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Steve Weiss Mallet Workshop


I have an M55 that I would like to rebuild just the wooden harp on...I broke an inner rail sometime ago and although it is repaired, the pull from the spring makes the instrument uneven and spongy. I have a beautiful piece of wood that I want to use but I don,t want to either mess it up or have the cost of a professional woodworker include an unneeded amount of trial and error.. What I want to make is a minimal design, like the prototype for the M48 that GB had in the 80's - no big end caps just an even frame all the way around. I dont use a motor ...
Every time I set about trying to draw it out, I realize that it requires more perfection and knowledge then I have. I would imagine myself doing a bunch of the labor but also hiring my friend who is a cabinet maker, to cut the perfect angles and dovetail or otherwise join the pieces. I am hoping that someone out there has a plan. I imagine a wood frame much like the one that is there only out of beautiful hardwood and with all the extra wood taken away. That way, although it would not come apart into a dozen pieces, it would be as light and lithe a provibe frame as you could make (out of wood) and instead of having heavy metal bumpers and extra endcaps, I would just take really good care of it. If it attached to the legs (like the M48) with knobs, It would be pretty lean least in the kind of car schleping I do.
I would appreciate any tips from people who have done this on a Provibe.
Thanks so much,


IndianaGlen Sun, 11/17/2013 - 14:35

You can do prototypes and use some cheaper wood (Poplar works good for testing). Really the best set of plans is your existing frame/harp. The M55 is basically a good design and the angles and sizes can be copied from it. If you do use an exotic/hardwood for the frame, expect it to be heavier. If you are changing design, the chances are that you are going to have to try different ideas and create some firewood in the process.

The M-48 (GB provibe) is a way different and shares more with an M-75 century in hardware and design.


piro Sun, 11/17/2013 - 16:14

In reply to by IndianaGlen

Hi Glen
Thanks so much for your advice....perhaps I just need to start making some firewood and going thru the process...i was kinda hoping that I could lean on those who have done this before but I guess that each one is a one off.
I love what you did with Joe's M75....I have an old M75 (1951) that has my provibe bars on it now (it sounds really great, a little different...brighter and more overtoney then the original bars...which I have on my provibe frame) but I was thinking of refinishing that frame and straightening all the hardware and tightening everything and getting one of Nico's pads for it...although I am also really interested in getting an Omega frame to put my old M75 bars on....
I remember Gary's instrument from the 80's had a flame maple harp that was super minimal and f I remember right , you could take the harp off the legs.
Is the M48 like a M75 but with folding rails and different legs?

arturo serra Sun, 11/17/2013 - 21:19

In reply to by piro

hi piro ,one thing you most to take care it is about resonators if you think use any m55 or m48 resonators in your prototipe
because the m55 resonators are more longer in size
and the m48 do not fit into a m55 frame, it is alittle more short
I hope helps

IndianaGlen Mon, 11/18/2013 - 09:30

In reply to by piro

You basically are right about the M48 and M75. The M48 has folding rails and take-apart resonators, but the mounting hardware is pretty much the same. Come to think of it the M-75 has a larger front rail and I 'think' the mounding brackets are different for the front rail. I don't have an M-48 around to tell you for sure.

Somewhere on the site is a video of me talking about the rebuild M48 I did for Tony; it was a huge pain to do with the folding rails etc. It took many hours just to get the rails how I wanted them.

Arturo is right the M75 and M48 resonators are different than an M55 they look almost the same but they are not interchangeable. The M55 has a tab that comes out that pushes into the rubber mount on the low end.

A folding take-apart Harp is a PAIN, take-apart resonators are also. So many places for a wobble and dampening problems.

