What is the worst instrument you have had to perform on?

I have two. The one I recently played on. It had a gel damper with no gel in it. Go figure.

I played on one in Cuba, where a person had to sit near me because the posts on the vibes would fall over some how and they had to fix the note. But that was Cuba and I felt part of the revolution! So it didn't feel as bad as it seems now!

The one I played at recently was a DRAG. However, I did something I could not have done before. I kind listened from inside and didn't depend on the instrument to give me the sound. This has taken me a long time. It was still difficult, but somehow I think I played decent solos and did some ok comping. Before I would have struggled a lot more!

How about you?

Access: Anonymous

Comments

During the war, there were prohibitions on the use of certain metals. For a while, there was a small bar, single speed motor model with inferior metal in the bars that Deagan made. A college I played at for a while had one from back then. I played one concert on it and it was all the motivation I needed, even though I didn't really know how to play at the time, to spend every last cent I had and buy my own instrument that was real.

The vibrato was single speed and incredibly fast. The whole thing rattled like a balafon, but not on purpose. The damper worked on some notes, but others just rang and I had to hand dampen them. All the bars sounded more like steel drums than vibes. Wait, no... that is an insult to steel drums. Let's just say there were lots of non-harmonic overtones.

Many years later, I played a concert in Chicago and the venue promised me a set of vibes. Wouldn't you know it, the kid brother of the same axe appeared. Same model, even worse shape. The whole thing was made of pressed wood, cheap metal, cardboard and (by the time I was playing on both of them) duct tape.

I now love Deagan vibes. Just not this particular model. :)

Not many percussionists at my college were interested in vibes, so no one paid attention to the instrument we had. It was an M55 with a marching band frame and gigantic rubber tires, and it was never covered up so the parts were not in good shape. No one had the right pump to put air in the tires, so the giant tires were always flat (lots of fun when you have to roll it across the stage!). One year the hook connecting the rod to the frame broke, so we used chicken wire to attach it so we could pedal. Another time, someone plugged the motor into the wall and it sparked and burnt the plug. Plus the pedal was always squeaky no matter what, and the instrument could never stay completey still because the brakes on those ridiculous tires weren't great.

Giant flat tires, a squeaky pedal attached with chicken wire, a burnt cord...it was quite an instrument! Now that I think about it, I should have taken that thing off-roading! ;P

Tony,
I played on your worn out M-48 before I rebuilt it, that was pretty bad... :)

I once had the chance to play a Deagan for the very first time... I was so excited, and it was a beautiful sounding instrument, sounded just like Milt, or Cal. I never played an instrument where I could actually feel the whole instrument vibrating (not like metal rattling but actual tingling) when you hit a bar, down to the pedal. It was an Aurora 2, so everything was going excellent until maybe 8 bars into the first tune when suddenly... SNAP! the pedal rod disconnected, and kept doing that forever.. it was so disappointing having such a beautiful instrument and having to roll the notes like a marimba... bummer. Even worse being the kind of vibes macgyver I am, I know I could have fixed that with a paper clip in 2 minutes...

Other than that, and haters gonna hate, I'm not a big fan of M55s in general. Every time I have to play one of those I grab my heaviest mallet and hit the low Bb... 9 times out of 10 the bar is gonna hit the pulsator blade. Recently I got to teach in Sweden for a week and they had a brand new 55, probably a rental, it was new new... By the end of the week it felt like it was 20 years old... and I'm not a hard player at all.

...and Tony... was that a Piper vibe? the one without gel in the pad?

Amen brother!

yes piper.

about the fans, i just turn the fans a little and all is ok. but i understand. the musser has many problems!

For those who who play with the fans running it is possible to time it just right and clunk, --not a nice sound. Sometimes tightening the bar cord/springs can help keep the bars away from the fans. Also make sure that the resonators are pushed down all the way into the supports.

Either that or just time the hits on the bar to when the fan not fully open ;) -- Let the drummer keep the time...

--IG

Vibes are such a funny mechanical instrument, it's amazing they work at all sometimes... In concept, it seems simple, like an african xylophone. But between the damper/pedal, motor and all that, there is so much that can fail on a gig. Even on good instruments. Not too long ago, I played a gig where I could only get one set of fans to turn - it's was a partial vibrato, LOL! I bet we've all had that thing where the damper is totally uneven...so the lower notes dampen and the upper ones ring, and if you keep tightening the lower ones are TOO dampened, etc. That's why good construction and design are so important.

Other than the trashed Jenco I mentioned in Tony's original post (held up by a board)...I toured Europe with big band in high school using a Deagan Electravibe. It was interesting, and not my own instrument. It wasn't the kind of thing you'd want to play a solo gig on, but it actually worked pretty well night after night, and easy to set-up (see attached photo). Seems us vibists often need to make some compromises!

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'nuff said. (I got you all beat, and I do it all the time)

Whar I come frum if yer talkin' 'bout the Scots we nar say pipe, we say pipes. If it's a single drone yer referrin' then it is a pipe.

Either way, ya got us beat though :)

I'm attending a workshop in my hometown next week. Last year they sorted me out a pretty decent old M55 from a one of the local high schools. It's only flaw: someone had written the notes on the bars!

However, this year there is a teacher's strike on and the schools are not accessible, so I've had to find an instrument to rent for the week. I had some trouble locally in Vancouver and ended up finding an instrument in Seattle. I drove down to pick it up today. It's a Musser M44. I can't believe how tiny it is. It plays well enough, but it's hard getting used to the narrow non-graduated bars and the sound is less than inspiring. On the plus side, it's easy to transport around.

I guess technically I haven't performed on it yet, so we'll see how it goes next week. I'm very much looking forward to what's available at the Delaware workshop later this month!

they will be good!

anyone else have stories?

Brand new Adams vibraphone with a spring on the damper that made my tibialis anterior muscle sore for a week after just 3 songs! Also, tuned to 442 with the big band arrangement having me double flutes in the upper register....... (sad face)

p.s. I had to look up the name for the shin muscle. Also, due to the nature of the engagement, I did not have any time to examine the instrument ahead of time or adjust the pedal.