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So I thought I'd post on ways people fix up their instrument, especially the older ones. For instance ringing. I have in the past taken a piece of felt and tied it over the felt pad to stop the ringing. Even a few pieces to raise just that part.

Any other ways (besides replacing the pad)?

I bet you could use yarn and do something with that.


tonymiceli Thu, 11/11/2010 - 23:42

In reply to by djohn

i'm so unhandy that i've had to find dumb ways to fix things. i have a gel pad on an old m55 and i used yarn to puff up parts of the gel pad because if wasn't working right. i'm pretty horrible at fixing things up.

Randy_Sutin Fri, 11/12/2010 - 14:49

In reply to by tonymiceli

the main reason on my instrument that some notes start to ring more than others after a while is because I work with a lot of bands that play in flat keys, particularly F and Bb. Some notes get played more than others, so the felt gets packed down. Here's two ways I address it prior to replacing the felt.

1. I have a tool that piano tuners use to soften the felt on hammers. It looks like an awl, but it has a rotating head on it that allows it to be positioned at up to a 90 degree angle and it has a series of replaceable metal needles. I couldn't find a picture of the one I own, but here is a model with a fixed head:…

2. Moleskin from Dr. Scholls. Cut a piece and stick in on the damper bar under any note that is ringing too long. Sometimes two thicknesses are required.

djohn Thu, 11/11/2010 - 19:42

I do have one question that might fit into this thread.

There seem to be individual bars that rest slightly lower than the others. and these few bars then get dampened sooner when the pedal is released slightly. This can be a real nuisance. How does this happen. It looks to me like the pins are all as far in as they go. Is there more one can adjust here?

I'm assuming it's impossible for the holes in the bars (for the string) not to be at the right height or something, right? So how does this happen?

curious to hear your thoughts.

drslg Sat, 01/01/2011 - 14:58

if your like me and have a ludwig and ludwig, your in luck. On top of the dampeniig bar, there are 2 nuts that can be tighten or loosened. tightening will raise the bar up, stopping the ringing. loosening will bring the pedal down, letting them ring. Looks like "ancient" technology from the 60's wins this time.

drslg Thu, 01/06/2011 - 20:13

In reply to by drslg

id your like me, you are in trouble. The strings come right out of the posts and the ringing continues. i am going to try something else, but at the moment, the nuts aren't helping.

Piper Sun, 01/09/2011 - 06:52

In reply to by drslg

Can you show a close up picture of the bar mounts used on the inside rails? If they're like the Saito (sp), where the inside rails have the same style of posts as the outside, there's nothing holding the bars down other than gravity. If this is the case, it would be well worth it to replace the inside rail posts.

Great looking instrument and the great thing about the vibraphone is that you can fix just about anything on it (if you're brave).

drslg Sun, 01/09/2011 - 09:45

In reply to by Piper

AFter removing the bar, we found that it was not level, giving uneven bar pressure. After that we tried to different felts. we tried weather striping and that didn't work. we tried this weird felt stuff and that is working. if hangs the note when you dampen, but it is better than a buzz. It also sounds nice when the dampener is up. I have been thinking about replacing the bar replace the mounts on the inside with the ones on the m55, so i can still remove the bars easily. The vibe sounds great when a melody or chord is played and it hangs, but when one note is played, it sounds bad

Piper Sun, 01/09/2011 - 21:32

In reply to by drslg

I've tried many different substances to find the perfect damper. I've used whether stripping also... and many, many other soft things to try. Nico has found the best recipe to date but the instrument also has to have certain mechanics that will help the player. BUT, listen to Gary Burton... it is my undersanding (and belief) that none of this matters a bit to him. He makes the bars play and what ever you supply him with, he makes it work and sing. I really like this. I've gone a complete circle on this.

tonymiceli Sun, 01/09/2011 - 23:24

In reply to by Piper

Right in piper. I wonder if gary has felt or silicone, I bet felt.

To me they both work great.

