College sophomore looking to buy his first vibraphone

Hey everyone, My name is Dawson. I'm studying Jazz Performance at Missouri State University and I need some guidance in buying a set of vibes, as I've never done this before. I'd really like to start gigging around town once I get a set. The problem is that I drive a '98 Toyota Corolla -- not the biggest car -- so portability is really important to me. Also, as a college student I'm not a huge fan of spending money, so I'd really like to avoid breaking the bank/taking out a loan to buy this instrument.

From what I've read, Musser is pretty much the way to go. I've gathered some interest in the M46 One-Nighter. It's just at $3,000 which is pretty much as high as I'd like to go. It's description online says it's ideal for the gigging vibist, but I wanted to come here to confirm that with you all first. Does anyone here have any expirience transporting this model? Is there a set of traveling bags I can buy to make transportation easier? Do you think it will fit in my car? LOL

Thanks everyone. This is a pretty cool website. I wish I would have discovered it way earlier.

Dawson

dawson,

if steve weiss has m46's still available for 3 grand. just do it. you won't be sorry. you might regret not having a motor. you can save money and buy that later. I'm sure it will fit. or save, sell the 46 and by a 55 or better yet an OMEGA :-)

you are a young student interested in the vibes. you need a simple portable set of vibes. there are a few great sounding vibes, but they are NOT portable. that's the problem. you will hate packing them up and moving them around. I've seen this happen over and over. once you get a good portable set of vibes, after that you can then consider one of the other models.

if you are going to learn to play this instrument you are going to have to move the vibes around.

next either buy cases or get very thick blankets and bungee cords. and be very careful if you don't get cases.

do me a favor, if you get the vibes, get them from steve weiss (the cheapest and best) and tell them i sent you and you are a member of vibes workshop! :-)

Do what Tony is recommending. Very solid advice.

Hi Dawson,

You're smart to think carefully. You may own your vibes a long time.

I bought a new Musser M55 Pro-Vibes when I was in college (back in the last millenium, WAY back). Used my car as collateral for the loan. Only new instrument I ever bought before buying a new set of concert timpani this century. Still have my M55, still love it, but it has always been a pain to move for a one night gig.

There are now much lighter electronic options. I broke down recently and bought a malletKat Pro (only 14 pounds). I already had to haul an amp many nights for the M55 because I use the acoustic mic strips (the Electro-Vibe, lots of people don't like them but I do, they don't make them anymore) for volume reinforcement. My Pro-Vibe and cases weigh like 150 lbs, so going electronic saved me a lot of hauling effort each night.

There are technique differences and performance considerations between an electronic vibes (really a MIDI controller) and a traditional acoustic vibes (dampening still feels different to me); but since you're still in school, I would assume you can get plenty of practice time on traditional vibes. So perhaps electronic would be an option for you to consider for now.

P.S. It will fit in your Toyota.

Good Luck,

Tina Lake

Thanks everyone!

Dawson,

It would be a very good idea to see if you can see if the frame of the vibe you choose will fit in your car.

If the frame fits everything else should fit too. Before I got the car I have now, I used to pack everything in a 2006 Toyota Avalon. I could get the frame across the back seat and I'd buckle the resonators etc. with the seatbelts and padded everything with moving blankets. I would have to open the window and hold up the frame while up I shut the door; then I'd have to roll up the window from the front seat. It was a lot of fun when it was raining, and was not kind to my and doors and seats, but it did fit. If you're tight on space soft bags are good, but you'll have to buy them extra. The frame of an M55 is 55 3/4" in length, but the shape is funny so you'll have to be careful to test and don't assume fit off of my measurements.

The frame is basically the same on the M55 as the new M46 size-wise. Agree Tony's advice for sure. Bottom line is getting a graduated bar ax is the way to go if you want to get serious about playing. If you lived closer to Indianapolis, I'd could help you with a test fit on my M55. I always wondered if one of those rooftop compartments would fit a vibe frame. Lifting it off and on would be quite a work out, but heck you're a college kid, you are indestructible.

IG

Steve Weiss discontinued that vibraphone so now I'm back to square one.

which one? the 46? So there are no more left? Did you call and ask?

The problem with a Piper, a Yamaha, Majestic and on and on is it's a pain in the ass to move around. You will regret buying any of those as your first instrument. You will be hopefully taking that instrument all over! They are good sounding instruments but you can't pack them up and throw them into a car as I say over and over.

The only two where you can set up in 5 minutes or less is the m55 and the Omega. The m55 is the standard and myself and Joe Locke and a few other guys really had an input on that instrument. So the design was from the perspective of professional musicians and portability.

You can find used m55s. If you need parts I have the parts catalogue and can help you. Just be patient and look around. Make a google alert for 'used vibraphone' and 'm55' or whatever you want.

Yeah, the M46. I emailed them about it and they said the product had been discontinued and they ran out of them. I'm not a huge fan of Piper vibraphones. I'll keep my eye out for used M55's. My university has one of those and I like it a lot, I'm just not a fan of dropping $4,500+.

Thanks!

well, but if you have the money, this instrument can last you your lifetime. in a way 4500+ is not a lot of money. if you don't have it then it's a lot of money!

you get my point.

Is the Piper difficult to move around? My only experience with one was at the Delaware workshop a few years back, but I didn't have to move it.

very heavy and difficult.

I have seen several new One Nighters popping up on Craigslist. Methinks some people have bought off all the remaining stock and are now trying to resell them for a profit.

Hi Dawson,
I was that College student looking to buy my first vibraphone about 12 years ago now. Yikes!
These are good points that Tony and others mentioned. Main reason you need your own instrument, assuming there is one at the school for you to play on, is so you can get out and gig! I bought an Adams as my first instrument. The thing is big and heavy, but broke down small enough to fit into my honda accord. I have mixed feeling about the Adams, but it was a simple instrument that was basic to set up. Man, I put a lot of miles on that vibraphone. Being able to play outside of school is huge. I think that's one reason there are so many more experienced horn and guitar players than vibists.

I also second the idea of- save up a little more and get a nice axe. If you buy something without a motor, or something cheap, it may not be worth it in the long run. Borrow some dough from a family member- it's a good cause and the instrument will hold its value. An m 55 is always a safe bet, although I've played on some nice Yamaha's as well, but not the entry level ones. I think some other brands that are fancy and innovative (not mentioning names) are also overly complicated and overbuilt. More proprietary parts that might break on the gig. So, just check it out thoroughly before you take a chance on a new or lesser know instrument. Try taking it apart, see what you're signing up for before pulling the trigger.

A malletkat is great for portability, but it's a different animal. I wouldn't suggest that as an alternative to the real thing.

My 2 cents.

-Tyler

You are a student interested in feel. You need a set of portable, simple feel. There are few feelings better sound But they are not portable. That is a problem. You will hate packing them and move them around, I've seen this happen over and over again. When you get a portable kit of good feeling after that you can consider one of the other forms.
300-075 vce