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Steve Weiss Mallet Workshop



I am in process of building my own set of 3 8va vibes. I have all the bars cut to the proper length with no node holes drilled as of yet. They are 1/2" thick and come in 2, 1 3/4 and 1 1/2 inch widths.

Who can I send them to for INITIAL tuning to either A-440 or A-442? I either do this or buy one on line? Help is appreciated.

I am conductor of a large civic band here in Clearwater (Dunedin) FL and we need a set but cannot spend $4K on a new outfit. Anything would help. Thanks.

Dr. Z


tonymiceli Wed, 03/21/2012 - 23:03

I think 'fall creek marimba' will tune the bars.

Wow you made the bars!!!!!! Can we here it once the bars are tuned???

John Keene Thu, 03/22/2012 - 09:11

In reply to by tonymiceli

Fall Creek will do it right, and I would guess that 442 would be the way do go for concert band tuning since that seems to be the norm these days.

drzagar Thu, 03/22/2012 - 09:55

In reply to by John Keene


Just responded to another post re: initial bar tuning. The problem was the high cost of up to $800. I did talk with Fall Creek who wanted me to wait til the frame was built (start that next week) before he would tune the bars. Suggestions for less expensive shop out there?

Dr. Z

John Keene Thu, 03/22/2012 - 10:31

In reply to by drzagar

I think that the price quoted was based on it being an "initial" tuning. Fall Creek quoted me a fourth of that amount to tune my bars on a refurbishing job, that that price was based on the bars already being tuned and all they had to do was tweak up the tuning. From what I'm gathering, your tuning job would be from scratch so it would naturally be very labor intensive.

It sounds like the best route is to buy a set of bars if that is an option, and then you can build a frame to suit the bar size. At the $800 quote, you're already a third of the way there to a brand new set of bars anyway. I think that Tony would agree that the advantage with Fall Creek (or Nico vanderPlas) is that it will be done right the first time; a cheaper shop may result in paying for it several times by the time it's eventually finished.

nico Thu, 03/22/2012 - 14:11

In reply to by John Keene

$800 is really cheap. It is about a 20 hour job if you don't have the huge machinery I have here.
That means $40 an hour, of which also rent and inventory is to be paid. Rest alone the craftmanship that should be paid for, don't you think? Or do you think the knowledge just flew in thru the window?

We do the job in 8-10 hours starting with blank bars, but then, we have a costly computerized machine here that also costs a fortune.

I wouldn't even think of doing the job for $1000.

Maybe you should do the job yourself ;-)

vanderPlas Baileo

drzagar Sat, 03/24/2012 - 19:10

In reply to by nico

HI Nico:

Appreciate the comments but let me tell you, as a performing musician for the past 40 or so years, I know talent COSTS. But, I was inquiring as to whether the approx. cost was realistic not having ANY experience in this kind of thing. I was told that simply slapping a metal bar on a computer controlled "tuning maching" did indeed represent a cost, but with the machine doing the actual tuning and, well, where is the "human" time involved. I may be wrong. Having a musician's ear and all the tuners I really need, I probably could take the time do to the work, but thought it might be more efficient (and provide a JOB for someone in this economy!) to have the work done outside. I have the time to do it, but would worry that not having the EXPERIENCE in such things might end up costing me more to redo the job than having it done correctly from the getgo. Comments?

Dr. Z

BarryK Sat, 03/24/2012 - 20:48

In reply to by drzagar

Dr. Z.,

I don't believe that the CNC machine actually does the fine tuning. It probably just cuts the arch.

Here is an article by Bill Youhass on tuning. It gave me an appreciation of what goes into tuning. I am sure it is tricky to tune the overtones while at the same time keeping the fundamental in tune.
The main site:

BTW, I had Bill do some work for me, and I would recommend him.


nico Sun, 03/25/2012 - 04:31

In reply to by drzagar

the cnc machine prepares the first cut, offering a better base for final tuning,whih is done by hand thru an experienced person.
It took me about 10 years and thousands of bars before I reached the tuning skills needed to make the perfect bars. And even with my skills and machinery, I mess up 2 bars every 5 sets.

Being a musician is actually of no importance here.You won't be able to make a decent bar, unless fcourse you're a genius by nature ;-)

Tuning a vibe bar is a bit more complicated than tuning a guitar or piano string, as it is I believe one of the few instruments where more than just the fundamental harmonic is tuned.

So go for Bills offer, it is enormously cheap.


drzagar Thu, 03/22/2012 - 09:52

In reply to by tonymiceli


I did speak with the person at Fall Creek. Interesting guy and funny. Cost he quoted was up to $800. Heck for $200 more I can buy a set on line (auction ends today). I had the aluminum cut from very high quality stock at a local shop (turns out the guys there are all musicians...go figure)and were really interested in the project. I had all the exotic wood for the frame cut by another local hard wood shop (more musicians!) and all I really need is the bars node holes drilled and the backs shaved and tuned. If I can't find SOMEONE who would tune the bars (again, they have never been touched on the back), I might consider just buying an older set, doing some refurb and away ya go ready for our next season in Sept. Suggestions?

Dr. Z

tonymiceli Thu, 03/22/2012 - 18:04

In reply to by drzagar

Well it's time consuming to tune, so 800 doesn't sound out of line for me.

What size Bars will fit? Musser? Premiere? Yamaha?

And finally you said getting ready for next season. What season would that be?

F_Poser Wed, 04/04/2012 - 06:01

For tuning vibes/marimba/xylophone bars I can highly recommend Mr. Gilberto Serna the master tuner of the former Deagan Company - now Centurymallet. This guy seems to know everything about the tuning of bar instruments and he is very very experienced (which is a very important quality criterion for my opinion). For me he is "the man"!
If you want to contact him go to