There are lots of different kinds of marching bands, all with their own traditions, and although there are some instruments found in virtually every one, others have a special place that's all their own. Marching marimbas certainly fall into this category, which is no surprise - a band that has every member marching into formation won't have room for one of these. But for Corps Style bands and other marching bands that contain a front ensemble (also known as the "pit" or "auxiliary percussion"), one or more marimbas can play an important role in the signature sound of the entire group. If you're looking for a way to really set your band apart, a front ensemble with marching marimbas might be the answer!
Musically, marching marimbas don't differ much from their concert equivalents. The marimba is a cousin of the xylophone and other "keyboard-style" percussion instruments, featuring a fairly large layout of keys atop tubular bells that amplify the sound. The biggest thing that sets marimbas apart from other melodic percussion is their use of resonators to create their characteristic tone - and what sets marching marimbas apart from ordinary ones is that they're designed and built to handle the rigors of being rolled out onto the field. Musser's M501 Coliseum Grand 5 Octave Kelon Marimba, for example, sits on an all-terrain frame with big, knobby tires that easily roll over the turf, even if it's soggy from a recent rainstorm.
Aside from the marimba itself, don't forget to take a look at all the accessories and supplies you'll need to transport, maintain and play it. Cases, for instance, will go a long way to getting the instrument from place to place in one piece - the Adams Academy Series Marimba Soft Case with Wheels is a great choice for Pearl's AMPD30 series, and there are equally good options for any marimba you might happen to choose. Add on a good collection of mallets and cleaning essentials, and you'll be well-prepared to keep those marching marimbas looking and sounding their best for years to come.