Light model for traveling

Dear everybody,

First of all, thank you all for contributing to this wonderful site! I´m new here, looking forward for exchange experiences and inspiration in the years to come.

My question for you today is the following:
I´m looking for a very light vibraphone for traveling, also by plane. At the moment, I have a musser M-48, and although I love it´s sound, I spend too much time mounting and unmounting it, and after every gig, I´m exsausted, not from the playing, but from carrying. If I want to take it on a plane, I´d have to pay so much overweight, not to mention the carrying..

So, do any of you have a suggestions on an acoustic Vibraphone with motor, that´s light enought to bring on a plane without paying too much overweight? It also has to be easy to mount/unmount. I guess there aren´t any real good alternatives to this, and that I might have to do some serious compromizes, concerning for instance the sound.

Some of the old Deagans look light, and I guess I´ll love their sound, but I fear they wouldn´t make on the hard touring road..

Thank you for checking in, I do apprechiate any answers.

All the best to you all,

Karl Ivar Refseth (Berlin)

if you had pickups on the bars you wouldn't have to bring the resonators.

wow you want it to pack up small and not be a lot of pieces? that's just not fair!! :-)

an m48 without the motor is even lighter huh?

i don't know about the yamaha. that really breaks down well? like the m48?

again, (i'll say it a million times) who ever beats the m55 and m48 will have a winner here. the way to sell instruments is to get the pros playing them. (i'm hoping nico will read this).

i like the no bells and whistles especially for moving around!

also, i just don't dig the yamaha pedals. i struggle with them, they move and change height at least on the ones i've played.


The reason that Yamaha pedal moved and changed height on you is that someone assembled it backwards! Just like I was talking about - this is what happens when the pedal goes together wrong. Really dumb. Assembly should be foolproof!

Pickups won't replace resonators for me. Although, I will say that I went to see Joe Locke at Dizzy's a few months ago, and his VPB pickups sounded great - very natural! But for me, a vibe is not a vibe without resonators. It's like a piano without a soundboard...thats a harp!

My desire for an enclosed center section would mean that is a pretty large section. But if it isn't too heavy, that's cool. Worth it for all that messy stuff to be hidden. For me the key is LIGHT WEIGHT and SIMPLE ASSEMBLY. As long as the sections all can fit into an average sedan, I think size can be a compromise. Also, if each bag can stay smaller than a set of golf clubs or a pair of skis, air travel is not unreasonable.

it's plain simple Steve.
What you want is not possible in this decade. Not in price and not in configuration.
The development of the carbonVibe has costed us roughly 35000 euros, and not taking the patent costs in. Such a simple instrument you're describing would go for at least a minimum of 10k in euros, if not more. You're describing an extreme difficult model, so my guess is that it would be even fair to say that a more realistic price would be round 16k in euros.

There is only a relative small number of vibists who would travel the way you do, and of those small number of vibists only a fraction would be able to afford such an instrument. Too bad is that the market who needs this kind of model the most, is also the market that suffers with badly paid gigs.
BTW, talking with several jazz vibists, the majority preferred a one-piece keybed ISO the traveller models like the M48 and YV3710. This is one of the reasons we have choosen for the current design. At this moment we're doing one traveller model as a custom project, but at extreme costs (way more the customer is paying for ;-) ). Considering the investment we've done with the carbonVibe, it is unlikely that we are going to get this traveller model into our product line the upcoming years. Ofcourse we're always there for custom ordering, but at prices way higher than $4500.

With the carbonVibe we're aiming for widening the market for vibes. At this moment the market (in terms of music) is either the classical percusionist and the jazz-vibist. We wanted to make a vibe that modernizes the instrument making it more attractive for new type of musician, same as what happened decades ago with the electric guitar and the digital piano.
Doing this all and keep the weight reasonable, the only way to get it done was using the carbon fiber. But even that material has it's limits. Forget all the stories that they're able to make carbon fiber bikes, so you can use the material for vibes too. Not true.
Forces in a bike are completely differend from those in a vibe. Carbon fiber is extreme strong lengthwise, but vulnarable sidewise. Forces on the vibe are 90 degrees differend from those on a bike.

