Fixing Up Old Vibraphone

I acquired a Yamaha YV-1600 that seems to have been stored in a rather dusty and humid environment. I just finished cleaning it completely, getting crud out of the resonators and using about a hundred Q-Tips to get all the dirt out of every crevice.

The good news is that I was able to give it a complete inspection and there is little to no damage. Everything is intact and I don't need to locate any replacement parts.

The bad news is that the motor doesn't work and the felt on the damping bar is pretty messed, so I have a few questions:

1) Is there a good cleaner for getting the oxidation off the keys? A friend suggested some super fine steel wool and oil, but I'm concerned about messing up the tuning.

2) Has anyone here retrofitted their damping system using gel pads? I picked up this idea from the Wikipedia article about vibraphones and it sounds like it might be a good approach to take.

3) The controller on this instrument seems to be fine - the light turns on and the slider is smooth. I suspect the motor is shot and I was going to check out the electronics with a circuit tester. Does anyone have experience with this? Any idea where replacement parts can be purchased?

The instrument sounds about 100 times better since I cleaned it and has a gorgeous sound. I'm just wondering what it will take to bring it to the next level, especially the damper bar.

Thanks in advance for any and all responses!

- Chris

Barry? Randy? Any advice?

Assuming they are pretty much the same as the Musser and Deagan instruements I have messed with, changing the damper is no big deal. If you like the gel pad (I do not, but that is a matter of taste), it is a super easy job. Take the old one off with a putty knife if it is glued on and glue the new one in place with something that works for those kinds of surfaces. For all I know, Nico may have a recommended adhesive for his gel pad.

I would defer to an expert on cleaning the bars. I would not use anything abrasive at all. I would rather have dirty bars than ones that don't sound good. My choice of experts for this sort of thing is Bill Youhass at Fall Creek Marimbas. Any time I have an issue like this, Bill is my go to guy. Honestly, the bars likely need to be tuned anyway and IMHO, Bill can do a better job than Yamaha did at the factory when they started making those instruments (they have gotten a LOT better now, but it sounds like you have an older instrument). I think if it were mine, I would send the bars to Bill. He can tune them and refinish them.

He may have advice about the other stuff as well, although I think you are ontrack for all of that.

Good luck. Love to hear it when it is healthy and back in the game.

Peace
randy

To replace the motor on your Yamaha Yv-1600, try Yamaha's website, go to the support page and follow the links to 24/7 replacement parts. I used it to get a backup motor for my Yamaha YV-2700. As for removing oxidation from the bars, are they matte finish or shinny? If shinny, you might consider using Flitz polish, applying it carefully with q-tips and wiping with a soft cloth. I have no experience with cleaning matte finish bars. I defer to others regarding gel pads, since I have not replaced the felt on my Yamaha or Deagan vibes.

Good Luck!

Michael

Try a "Magic Eraser" product to clean off the bars. Understand that Magic Eraser products are actually a very fine abrasive but a lot safer than using a sand paper or any other abrasive source. I've not tried it for your application so please report back on the results. I'll bet it will help. Remember, magic erasers are only good with a small amount of water. Using any type of cleaner, detergent or anything other than water, renders their use pointless.

Appreciate everyone "chiming" in here! This is going to be a multi-step process and I'm looking to make the instrument playable instead of having an "oh, there's something wrong with this" feeling about it. It can be made to sound and play better.

I especially like the suggestion of not bothering to clean the keys and just getting them tuned. Definitely will look into that. I think my first step will be to work on the motor because I can do a disassemble, unmount the components, do some more cleaning in there and start testing.

I'm wondering about the reaction to the gel pads. I haven't tried one but my thinking is that it would provide more accurate damping, but maybe that's not such a great thing. Regardless, I will need to replace the damper. Can anyone suggest felt or gel pad sources?

Thanks again. This is all very helpful since I'm pretty much bicycling in the dark, so to speak.

- Chris

Here's a picture of it, the Yamaha YV-1600A...

Yamaha YV-1600A

i'll just go in and say I'm not a gel pad guy. I'm a felt guy so far. but leigh wants me to play with his new progressive dampening gel pad, which i have promised to so.

I was able to get a motor working for a 2700. On one of the circuit boards (I can't remember which one either the motor or the controller) had a couple of broken traces on the PC board around the cable connector. If one knows electronics it's possible to clean the trace and lay a wire and bridge the break with some solder. Also check to see if there's any bent pins on the cable that runs from the controller to the motor. I was able to get a replacement cable from Yamaha by the way (the original one was missing).

(of course all the usual disclaimers about electricity, e.g. getting shocked causing a fire apply)

I agree, leave the bars alone especially if you like the sound. On really dirty brushed bars I've liquid dish soap (not Dawn) and a medium to soft scrub brush; I rinsed them VERY VERY well, and blew air through all the holes where the cord goes through.

Regarding the damper. If all the bars are getting damped OK, I'd leave that alone too. I don't know if a gel pad will work. The damper is shorter than than most vibes (it may also be more narrow but I don't know for sure) and I don't think you can cut a gel pad. Cutting a standard felt bar clean is hard enough. Bottom line, DON'T remove the old damper until you get a new one and see if it fits. -- Sounds pretty basic, but I have done stuff like that before.