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Baton Options

October 27, 2009

Nicolai Malko said in his seminal book, The Conductor and His Baton,that, “. . .the baton should depend on the conductor and not the conductor on the baton.”

But, it should be recognized that we, as conductors, make a concerted decision when it comes to a baton.  How long? What kind of ball end? What color shaft?  Personally, I have owned and used Mollard batons, the 14-inch-long and white-shaft variety.

The other day I sat back and wondered why it was that I am loyal to this type of baton, and I think I have some answers.

First of all, the Mollard 14-inch baton was the very first baton I used at the college level. I bought one during my undergraduate work while I was taking a conducting class with Professor Gary Hill.  He had recommended the baton as a great, and relatively inexpensive and dependable, place to start.  It was not only a place to start, but I wound up sticking with that choice for 20 years (so far)!

The Mollard baton usually balances right where the handle meets the shaft and that makes it rest almost effortlessly in my hand.  I can say after many years of conducting many Nutcracker Ballets that that sense of weightlessness has come to serve me (and my arms and shoulders) well.

I would say the only two problems I have run into with Mollard batons is that they 1) often warp, and 2), sometimes come apart at the grip end.

What other batons are out there? And, what do you rely on as your instrument of choice?

7 Comments leave one →
  1. October 28, 2009 3:09 pm


    Great post and full of geeky conductor fun. For my conducting class at ISU, I use Guy Lake’s Custom Batons for a large class order. He sets up a link on his homepage:

    Where the student can either pay a single price for a baton and bring in the receipt, or the student can order from a list of batons available that Guy will then ship. I asked Guy to send a box of different sizes with different grips, which he was happy to do and I then shipped back to him the extra batons. They are all handmade and are really nice quality, and a little more competitively priced than Mollard.

    Personally, I use the cheapo (less than $6) King David 12 inch batons with the pear cork handle. They are cheap and if lost or broken I don’t feel that wounded when it happens.

    • BrandonM permalink
      October 29, 2009 12:38 pm

      Cool resource, Jacob. I’ll keep that in the back of my mind for the future.

      Currently I use a 14 inch graphite baton with a bulb end. I prefer a thin shaft with a substantial grip for stability. I’d love to switch to a wooden baton, but I have yet to find one that I like as well as my graphite standard. Also, wooden batons (especially thin ones) tend to break, so replaceability is also a big factor. Interesting!

    • Myles permalink
      February 22, 2012 12:44 am

      Jacob, Did you see my post? If you ever want to get rid of any conducting batons expecially from GL. Give me a hollar, ill let ya know!

  2. November 9, 2009 10:16 pm

    I’m currently making my own, or rather, working on making my own. For the past few years, I would get use to one, and fall in love with it, and end up breaking it. I would then repair it, which would sometimes work, but after a few repairs, the baton would no longer be straight.

    Currently I’m working with carbon fiber. It is about the same weight as some wood batons, sometimes a few grams heavier depending on shaft size and length, but it has near the same strength as steel. I’ve done some weight and impact testing and so far so good. Maybe this time I’ll end up keeping a baton around for more than a few months.

    • Myles permalink
      February 22, 2012 12:45 am

      Want to make one for me?? I would love putting them to the test! I would love to start playing around with different woods in making my own batons. Where do you get your supplies for the carbon fiber shafts?

  3. Myles permalink
    October 22, 2011 3:15 pm

    Great Post! I have several batons (may i add, i am only a sophomore in high school) that i have purchased from many different places. 1st, i have two batons from GL Custom Batons, and they are wonderful!!!!! perfectly balanced, graphite shaft, bc i like thinner shafts, and he has many wood styles to choose from!!!!!!!!!! I also have a pickboy baton from amazon and it is the complete opposite size shaft as the one from GL. This one is huge, makes a great rehearsal baton, i use a king david cork baton and AMAZING…Pagu Conducting Baton. Phil has many different looking handles, which are the neatest things!! I have a tenuto, and i would like to purchase a regal handle, they are truly works of art!! Thanks for reading………….!
    Any conductors out there who live near buffalo NY, give me a hollar bc i would love to know about any conducting workshops, i would like to start young, I LOVE CONDUCTING!!


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