The other thing that is amazing is that all the geeky posts have soooo many comments!!!!

tpvibes Mon, 01/10/2011 - 09:52

In reply to by tonymiceli

I remember hearing Stan Getz interviewed by someone on NPR many years ago -- Getz wasn't being very cooperative. The interviewer asked if there was any special construction Getz needed from a saxophone to get his sound. Getz replied that he could get that tone from any saxophone, that's just how he heard it.

What made this stick in my mind is that the tone of Getz's response made it clear that he had prefaced it in his mind with something like, "Geez, another dumb-ass question!".

Tom P.

Piper Tue, 01/11/2011 - 07:19

In reply to by tonymiceli

Yes. I think there's more to the "it's the way I hear it in my head" phrase than we give it credit. Make subtle changes in our playing to match the sound of what we hear in our heads. This is what separates real time playing from midi.

drslg Wed, 02/02/2011 - 14:06

In reply to by Piper

is there a good way to dampen a vibe with post like saito( open post). We have tried a lot of things, but they either buzz or leave the note hanging. The hang sounds nice when you play something slow but sixteenth notes sound terrible! We have tried to pull the string down and stop the bars from lifting with the dampener, but that only created buzzing. Without modifing the posts, what can we do?

Piper Tue, 12/28/2010 - 09:17

This is a very frustrating post to me. Now, the trivia question is Why?

Piper Sat, 01/01/2011 - 12:14

In reply to by drslg

Okay, I'll try to do this without my head splitting open or sounding like a "know-it-all".

Frustrating? I went through so much to solve this problem about 15 years ago. If you think sticking little pieces of felt will solve the problem, it might provide temporary relief for a while but this is not the solution. It will only move the problem from one place to another.

The 60's technology is not the answer either though it can help with getting the two ends level(er).

The damper is a solid piece of metal with felt on it. If you only have one spring under the middle of your damper, the muting of the bars will be most efficient directly under the spring and the ends will receive only a small benefit of the pressure. Imperfections along the way (bar mounts, bar holes and wooden damper rails) will all contribute to the inefficient damping of the bars. If you are handy and mount springs on the ends, you will have a bow in the middle and the instrument becomes difficult to pedal and damping becomes worse.

Back in the 90's I was experimenting with everything from making my own felt (from dryer lint) to toy slime, thawed freezer pops, and detergent-filled bladders to create a damper that would work evenly on all bars on an imperfect instrument (m55). The best I came up with was a cut liquid filled bicycle inner tube with piano felt blanket over the top of it and the ends clamped. The liquid distributed the energy from the springs in relatively balanced pressure to all the bars. The liquid was able to absorb the vibrations perfectly. The fluidity could also compensate for imperfections in the hung bars, wooden rails and imperfect wholes and took care of business extremely well.

The difficulty was in the manufacturing of the product but we (Musser and I) eventually came up with a compromise between the soft more natural type of rubber and the product that is used now ( I think it's still being used). It still works well but I like Nico's gel pad better though it cannot compensate as well for imperfections. Nico's is easier to use and lasts forever if you take care of it and my vibe frame is perfect because it's machined into metal.

The other imperfections are created by using wood for the inside rails. Wood frames are not rigid enough for good rails on a vibraphone. They make noise, the bend and they change over time. Aluminum is great but if you use solid aluminum, like on the Piper Vibe, it's too heavy. That's the reason to make a carbon fiber instrument. You get the rigidity of metal and the weight of wood. I don't think the objective is to try and make it lighter than a Musser M55 but to make it AS light (or lighter) as an M55 but as "perfect" as a Piper Vibe.

I see that Nico has committed himself to coming up with a light weight instrument using carbon fiber (finally). This is great but it also looks like he's still insisting on all the bells and whistles of an electronic keyboard (sorry nico). I'd really like to see him focus on making a simple vibraphone in three sizes. Tall, Medium and Short. Make it PERFECT, with shock-absorbing bar mounts, his damper with wide pedal and easy tear down and use for air travel. Those are the priorities, not something that can make it almost sound like something else.

Then (Nico), after you cover the "priorities" (sound, weight, transport ability), add the bells and whistles as an add on.

