Wonderful Cymbells! - by Christine D. Anderson

When Cymbells® first came out, I couldn't wait to get my own octave! I was given C6-C7 early on, and started experimenting with different ways of using this new instrument. I'm so glad I chose this particular range - not too high, not too big - just right!

I had recently joined the Worship Team at my small church but not using a table full of bells in the "normal" way. I was asked to do "improv." Yikes, I never learned how to read guitar chords or follow a chart - I ring the melody! And then there are all the key changes. I started ringing on my multi-pronged bell tree, but the Sunday I had 7 strings of bells for all the key changes, I thought, "That's it! I have to find a better solution."

Enter my brand new Cymbells... then I had another problem – I needed a few more bells beyond the range of Cymbells set I own. I loved having the entire octave, all 13 castings, permanently fixed, nothing to move around! But I needed bells lower than C6, and higher than C7. I pondered this awhile, and tried tying ribbons on the handles, and tying the ribbons to the lower bar. That worked OK but the extra bells swung back & forth too much, and I had to be careful they didn't clang into each other. The solution I finally came up with works perfectly, and I'm able to hang 8 extra bells without clangs.

I hang 3 larger bells to the left of the stand, and 5 little ones to the right. The first step is to get "S" hooks large enough to fit over the lower bar. I bought thick rubber tie-downs with metal S hooks that I cut off each end. Then I bought tiny S hooks to hook onto the big ones so I could vary the heights of the bells hanging: if the rim of one bell is horizontal to the waist of the neighbor bell, there is less chance of clangs. Then on the handles...I use "twisty locks" around the end of handles - they are small plastic covered wire circles that you open & close by twisting into a figure 8. Also attached to the circles are little metal rings that hook onto the S hooks.

This system is working well, and I'm finally getting more comfortable with this improv thing! At first, I freaked out when given a chart with a song I didn't know, until I realized, what difference does it make? I never play the melody, anyway - ha! If it sounds good, ring it, if it doesn't, damp it. Recently we had a bunch of glitches in the band - the bass broke a string, the substitute bass blew the amp, guitars had tuning issues... and I stood there enjoying my wonderful instrument that was not high maintenance, didn't need to be tuned, volume controlled by the mic, and not prone to breaking! I feel I've only scratched the surface of what can be done with Cymbells.

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