Bar to resonator spacing.

I'm building a graduated bar F3 to F6 vibe from scratch using 60.60.T5 aluminium here in Queensland Australia.I have finished all the bars (going up 2 cents every octave on advice from the pianist in my jazz group who is a piano tuner by trade). I've been able to tune the 1st overtone up to Bflat 4. I used 10mm thick bar.

How do I find the best spacing between under the bars and the top of the resonators for best balance of volume and sustain? I am not using fans, so there are no cutouts at the resonator mouths but will use electronics to get some amplified vibrato/tremelo.

How many cents flat would the resonators have to be for good sustain? I suppose they should be less flat up near F6. Any suggestions or is it just cut and try?

I'm just starting on the frame so it's time for dimension planning. I'm a fitter and turner by trade but love woodwork for a change.

It's been 45 years since I touched a vibraphone so i'm looking forward to getting into vibes again but I still gig every week on drums or bass.

It's wonderful to find a source of expertise like this.


Hi suzi01,

Here are some relevant links:

From Nico:

Try this experiment from John Piper:

Take your resonators off. Hit a bar. Turn your resonators upside down over the bars to actually hear the effect of changing its sustain.

There may be others posts here too; put Resonator in the search box to the left.

BTW, how did you choose the alloy for the bars?


Hi Barry
Thanks for all the links!!
60.60.T5 is readily available here and cost less than $200AD (I can only buy it in 4 metre lengths so there is a lot left over to use in the frame struts and damper) but it is the alloy used for aluminium windows and doors so is quite suitable for bars and gives a very good sound.
There is an anodising company in this city, Will getting the bars anodised change the tuning? I can always drill and tune a bar, get it anodised and check it for any tuning change.
Building from scratch has turned out to be a fascinating project.

I asked a bar tuner if I could get bars tuned, then stripped and polished, and he said they would have to be retuned. So, I imaging anodizing would require retuning, but I am not sure. But, since you are tuning them yourself, see what happens! Let us know.

Sounds fascinating. Keep us up to date.



I visited the local anodiser yesterday and found him refurbishing his factory. He is unable to do any bars for me for at least 2 months so I will have to go ahead with the building and visit the anodising question at a later date.


BTW, I've seen this on the web. Are you using this as a guide?


Hi BarryK
I got the plans off but they are pretty sketchy around the "why" of doing things but parts of it are useful. The plans are based on a Premier vibraphone so I located a similar Premier set at the city band hall and inspected it for more information. The plans give good tables for bar and resonator sizes but the frame instructions are poorly engineered so I'm designing my own frame and damper.