Malmark vs. Schulmerich Handbells: The Ultimate Comparison

handbells ready to play on table

Malmark and Schulmerich are two renowned handbell manufacturers that have long been associated with the world of handbell ringing. Both companies boast a dedicated following among handbell enthusiasts and musicians, each offering a unique sound and design. While the two have had a history of competition, they have found ways to coexist in the handbell market, providing a wealth of options for individuals and ensembles seeking the perfect pitch and tone.

Each company has its signature features that set them apart from the other. Malmark handbells are known for their durability and clear, bright sound, while Schulmerich handbells offer a rich, warm tone that many musicians find appealing. With different handbell varieties available from each company, musicians can select instruments that cater to their specific preferences and performance requirements.

In the journey of comparing Malmark vs. Schulmerich handbells, it is important to consider factors such as the quality of materials used, craftsmanship, and overall sound produced by each set of bells. Developing a solid understanding of the differences between Malmark and Schulmerich handbells will aid musicians in making informed decisions when building their handbell collection or choosing the ideal bells for their performances.

History of Malmark and Schulmerich

Origin of Malmark

Malmark, a renowned handbell manufacturer, was founded by Jake Malta in 1973 after his departure from Schulmerich Carillons, another well-respected handbell company. Malta was instrumental in the development of Schulmerich’s handbell program, designing their first production model back in 1962. When the ownership of Schulmerich changed hands, Malta decided to establish his own company, Malmark, to continue his passion for creating high-quality handbells and choirchimes.

Origin of Schulmerich

Schulmerich, on the other hand, has a longer history that dates back to the early 20th century. Although the company initially focused on producing carillons (large musical instruments consisting of bells), their venture into the world of handbells started in the 1960s. English handbells had already gained traction with the British company, Whitechapel Bell Foundry, based in London, but Schulmerich recognized the potential to introduce high-quality handbells to the American market. They hired Jake Malta as the driving force behind their handbell program, and thus began their journey into becoming one of the leading handbell manufacturers in the United States.

The Historical Bell Wars: Malmark vs Schulmerich

Handbell enthusiasts and professionals alike are likely familiar with the two heavyweights of the handbell industry – Malmark and Schulmerich. Their rivalry, often referred to as the “Great Handbell War”, has been a catalyst for innovation in this unique market.

The Genesis of Bell Wars

In 1971, Jake Malta bid adieu to his position at Schulmerich Handbells. He had bigger plans on his mind; he was ready to form his own company – Malmark. This marked not just an end but also a beginning – it sparked off one of the most intense rivalries ever witnessed in bell wars within our beloved handbell industry.

The Legal Battles

This competition didn’t confine itself merely to creating better products than each other. It escalated into numerous legal battles that reached even the Supreme Court’s doors over patent rights and trade secrets. One particularly heated case saw victory favoring Malmark when they won $2 million from their rivals, alleging patent infringement by them.

Suffice it to say, these conflicts have left indelible marks on both companies’ histories while significantly influencing how they approach design innovations today for their respective ranges of Malmark handbells and Schulmerich bells.

The rivalry between Malmark and Schulmerich is a classic example of two top-notch handbell manufacturers competing to deliver the best products in the industry. With their intertwined history and shared commitment to producing exceptional handbells, their unique offerings continue to shape the sounds and experiences of handbell enthusiasts worldwide.

Design and Manufacturing

Malmark’s Manufacturing Process

Malmark, a renowned handbell manufacturer, focuses on creating high-quality handbells and handchimes. They utilize a combination of traditional craftsmanship and modern technology. The bells are primarily made of bronze, with aluminum being used for some of the handchimes. In the manufacturing process, Malmark first casts the bell in a mold and then tunes it precisely by removing material from the inside of the bell.

They also introduced color-coded handles for beginners, making note identification much easier. But that’s not all – they also introduced Choirchime Instruments, which offer a softer tone compared to traditional bells.

The clapper mechanism is a crucial component of the handbell, and Malmark’s clappers are designed to produce a consistent, clear sound. They feature a unique, adjustable clapper head, allowing musicians to control the contact point with the bell. Moreover, the bass bells have an additional damping mechanism to prevent prolonged ringing after being played.

