Different Types Of Handbells And How to Ring Them

different types of handbells hanging from stands

Handbells are a type of musical instrument that has been around for centuries, and they are capable of producing some of the most stunningly beautiful music that man is capable of creating. They are also distinctive in that they are performed in a formation like a choir, with each player being in control of a particular note or series of notes. This gives them a degree of originality. The harmonies that are produced when multiple musicians collaborate to play handbells are where the true beauty of this instrument may be found. If you are a musician or are just beginning to learn how to ring handbells, you have probably heard of the various varieties of handbells. In this article, we will discuss how to play the many kinds of handbells that are used in handbell choirs, as well as look at some examples of those bells.

English Handbells

Handbell choirs typically make use of English handbells since they are the most versatile variety of handbells. They come in a set that can have anything from two to eight octaves and can weigh anywhere from 0.25 to 5 kilos. They are composed of brass and have a clapper that strikes the interior of the bell in order to produce sound. They are rung using a variety of methods, such as playing the bell on a table or shaking the bell back and forth. The four fundamental methods of ringing are thumb damping, table damping, striking, and shaking. Beginners should begin by becoming proficient in these methods.

Dutch bells

Handbells from the Netherlands are quite popular throughout Europe. In contrast to the handbells used in English churches, these bells are typically quite small and circular in shape. They are similarly constructed of brass, although their construction is somewhat different from that of English handbells. They are played by striking the bell on the palm of your hand rather than having a clapper attached to them as most bells do. They are compact enough to fit in your pocket, allowing you to move around more freely while you are performing. The ability to ring Dutch handbells solo, in pairs, or as part of a chorus gives them additional flexibility as an instrument.

Popular Handbell Brands

With so many different types of handbells, it can be difficult to determine which brands are the best. Although some people may prefer one brand over another, there are a few that stand out as being especially popular among handbell-ringing enthusiasts.

Schulmerich Handbells

Most people agree that Schulmerich’s handbells are among the best on the market. Because of their superior sound and more sophisticated ringing procedures, they are almost exclusively employed in professional choirs. The clappers on these handbells are meant to produce a sound that is less harsh than that of regular handbells. They are made of a special type of bronze alloy. As a result of their more consistent sound, they are ideally suited for performances of classical music.

Whitechapel Handbells

Whitechapel handbells are a sort of English handbell that are widely regarded as the best handbells in the world. These handbells are produced one at a time in London, England, in the United Kingdom. Because of the rich tonal quality they produce, they are utilized in a great number of churches and cathedrals all over the world. The handbell music that is produced by these instruments that have been hand-crafted is unadulterated and unclouded. In addition to this, they are famous for their one-of-a-kind design, which consists of “nibs” on each bell to make them simple to hold and manipulate.

Malmark Handbells

Due to the fact that they are the industry leaders in handbell manufacture, the Malmark handbell firm has garnered a lot of recognition within the handbell world. The sound of Malmark handbells can be described as warm and mellow. This is due to the bronze alloy that is used in their construction. Additionally, they are renowned for having excellent intonation, which denotes that each note is articulated with tremendous accuracy. Malmark handbells are available in a variety of sets, ranging from beginning to professional, making them an excellent choice for both novice handbell ringers and professional choirs.

Bass vs. Treble Bells


Bass bells are the largest type of handbell and can weigh up to five kilos. They have a deep, lower-pitched sound that is suited for playing an accompaniment to classical works or providing a bass line for larger ensembles. One can only ring a single bell in each hand of these at a time, due to their size.


Treble bells, on the other hand, are much smaller than bass bells and have a higher-pitched sound. They are perfect for playing fast melodies, as their lightness makes it easier to move them in quick succession as a part of a handbell choir. One can also use two bells in one hand with treble bells, which is called the four-in-hand technique (as it makes four bells total that one rings).


Handbells offer a distinctive and aesthetically pleasing approach to the creation of music. Every variety of handbell, from Schulmerich handbells to Malmark handbells, has its own distinctive quality that can help your performance stand out from the crowd. You will be able to tap into the full potential of these musical instruments if you have a solid understanding of the many styles of handbells as well as the procedures for ringing them.

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