallets.
Dan Develops the Latex Mallet
Dan moved to Chicago after graduating with an M.M. in Percussion Performance from the University of Michigan. Dan bought a pair of authentic Mexican latex mallets at the 1980 San Jose PASIC, and while playing marimba gigs he discovered that these yarnless mallets projected through restaurant crowd noise and were soft enough to maintain a pleasing, authentic marimba sound. He also found that soft latex mallets brought out the fundamental of other percussion instruments, including cymbals and gongs, and were articulate enough to cut through large orchestra ensembles. These discoveries led him to experiment with latex as material for making percussion mallets.
While living in Chicago, Dan studied marimba with Dr. Vida Chenoweth, and it was with Dr. Chenoweth’s help that Dan created his Latex Mallets.
“I took a large Guatemalan latex mallet home with me after a lesson and looked for ways to duplicate its sound using the latex I had developed. Dr. Chenoweth was a lady of few words and to the point. When I would bring my mallet back to her each week for critique, her answer was always, ‘not yet.’ Then one day when she finally made the pronouncement, ‘Now!’ I knew I had successfully achieved the sound she was looking for.”
The Birth of Encore Mallets, Inc.
Using the latex mallet design as a foundation, Dan constructed yarn and cord wound mallets. By wrapping his latex mallets with yarn or cord, Dan eliminated the sometimes-unwanted light slap that sounds when latex strikes a mallet bar; the yarn and cord gave his mallets a softer articulation and maintained a strong fundamental sound.
Dan continued to improve his mallets and in 1981 took his first sample mallets to PASIC in Indianapolis, Indiana. Hal Trommer of the J.C. Deagan Company let Dan exhibit his mallets at the Deagan booth. By that time, Dan had designed and manufactured the Yarn Wound Series, the Cord Wound Series, and the Latex Series. The following year, Dan officially launched Encore Mallets, Inc., with Steve Weiss Music as its first distributor.
Thirty-five years later, Encore Mallets, Inc. has blossomed into an international force in the percussion manufacturing industry. Encore Mallets, Inc. now offers over 150 different mallet models, has Signature Artists, and distributors in Russia, Mexico, South Korea, Japan, and the United States. Professional and students alike have come to associate the Encore name with quality. Dr. Doug Walter of the University of Colorado at Boulder sums up Dan Lidster’s mallets and his company with this statement: “The warmest, biggest sound with the best feel in your hands – That’s Encore Mallets!”