Here are a few things you can do to help your instrument now:
1. This is rule No. 1 (for all vibraphones): Get in the habit of disengaging the damper when you're not playing it. If you take a break for even 5 minutes, disengage the spring. It's not that difficult. Reach down and turn the nut on the spring or create a bungee cord that will hold the damper down away from the bars when the instrument is not being used. When the damper is constantly pushing on the bars, the felt gets smashed down in those areas. This eventually causes the felt to buzz when it touches the bars. It also creates bruised areas in the damper pad that can no longer dampen well.

2. If you are using the standard felt that came with your instrument and damping is an issue for you, replace it with Nico's pad and then, from this day forward, follow rule No. 1.

3. If you have buzzing from your damper, you can place a thin layer of piano felt over the existing felt belt and see how that works. If you can't find good soft felt, you can get regular felt (about 1/16th inch thick) and cut it over size. Wash that felt on delicate and then dry it in the dryer. This will soften the felt and make it pucker. Works great. Then place that over your existing felt. This can be very helpful. From this day on, follow rule number 1.

I hope I didn't piss anyone off…. Just my opinions and I've spent a lot of time learning it. It all works and if it doesn't work for you… shoot me a message or email and we'll figure out something.

drslg Sat, 01/01/2011 - 13:37

In reply to by Piper

You said that the nuts on the 60's vibes can be used to make it level. Think again. Not only does it do that, it also equals out the springs pressure. If you raise one side, that side will have more pressure and stop ringing. if you raise them both just right, the ringing stops completely. The spring is on the left side, along with the motor. The dampener is made of wood and has nice felt. In other words, the ability to level out the pedal will give you the ability to stop the ringing. Sorry, but 60's technology beats your nicos pad. All that i had to do was turn 2 nuts to the right position and bam! no more ringing.

The 60's rule
not to be a jerk or anything.

JasonD Sun, 01/02/2011 - 21:40

I think this is a good moment to mention the new ideas that Leigh Stevens has incorporated into his Love Vibe. (I feel like I am always promoting this, but I truly was blown away by the amount of R&D put into his instrument). The "harp" (as he calls it, aka the keybed), is adjustable on all four corners to compensate for large alignment imperfections with the damper. As well as this, the damper bar is adjustable at four points to help compensate for any misalignment. Not to mention the damper pad is pretty cool too.


Piper Mon, 01/03/2011 - 06:24

In reply to by JasonD

I wish I could play this instrument in person. It looks extremely interesting and Leigh thinks things through... always with the the finer details of music at the top of the objectives. Without seeing it or playing it, I'll bet there are some great features.

tonymiceli Mon, 01/03/2011 - 09:55

In reply to by Piper

I guess this is why musser picked their bar size. Am I right? because any wider they'd have to put more adjustments on it for dampening? You have to admit the musser system is simple and does an decent job! right now it's the workhorse of the vibe world, right?

I played the love vibe and it dampened beautifully.

The vanderPlas also has 4 or 8 (Nico HELP) adjustments for dampening. I'm glad there's some really great competitive innovation out there. We do the 2011 workshop again in a month and playing the vander Plas Baelio instruments is incredible, The dampening and response is unbelievable. It's unbelievable how good dampening can affect your playing! And how much better your friedman etudes sound!!!! LOL

The thing that concerns me as a pro when i see all this innovation is the fact that these instruments are not designed for moving around. they're designed for colleges and maybe high schools. i know the manufactures say that their instruments are portable, and they are for the simple reason that they come apart. but pros need real portability. This is why gary designed the m-48, he designed it for HIM, so he could get around with it.

For me a great dampening system on an instrument that I can't get around with, is great but then I need one I can get around with then also.

I'm excited that nico says has developed a portable instrument that has all these features. Portability and light weight. When I hear that I get very excited, because now I can have that quality every where I go. I am hoping that this inspires vibe makers to really put portability and ease of setting up and tearing down in their R&D. Nico does this now because of all of you guys, he heard us talking about this and wants to design an instrument that fits this niche. In a few weeks we'll have pictures and more. This is a great beginning and I think this has the ability to change the vibe world and really set a new phase in motion.

nico Mon, 01/03/2011 - 11:24

In reply to by tonymiceli

Indeed we use 8 spots to raise or lower the rails and as such adjust the damperbar to the best position. I believe that, for the best dampening of the bars, you need to be able to adjust all 4 rails. But there is more with dampening than just what is discussed here. BTW, it is good to see that Leigh understood the advantages of the silicone and uses it on his model too.

