M46 vs. M55 vs.?

Hi, new guy to the forum here. I'm looking to get a set of vibes. I've been playing kit drums for 40 years and bought a MalletKat a few years back. As nice as the MalletKat is, I also like the immediacy and subtlety of acoustic instruments so I figured why not? After searching around (including this site) I've come up with some questions regarding what to get. I don't live near a large city so I can't audition instruments directly and used instruments are pretty much out of the picture (I don't know enough about them to trust my judgement anyway).

I see a lot of love for the M55 but that's a little out of my price range. I have also heard from different sources that the frame is not that great. The M46 is within my price range if I get it w/o motor. Does it use the same bars? The frame appears to be similar on the pics I have seen. Is the frame issue something that has been fixed on recent models? On the other hand, I found the Adams Concert Series is about the same price as the M46 but includes a motor and has what appears to be a very solid frame. What's a guy to do?

Mostly, this will be played in my home studio. I gave up gigging a long time ago but I might need to transport it from time to time. Being based in the USA it also seems I will have to special order a 440 tuning from what I've read here.

Thanks for any info.

The frame on the M55 is every bit as solid as the frame on the M46. The (M48 traveler vibe that's a different story it's more temperamental) True narrow bar vibes are cheaper, but very few pros and/or serious players play on a narrow bar ax. (There are some who do though) I guess it just depends on what you want to do. In my opinion, if you are doing mostly two mallet stuff and want to noodle and maybe record in your studio a narrow bar will work fine. In an acoustic setting with other instruments the low notes on a narrow vibe bars just don't have the volume especially un mic'd.

I have no direct experience, but I have heard of intonation and build quality issues regarding Adams vibes. Do a search on the site A=440 is the way to go in the US. --Although the Musser build quality isn't stellar either.

I was under the impression that the new M46 vibes have the same bars as the M55 (i.e. graduated).

Thanks for all of the replies.

Interestingly, I went to order an M46 and was told that Musser is discontinuing it!

There's that, and the multi-month to "we have no idea when" wait for a 440 Hz tuning from ANY manufacturer. Apparently, some (like Majestic) don't even offer the option any more.

If you didn't want to wait for musser to get you 440 or you purchase a used vibes with 442, Fall Creek Marimba does AMAZING tuning work for a very solid price! http://www.marimbas.com/

If you buy a 442 axe...

not only does Bill at Fall Creek do excellent work, but the last time I was up in his shop, he had a vintage Century in there with those beautiful sounding bars. If he hasn't worked on it yet, I would ask him what his price would be to tune the bars to 440 and sell it to you as is (no work on the frame or motor). If you buy a 442 axe from somebody else, you would then have two sets of bars and one would be flat-out awesome at 440. The frame (if you don't like motor anyway) would probably be something you could use at home for practice with a little TLC. ...or if you have the cash, you could let him restore that for you. I have one from 1949 that he did and it is BEAUTIFUL.

Bill does very nice work.

442 bars are handy, especially in the summer time when pianos go sharp.

The bars on the M46 are graduated just like the M55 and M48. The main difference appears to be that the front resonator is cut like the back resonator, making it a bit lighter and I suppose less visually attractive from the front. The sound capability of the resonator is the same in either case. So, you could definitely feel confident choosing the M-46 instead of the M-55. I've never actually seen an M-46 in person or played one, but just looking at the photographs and description on Musser's site, it's easy to see how it's designed. Concerned about the frame reliability are probably not an issue for you. The main issue with Musser frames is that if you move them around a lot, they gradually become wobbly from wear and tear. But, if the instruments stays in your studio primarily, you'll never reach that worn out stage. Sound-wise, nothing beats a Musser keyboard, in my opinion. I've tried them all at one time or another The Adams is well constructed, but the bars are not nearly as full-sounding as the Musser. The Yamaha comes closest to Musser in sound quality, but is generally more expensive. Whatever you ultimately decide, welcome to the mallet club!

I was thinking the older version of the m-46 perhaps, not the current new versions. My apologies, thank you gentlemen for chiming in, (no pun intended).

not checking all the other posts out sorry! i'll just rattle off.
the 46 is great. it's in a way a 55 without the motor. there are few things missing the bars aren't finished like the 55 bars. but imho none of that matters. the instrument sounds really good.