Schulmerich’s Manufacturing Process

Schulmerich Bells, another prominent handbell manufacturer, similarly produces high-quality handbells and handchimes with attention to design and material selection. The bells are crafted from bronze, while their handchimes are made of aluminum. Schulmerich’s manufacturing process also begins with casting the bell and tuning it by removing material from the inside.

A significant aspect of Schulmerich’s design is their patented clapper mechanism, which ensures a smooth and uniform strike on the bell. This mechanism reduces the chances of double striking and produces a clean, even sound. Furthermore, Schulmerich Bells incorporate a damping system in their bass bells, allowing for better control of the sound duration.

However, their biggest contribution is the embedding of audio technology within handbells, allowing ringers to produce sounds digitally while maintaining the physical ringing action. This is truly genius.

Both Malmark bells and Schulmerich handbells have roots in traditional bell founding practices, drawing inspiration from companies like the Whitechapel Bell Foundry. By combining skilled craftsmanship with modern technology, these companies continue to create high-quality handbells and handchimes for musicians worldwide.

Products and Accessories

Malmark’s Products

Malmark offers an extensive range of handbells, Choirchimes®, and MelodyChimes®. Their handbells feature a patented clapper mechanism that ensures a consistent and precise sound quality. They also offer a variety of ringing accessories, such as gloves, mallets, and polishing cloths, to help maintain the pristine condition of their instruments. Malmark’s selection of handbell equipment caters to novice and experienced ringers alike.

Malmark’s MelodyChime® is a more affordable alternative to handbells, offering a similarly satisfying musical experience while requiring less maintenance.

Schulmerich’s Products

Schulmerich is renowned for their traditional craftsmanship and cutting-edge technology. The company takes pride in producing high-quality handbells, handchimes, and ringing equipment. They strive to provide versatile products that inspire and motivate musicians in various settings, from worship to education and performing arts.

Schulmerich offers an array of ringing accessories and maintenance equipment for their instruments. These include handbell cases, carrying bags, cleaning supplies, and other essentials to ensure the longevity and excellent performance of their handbells and handchimes.

Both Malmark and Schulmerich are dedicated to providing reliable, high-quality products to the handbell community. By investing in their respective instruments and accessories, musicians can expect a rewarding, enjoyable experience with their handbells or handchimes, and further contribute to the continued growth and diversity of the handbell industry.

Comparing Sound Quality: Fuller Tone vs Embedded Audio

When it comes to handbell sound quality, Malmark and Schulmerich have taken different paths. Each approach has its own merits.

This rich tonal experience stems from their careful design choices, such as using special alloys for casting and precise tuning methods, which give depth and complexity to the bell’s harmonics.

The Emphasis on Fuller Tones by Malmark

Aiming for a robust harmonic overtone in each of their bells is what sets Malmark apart. Their commitment to achieving this through meticulous craftsmanship contributes significantly to creating an immersive musical environment during performances.

Schulmerich’s Use of Modern Technology: Embedded Audio System

Schulmerich, on the other hand, has embraced modern technology by incorporating an embedded audio system into their handbells. This innovative feature allows the Schulmerich bells to produce a clear and consistent sound, enhancing the overall musical experience.

Ringing Comfortably: Ergonomics Matter.

Apart from tonal qualities, both companies also understand how important comfort is during performances. For instance, Malmark introduced adjustable clappers and color-coded handles which allow ringers to perform with greater ease and precision – no more fumbling or missed notes due to discomfort.

Schulmerich isn’t lagging behind either. They’ve come up with ergonomic designs tailored specifically for long ringing sessions – reducing fatigue among musicians without compromising control over bell movements.

A Tale of Two Companies – From Rivals to Collaborators

As you now know, Malmark and Schulmerich are two of the most well-known names in the history of handbell music- a lawsuit was even filed by Malmark against Schulmerich because of their heated rivalry.

This decision wasn’t just about being good sports; it was strategic and born out of necessity for survival amidst changing market dynamics.

