The German company Meinl is unique amongst the major manufacturers in producing equally broad ranges of both cymbals and percussion instruments. Adding to Meinl's already generous timbale offerings are these mid-range Marathon Series Timbales.
The Marathon Timbales are a formidable, heavyweight pair - 15"x8" and 14"x8", made from 1mm gauge steel, strengthened with two circumferential flanged beads. There are four finishes - Black Nickel, Brass, Chrome and the unusual Antique Matte of the review pair.
Timbales require a specialised stand and Meinl's is impressively strong and stable with its double braced tripod, goodly height extension, stout memory lock and geared tilter. The shells themselves have the usual paired hook rings welded to the steel hoops which stack over one another and are then bolted tight over the centre support post. Through this also passes the L-arm for mounting cowbells etc, which also has two extension locking nuts for positional flexibility.
"All timbales can be fearsomely loud, but this pair, with their steel shells, can easily blow your head off"
All timbales can be fearsomely loud, but this pair, with their steel shells, can easily blow your head off. At 8", the shells are of the deeper variety for timbales and give each stabbing rim shot an extra depth. Playing your cascara on the hembra shell the tone is hard, less tunefully complex than with brass timbales, but the extra shell depth again adds a welcome touch of duskiness.
Meinl's thin timbale heads have the logo printed on underneath the semi-transparent membrane. Centre strokes are dampened but the rims have the necessary ring. Tuning of the six chromed lugs is smoothly undertaken with the included, heavyweight L-shaped key - and Meinl also throws in a small bottle of lubricating lug oil in case it's ever needed.
We found the tuning range from deeper throatier tones to taut and brittle taps impressive. The thick, chromed steel hoops are kind to your sticks and you'd better have your earplugs in place when you go for your solo - ear splintering, stinging sharp strokes just peel off the rims.