Frequent Questions

What bells do you use?
River City Ringers play 5 octaves of Schulmerich bells, ranging from C3 (below the bass staff) to C8 (an octave above the treble staff). We also ring 5 octaves of Malmark handchimes.

How much do your bells weigh?
We bring 5+ octaves to each concert, typically 60-70 bells. The smallest weigh only 1/2 pound, but the largest weigh over 7 pounds! In total, our bells weigh more than 110 pounds (not counting their cases). Luckily, many of our bell cases have built-in wheels to help make transporting them easier.

How much does your equipment cost?
You might be surprised, but handbells requires a surprising amount of equipment!
– 5 octaves of bells: $26,000
– 5 octaves of chimes: $5,000
– tables, foam, tablecloths: $5,000
– mallets, stands, lights: $2,000
– music: $1,000 / season

Why do you wear gloves?
Brass handbells tarnish easily when exposed to hand oils. Several techniques require placing a hand or fingers on the bell, and the gloves help protect the bells and extend their life. We also use brass polishing cloths after each rehearsal and more intensive polishing twice a year to keep our instruments in top condition.

How does playing handbells differ from other instruments?
When playing handbells, each ringer is responsible for only a pair of notes (plus their accidentals). Ringers work together to ensure that the entire choir sounds like a single instrument. Handbell music shows all notes on the same staff; players must focus on only the notes matching their assigned bells for that piece.

Do you play at private events?
Although most of our full concerts are free and open to the public, we also play a number of private events each season. We have special “12-bell” arrangements that allow for a half-size choir to play in almost any venue with much less space and equipment. Contact our publicity representative to discuss more details.