So bottom line. Building a wood frame that copies an M55 is doable with someone with basic to advanced woodworking skills. If you want to copy an M48, that's going to take some serious woodkworking and some metalworking skillz, IMHO.

piro Mon, 11/18/2013 - 16:48

In reply to by IndianaGlen

Hi Glen
Thanks. Yes I want to make a M55 frame that does not fold (rails) but is trimmed down and neat (and yes beautifully made from hardwood maple or I have a really nice piece of aged teak ...which I dont want to mess up)
I have talked at length with John Piper about legs and the truth is I already have a legs base that is really excellent M55 legs with an early BEEFY M brace/pedal made oh so well by Nico. I also have this old M75 which the more I tweak it (bend the bent rail posts back and tighten screws) the more is seems like cutting the harp part off of that and refinishing it and putting that on some lightweight legs would also be a way to go. John Piper hipped me to a place that (designed for me) T slot legs for about five bills that are kind of like scaled down piper legs. Maybe not quite as strong but with the right lightweight bracing, rigid.
I kind of want to do both, but I really need to get the instrument I gig on, back up to snuff.
BTW to combat the tendency of the inner rail to bend downward I supported it with an upright from Nicos pedal to the rail. I might make that perminant because it really adds a lot of support to the center of the harp.
If I could get my hands on an Omega harp, I would. I even think of having my friend who with a metal shop to fabricate something similar...but the allure of beautiful wood is pretty strong...and that M75 you made for Joe is so beautiful.
....I was just thinking that My old M75 (with open side panals) isnt that far off in terms of portability from the Provibe with Nicos enhanced pedal....

IndianaGlen Mon, 11/18/2013 - 17:22

In reply to by piro

The M75 has that support bar that runs through the middle (where the damper attaches). I think that's a pretty good design, but heavy. I made a take-apart frame out of steel that I use for my transportable vibe (M-55). Not light but it's really solid. If you want you can ping me --- (EMail Removed) and we can set up some time to skype. I have both an M75 and and M55 that I can show you real time. I don't check that Email very often so yell at me here if I don't respond in a couple of days.

The next level deeper would be to get a setup that can weld aluminum, i.e. a TIG welder. but a decent one would run between 1500 and 2000. Makes sense to me, however my wife, not so much :)

My schedule is usually nuts but I should be able to shake some time loose if you want to talk real-time.


IndianaGlen Wed, 11/27/2013 - 09:27

I haven't heard from you, and I guess my ISP email may be goofy. If you are buried for the holidays that's cool, I just wanted to be sure you weren't trying to get a hold of me.

piro Sat, 11/30/2013 - 12:56

In reply to by IndianaGlen

Hi Glen
I was trying to get hold of you.Thanks for writing back here...I sent a few emails at your provided address but....Maybe they didnt get thru.
I was talking with my woodworking friend yesterday and he gave me some good advice....I realized that the wood I was going to use is not gunna be right so I am looking for a nice piece. Methinks flamed maple, but some of the other hardwoods are so nice...Any ideas or advice there? also Arturo has made a Provibe frame out of aluminum that I am really interested in seeing pictures of....

IndianaGlen Thu, 12/05/2013 - 11:03

In reply to by piro

The vibe I use for travel is built using Rock maple. But it's pretty heavy. So yeah good advice from your friend. How does mid next week look for you? Like the 11th or 12th? I used the ends from a beat m55 BTW. I am sure it will help you a lot to look at mine.

If it were me, I'd use flame maple for the outside rail and 'plain' maple for the remaining rails. My thinking is that flame maple can be a challenge to keep perfectly straight. The remaining straight grained rails may help things.

If I were to do another frame for my own use, I'd use popular for the rails and a really fancy wood veneer on the audience side rail. Lighter and and pretty.

I also want to see Arturo's aluminum frame!!!

I'll recheck my email this afternoon if I get a chance.


JohnS Mon, 12/09/2013 - 16:25

In reply to by piro

It may be a fairly plain looking wood, but I would think spar grade spruce would make a very light and sturdy frame. I had to cut off and replace the top 6 or so feet of a 34 foot tall sailboat mast, and that's what I used. I ordered it from a place that sells it for making airplane wings ( You could always cover it with a flamed maple veneer if you want a nicer appearance.