Why Do Handbell Ringers Wear Gloves?

gloved hands near handbells

Handbell gloves are an essential accessory for every handbell ringer- even a requirement in many circles! Not only do handbell gloves protect the bells from damage, but they also provide comfort and support to the hands of bell ringers. In this blog post, we’ll explore the different types of handbell gloves available, their benefits, and how to choose the right pair for you.

What Are Handbell Gloves? The Basics

Handbell gloves are specially designed gloves made of cotton, leather, or nylon that are worn by handbell ringers. More often than not used by handbell choirs during performances, they are the best way to ensure that hands are covered during bell ringing as well as protect the bells themselves from sweat or oil from the skin.

Benefits of Wearing Handbell Gloves

Handbell gloves offer a myriad of benefits to ringers when it comes to making handbell music. Bell ringers wear gloves to provide cushioning and support, for less hand fatigue during long practice sessions or performances. In addition, they help keep your grip on the bells steady and secure so that you can play with precision and accuracy.

Besides the practical benefits, handbell gloves also provide an additional layer between your skin and the bell. They protect your hands from contact with the metal of the bells, which can cause skin irritation and even certain types of injury over time. They can also help keep the bell cleaner by absorbing sweat and hand oils from one’s skin, thus preventing any buildup that could interfere with the overall sound quality while creating music.

Types of Handbell Gloves

There are several different types of handbell gloves available on the market today. Cotton gloves are lightweight and breathable, making them ideal for practice sessions or warm climates. Leather gloves are more durable and provide a better grip on the bells, making them a good choice for performance situations or cold temperatures. Nylon gloves also offer added protection and comfort for bell ringers, making them a great all-around choice.

Some gloves also feature plastic dots on their palms for extra grip, or Velcro wrist fastenings for a snug fit. Most people prefer some method of enabling extra grip, especially when it comes to cotton gloves- this is for extra control when planning to play handbells during a performance.

What is the Difference between Practice vs. Performance Handbell Gloves?

When selecting handbell gloves, one should be aware of the difference between practice and performance gloves. Practice handbell gloves are designed with a thin material that reduces the likelihood of slipping, and also offers more sensitivity to the touch while playing. On the other hand, performance handbell gloves are typically thicker, which provides better protection to hands but decreased comfort and feel.

Depending on the intended purpose, it is important to select the right glove for either practice or performance in order to maximize one’s comfort, as well as improve the quality of the tone produced by the bell from each ring.

How to Choose Handbell Gloves

When choosing handbell gloves, it’s important to consider your needs as a ringer first and foremost. If you’re looking for something lightweight and comfortable for practice sessions, then blended cotton gloves are probably your best bet. For music performances in colder temperatures or when extra grip is needed, leather gloves may be a better option. It’s also important to make sure that you get a pair that fits properly- too tight can be uncomfortable and cause blisters, while too loose of a fit may not offer enough personal protection or grip on the bells.

One can also consider the aesthetics when it comes to choosing a pair of gloves for bell ringing. White gloves are the traditional choice, providing a classic look and an iconic feel to musical performances. However, black gloves have become increasingly popular for their sleek aesthetic and the way that they contrast with the vibrant colors of the bells. Black or white gloves can provide equal comfort and protection, so it’s ultimately a matter of personal preference for one’s style of playing the handbells.

Are there different sizes of handbell gloves?

Handbell gloves come in a variety of sizes to accommodate different hand shapes. Generally, there are small, medium, and large sizes available depending on the manufacturer. Additionally, some manufacturers offer extra-large sizes for people with larger hands and fingers as well as children’s sizing for smaller hands. To ensure an optimal fit, measurements of one’s thumb and fingers may need to be taken prior to purchasing handbell gloves to ensure that they fit correctly and provide maximum comfort during use.

What if I decide not to wear gloves?

For some handbell ringers, wearing gloves is not always the best option. Not wearing gloves allows for more direct contact with the metal of the bells, which some find to be more comfortable and therefore make the handbells easier to ring. Additionally, you may find that you prefer how the handbells sound without gloves, as the absence of any additional material on your hands can affect the tones produced by each bell. However, not wearing gloves does come at a price: it can cause skin irritation, or damage the handbells over time due to no barrier being present between one’s skin and the bell.

Proper Care and Maintenance

Proper care and maintenance of handbell gloves is essential for maximizing their lifespan and keeping them in top condition. Cotton gloves should always be washed by hand with a mild detergent after each use to ensure that sweat, dirt, or germs do not build up on the material. Cotton gloves should also be air-dried away from direct sunlight or heat sources.

When it comes to storage, it is important to keep handbell gloves (especially nylon gloves) in a cool, dry place when they are not being used to prevent mold or mildew build-up. Additionally, it may be beneficial to inspect the gloves before each use to ensure that there are no rips or tears present that could make the gloves uncomfortable to wear while playing the handbells.


Handbell gloves are an important and necessary accessory for every handbell ringer. Not only do they protect from skin irritation and injury due to contact with metal, but they also provide stability and improved grip on the bells. Different types of gloves are available depending on individual needs and preferences, including cotton gloves or leather varieties. Ultimately, proper care and maintenance of handbell gloves is essential for ensuring their longevity and peak performance. With the right pair of gloves, you can enjoy a safe, comfortable, and successful handbell ringing experience and focus on creating beautiful music that wows your audience!

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