The Shift Towards Collaboration

The new heads at these firms realized that working together could lead them further than any legal battle ever would. So they made the bold move towards cooperation rather than confrontation.

  1. Innovation got boosted as resources were pooled instead of wasted on disputes (Jake Malta leaving Schulmerich bells).

  2. Cross-company learning opportunities opened up, leading to product improvements (Malmark sued).

  3. Promotion efforts became more effective, benefiting musicians worldwide who are passionate about this unique instrument.

Ripple Effect On Handbell Industry

This surprising change didn’t just affect these two rivals but had wider implications across the industry, causing positive changes such as:

  • Improved Product Innovation: New designs started emerging from joint brainstorming sessions.

  • Enhanced Customer Service: Satisfied customers noticed improved service levels thanks to shared best practices.

  • Wider Reach & Recognition: Better promotion strategies helped popularize handbells globally, making it accessible for everyone interested in this art form.

Inside Look at The Bucks County’s Bell Shops

In the heart of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, you’ll find two world-renowned bell shops – Malmark and Schulmerich. Not far from one another, these workshops are situated in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

The Buzz in the Workshops: More Than Just Bells Ringing.

Malmark’s workshop hums with activity as artisans painstakingly craft their bells. The process involves casting bronze bells and assembling complex components such as clappers and handles.

Schulmerich’s Workshop – Where History Meets Innovation

The Schulmerich bell shop presents a different scene where echoes of time-honored techniques merge seamlessly with cutting-edge technologies for tuning and finishing their products. It’s history meeting innovation head-on. This balance gives them an edge in creating unique sounds that resonate across continents.

Meticulous Craftsmanship on Display

  • Precision workmanship isn’t only evident in finished products but also throughout various stages within both companies’ production processes.

  • Dedication to achieving sonic perfection sets them apart globally, making them leaders in this niche industry. They take immense pride in not just the final product, but also their methods of production.

  • This commitment to quality makes every visit to these workshops nothing short of fascinating.

Resources and Support

Malmark’s Resources

Malmark, Inc. offers various resources and support to handbell musicians and enthusiasts. They provide a wide range of Malmark bells and equipment, ensuring high-quality sound and durability.

One valuable resource is their partnership with reputable publishers, such as Hope Publishing Company and The Lorenz Corporation. These publishers offer a wide variety of music selections specifically arranged for handbells. Malmark also supports Handbell Musicians of America, a community that provides education, resources, and networking opportunities for bell ringers.

In terms of staying updated, Malmark sends out a newsletter via email, allowing subscribers to receive the latest information on products, events, and promotions. To subscribe, individuals can simply visit Malmark’s website and provide their email address.

Schulmerich’s Resources

Schulmerich also offers a range of resources and support for handbell musicians. They produce a variety of Schulmerich bells, each crafted to deliver an outstanding sound quality and performance.

Similar to Malmark, Schulmerich collaborates with various composers and publishers to provide a diverse range of musical arrangements and compositions tailored to handbells. Schulmerich is also committed to supporting the Handbell Musicians of America, a community that offers valuable resources, education, and connections for those in the handbell world or anyone who was to learn how to ring handbells.

Lastly, to stay informed about new releases, events, and promotions, Schulmerich invites individuals to subscribe to their email newsletter. The subscription process is as simple as visiting their website and providing an email address to receive regular updates.


The journey through the history of Malmark and Schulmerich handbells has been an intriguing one. The bell wars, the legal battles, and their eventual collaboration have all shaped the landscape of handbell ringing.

Both companies have brought significant innovations to this art form. From cleaner sound to adjustable clappers and color-coded handles by Malmark, to unique design contributions from Schulmerich – each company has left its mark.

It’s clear that both manufacturers play a vital role in influencing handbell choirs worldwide with their products’ quality and innovation. As we look forward to what lies ahead for them in terms of further innovation and collaboration, one thing is certain: they will continue shaping the future outlook of the handbell industry.

If you’re as fascinated by this world as we are at the Art Of Handbell Ringing blog, why stop here? Dive deeper into other aspects of handbells on our website.

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