BTW, the electric Yamaha marimba Norbert is talking about was a Yamaha custom instrument with a price of over 30k euros. A design I love!!!


Nico, since we both own and play Hammond organs, I've never really figured out why vibes players just don't do what organ players do - which is to buy a van and just leave the instrument assembled. Now of course I realize that this is problematic (if not impossible) in New York City and other comparable cities where subways and taxis are the preferred mode of transport, but I would tend to think that it's simply more cost-effective to invest that extra expense into a vehicle. When I was playing a lot, I think I broke down my Provibe once or twice over the course of 10 years when I encountered steps, and all I needed to move the instrument assembled was a set of Piper M-Braces. Regarding New York, I feel your pain but the vast majority of vibes players out there will never live in New York so I think a valid point is made that a manufacturer not only has to look at the potential market, but in this case drastically restrict that market to a few cities where the benefit to the customer would even be worth the extra investment.

I'm not denigrating Steve's points at all as a New Yorker, but rather just saying that I feel that Nico has provided a reality check as to the overall practicality to 99% of the potential market.


You got my point.
It's a joy travelling with a vibe, when you're used to transporting a hammond with leslie ;-)



I'm sure you are right about everything. You are definitely the man... and the care and dedication you put into the Carbonvibe and all your instruments is obvious. I still do look forward to checking out all the innovations you have made. I am also quite aware that what drives the market for vibe manufacturing are schools and universities and marching bands, not jazz artists. But I am pretty surprised that a majority of pro players you interviewed wanted to keep the keybed whole. I know Gary, who has logged more miles than anyone, favors his M48. I used to have an M55, and I remember gigs where my arms felt like spaghetti and I could barely play after loading and setting up. I had a softbag with a shoulder strap, too. But I still have back problems to this day that I attribute to hauling that thing around. If the keybed does not break smaller, your transportation options get very limited. You can't get it in a cab or probably on an airplane (even tho I have never cabbed with a vibe, I always had a car). Hauling a fullsize keybed is something I'll never do again, it is a total deal-breaker. Even though the YV3710 can be a drag to set-up, I vastly prefer the design (by the way, Tyler, the Yamaha does not feel at all flimsy or cheap).

John is totally right that the way to go is to keep the instrument whole and have a very large vehicle. But then there are those issues with stairs.... And I absolutely do not wanna drive a van (or even have to borrow my wife's SUV) because I play the vibes - I make enough sacrifices for this blasted instrument!

In this age, we have electric cars and iPads and earthquake resistant skyscrapers. Somebody's gotta be able to make a vibe that sounds good, is very lightweight, and sets-up fast... AND can sell!

i dig the m55 for travelling around the city. steve you need a rock and roller. (you have one?)

and thanks to gary for the m48. he did it for us!

i think that someone is going to make a better lighter affordable/portable instrument (i hope it's nico). i believe then the pros will be talking about this instrument and excited and that will lead to sales. i think nico just needs to get some bread back for his R&D and then he'll filer things down and come up with something.

i know i sell instruments, people ask me all the time for my opinion, and i'm sure it's the same with all the pros on here. every student i meet says the same thing. what instrument do you play and what sticks do you like.

i know i've sold a few mussers because i had it on the gig. and now a days with internet video, i would REALLY think companies would want their logos and instruments in the hands of the pros. you can play a gig now and someone vids it on their little cam, puts it on the site and then there are 10,000 hits. that counts and that is branding an instrument. this is what all big companies do. it means a lot to coke to have their logo on a sports game or concert.

yeah yeah yeah, the vibe world is small, but those principals still apply, just not in the millions! there are two ways to sell instruments it seems like these days.