As a manufacturer I understand your concerns regarding portability. Problem always is that with portability comes in the issues: split damperbar, split rails, split crossbar. This all gives problems.


IndianaGlen Mon, 01/03/2011 - 12:56

I've also been able to check out the love vibe.

For those of you who haven’t seen it, I’ll add a few comments. Let me divide this into two parts the Damper bar and the Wave Dampening. They do work together, but really they can be thought of as separate systems.

First the Damper Bar, which is the similar one we all know and love, although in my opinion is significantly better, than the Mussers. I’ll call this the “Traditional” damper. At the risk of getting geeky, one major issue is that the damper bar moves in a circle (angular rotation). So it has to be “Bent” just right so that the felt hits the naturals at the same time as the accidentals. What Leigh did was make the damper arms longer and more sturdy, so this angle doesn’t change as much, which is a good thing. It helps in damping the accidentals and naturals more evenly. Let’s move on to the ‘felt’.

The felt isn’t flat, it has two humps toward the outside like stretched out “m” so it hits the bars not exactly at the middle, and it’s THICK. Traditional Dampening is amazing.

The “Wave” is basically a slider that covers and opens the top of the tubes. Picture a really thin flat piece of wood on top of your resonators, and pull it away to get the idea of how it works. There’s a cable that hooks into part of the “traditional” damper pedal so as you push the pedal the cable moves also and basically opens the tubes so that’s the wah wah/ wave sound. The cable that pulls the slider (and looks to be adjustable) opens when you push the damper a little harder. So you can get a quiet sustain and then a really cool swell as you push down harder/further. With some practice, one could get some really sexy sounding ballads were you could do tremolo (vibrato) in time to the music, or not depending on what sound you wanted.

There are more moving parts and Tony brings up an important point. Although it is solid, there are cables, pulleys and adjustments that may be a hassle to both set up take down and maintain. But for some the different possibilities may be worth it. It also felt heavy when I tried to lift one side, but again, rock solid.

Also, this vibe doesn’t have the butterfly/motor set up, so if you want the traditional constant tremolo, you are out of luck.

Bottom line, the “Traditional” damper is awesome, the wave resonator damper is cool, but not enough for me to sell my one of Mussers to get one.

tpvibes Thu, 01/06/2011 - 22:00

In reply to by drslg

Nico's pad is a tube with a thin felt cover that's filled with silicone gel. The gel core absorbs mallet impact (while the damper's up) and prevents it from being transferred to the frame and rattling anything that's loose. Also, the gel can prevent buzzing as the bars come in contact with the damper since it's a softer, more conforming surface.

You can order it from Fall Creek Marimbas -- They're in Rochester, NY area. You might have to supply measurements from your vibe -- they probably don't have a standard fit.

It's a fair amount of work to put on (well, actually the work is in taking off the old pad; you need to get ALL of the glue off), but I found it worthwhile for my M55.

Tom P.

wannavibe Wed, 08/06/2014 - 20:46

I am a starting vibraphonist and picked up an inexpensive Jenco to start out on. The felt was more off than on, and had deep impressions of the bars in it.
I removed it completely and put it on the floor. Then with a steam iron I steamed it for about 5 minutes. The felt is almost like new!
That, and restringing with new parachute cord really cut down the buzzing considerably.

My restringing trick: The Jenco's strings pass through screw eyes. After having threaded the top bars, eyes, & felt washers one at a time, I dreaded the doing the naturals. Then I had a brain storm... I cut the strings in the middle of the end opposite the springs, melted each old string to the new one with a lighter, and making sure the joint was smooth by rolling the HOT joint through my fingers, pulled it through all the bars in about 2 seconds!

Maybe that's a well known trick, but I thought I'd share my "discovery".