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Steve Weiss Mallet Workshop


I recently stumbled upon what I think is a great deal on a Deagan 145. From what I can tell, the instrument is in near-mint condition and the price is certainly reasonable. I'm curious if any of you have much experience performing and gigging with a 145. I'm also looking for suggestions on cases and suitcase-style ideas for transporting the instrument. I am not a jazz player, but I will use the instrument for chamber and solo performances several times a year.


John Keene Sun, 11/30/2014 - 06:49

I checked out the 145 at the Deagan Resource online, and it looks to me like it would be fine for chamber ensemble work. I don't see it being very versatile by today's standards for solo work. The tone quality for classical music might be more satisfactory on a Musser instrument.

I believe that the stock tuning of a Deagan is A-440, so bear that in mind if your chamber ensembles tune higher than that.

Tony turned me on to Beiner Bags, and Gary has recommended a fine case company whose name I can't remember. Both will take good care of you.

IndianaGlen Tue, 12/02/2014 - 13:18

The Deagan Model 35 is not the same vibe as the 145, but in the same ballpark perhaps -- it's close to the same era with non graduated bars.

I made a bracket and put on a variable speed motor to control the tremolo speed.

The good side is that it's REALLY easy to set up and move. The sound is really nice, however, the low bars don't produce much volume vs. a graduated bar vibe. Harder mallets help some with projection with the sacrifice of tone. I play with a some friends from time to time in an acoustic setting and I can play just fine with a wide bar musser un mic'd. The deagan would need mics if I used it with them on a regular or gigging basis. The other down side is since the bars are all the same size, 4 mallet work is a challenge if I am practicing on a wide bar instrument and I have to switch back and forth. So the 35 stays in my attic.

Cases would likely have to be custom and Beiner and others certainly makes great bags. Since everything is much smaller than a typical modern vibe you may be able to find a hard case that's made for something else, like a case for artwork/sales display.

If it's cheap enough I'd give it a shot, I think the sound would fit great into some chamber music. The percussive attack of a vibe can really add some nice flavor to fiddles and other instruments as well.

Unless it's been retuned (which isn't likely), it will be at A=440, and everyone would need to tune to the vibe, of course. I would also use a cheap tuner to see if the bars are basically in tune. If it's way out expect to pay to get it tuned ($100-$300 is a guess).

It would be possible to get it retuned to A=442, or even higher if necessary.


Luke Hubley Wed, 12/03/2014 - 00:49

In reply to by IndianaGlen

Thanks for the reply Glen. I'm excited to say that I finalized the deal and am picking up the instrument later this week. You're right, the frame design on this one is a y-style, and is therefore very portable. My only concerns for transport are the resonators and the box-style rails, but I'm going to look into different options.

Regarding bar sizes, the 145 has graduated bars. I think the low-end bars are 2" wide and a half-inch thick, which I think is a little smaller than the M-55, but larger than narrow-bar instruments like the M-44. I'll have to wait to see if volume is an issue.

IndianaGlen Wed, 12/03/2014 - 09:20

In reply to by Luke Hubley

I assume If you are doing chamber work, I would spend some time with a good violin player as most have good ears and may be able to tell you if your new axe needs tuning. TONY: works with a Violin player so he may have some good advice about strings and bars and such.

I am fairly sure the newer Graduated bar Deagans have similar/same dimensions as yours. Hey if they were good enough for Milt Jackson... Looking at the picture, I just assumed it was a narrow bar, so thanks for the reply and the update.

For my M-55 I made cases for my resonators out of corrugated plastic, some angle aluminum and pop rivets. I wrap my resonators in moving blankets I got from harbor freight before they go in the cases.

OK I am totally jealous. I love my mussers but there is something really special about graduated bar Deagans.