1. colleges are show rooms for instruments. the students are playing on them.

(but when they ask a pro, which they usually do, the pro talks about things like portability.)

2. what pros play on. what they choose for their clinics and what they record with. what's visible. if i walk into a room (let alone someone like burton or mainieri) and there are several instruments there, and i pick one to play. every student has taken note of that, and that weighs heavily on them.

back to colleges, students do have to move instruments around. so sooner or later they will discuss portability.

this is a good discussion and i'm glad we have nico's attention. i'm sure there are a few other manufacturers on here as well.

I wish I could agree, but it just doesn't fly in today's world.

The problem with the argument that prospective customers would buy what the pros play doesn't fly because the vibraphone pros only play jazz. There are no celebrity rock, pop, classical, or hip-hop vibes players, and the very few that have crossed over to pop are basically jazz guys moonlighting. The public has voted on jazz (NARAS just eliminated two jazz catagories from the Grammys), so when you combine the extremely limited exposure of jazz to a potential market combined with the perception that vibes is a "jazz instrument" - well, it ain't the 1960s anymore.

I think the future of gigging mallet instruments is going to be in sampler technology, and I say that based on the direction I see in both music and music technology.

Amazing to see how many are chiming in on this discussion. I think every vibes players has searched for the ideal traveling instrument. Hats off to Nico for devoting himself to the task of building a better vibraphone. I agree with Tony on an earlier post, the way to sell a new set of vibes is to get them out there to the players. It's hard to ask a beginning player to buy an instrument which they cant see or play on because none exist in their area. I'm eager to see one of Nico's instruments, they look amazing. But I'm a player who has lived in either New York, Los Angeles, or San Francisco for the last ten years and have never come across one to play on. Thats a big reason why Musser is still the most popular, there all over the place and you know what you're getting even if they dont have one down at your local music store.

My uncle who restores vintage Porsche race cars for a living actually built a frame for my vibes, completely out of aluminum using the existing rails, bars and resonators. He encountered a lot of the issues I'm sure Nico has been dealing with for years. It came out great, its sturdy, all packs up and is very light. However, its still very large. Also, the resonators and bars make up a considerable amount of weight, so even if you get the frame very light, you still have that to contend with. The whole discussion about the cost of manufacturing things, I completely agree with Nico on. Granted, my uncle is not a vibraphone manufaturer (though he is a really brilliant craftsman) he told me that he would never built another vibes frame if someone paid him to because it took a lot of time, work, and money to develop the prototype. Plus, if Nico spends years developing the best vibraphone, he deserves to clear some profit like anyone else...

I've traveled in Asia and gotten into tiny cabs with a m-48. Its a pain in the ass to set up, but it is the easiest to travel with because you can fit it all into a couple suitcases. My 2 cents; I think a higher end version of a similar design would be worthwhile. The M-48 just seems a little cheap and flimsy to me.

Lastly, I also agree with whats been said about the narrow bar instruments. Yes, its nice to have a smaller keybed to move, but... if you play four mallets and comp as I do, the narrow bar vibes just dont seem to cut it. There isn't enough of the low end meatiness in the bottom octave for comping...for me at least.


How cool Tyler!! Is your vibes finished? Could we see it? Man that would be really great! Wouldn't you like to make a post with pictures? Wow!
- M

I can't believe how many posts there are on this topic! I'm not saying things can't be improved, but I have an M55 and a car, and relatively few problems. I play in NYC and Philly all the time. I'm not saying there's not pain in the ass situations, but all things considered, I can literally double park, unpack, garge my car, set up, and be done everything in 30 minutes. I don't think that's too bad, it's a damn vibraphone, they're huge!!! I'm kind of kidding too though, believe me, I hope they make an inflatable vibraphone, but let's face it, there is NO easy way!!! You either need to spend alot of money on a car or cab rides in order to gig on this instrument in my opinion, bottom line, no easy way.