M55 frame noise

Hey folks,

I'm currently experiencing a pretty significant issue with frame noise on my M55. Even though the instrument was used before I bought it there were only cosmetic issues and nothing that I saw regarding the integrity of the frame.

The noise is coming from under the Gb, Ab and Bb in the middle of the instrument. Whenever I release the pedal I hear what I thought was metal on metal vibrating. After I made sure that there no loose parts rattling around the noise was still happening. The only thing I could think of that is making that noise is the felt on the bars; the felt appears fairly new and I'm not sure if that could be making the noise or not.

Am I crazy to think that the felt on the damper pad could be dampening the bars incorrectly? Does it sound like I'm missing something? I hope to hear back from you guys soon; I'm tired of my instrument sounding like someone is sharpening knives instead of a chorus of angels!


i´m pretty sure it´s the felt as you said.it makes a buzzing sound if you dampen very light or slow. i had this too.i bought the vanderplas silicon damper by nico and beside that this problem was solved the dampnening was much more improved. at the moment he´s selling one cheaper than normal as far as i know.


Thanks Tarik! I'll look into it.

The thing is that the noise isn't just happening when I dampen lightly or slowly. It's just every time that I dampen the instrument it makes noise.

If I just need to break in the felt then that's what I gotta do I guess.

That said...

If it is not the spring, there is one other area of the damper that tends to make noise on older instruments which I didn't mention because it sounds like yours is newer and, typically, this problem is more pronounced with the notes at the ends of the axe, not in the middle...

The hinges at the end of the damper. If you tap on the bar going into the hinge and it clicks, that could be getting worn and loose and will make noise if you hit the bars with the damper up because the energy gets transferred there.

The solution for that one: Plumbers teflon tape. Remove the damper from the hinge, wrap the little pin part with a few layers of teflon tape and put it back in. That will simultaneously tighten and lubricate the hinge.

A few things I would check...

1. Prime violator... the spring and nuts that control the tension on the damper bar. Tightening can resolve this. Strategic placement of felt washers can help as well.

2. The cross beams and/or (if it's old like mine) the diagonal braces that are like the ones on a coffee table. Strategically placed duct tape cures this.

3. The lid of the belt mechanism. A few strategically placed pieces of moleskin stop this.

4. The casters. New casters fixes this. On my instrument, I play up on blocks, so moving the blocks outwards to a tight position helps.

5. ...only if you don't move the instrument very often... I had this happen at home and it was killing me until I moved it and the crap fell out... debris in the resonator.

given where you are experiencing it, I would definitely go with #1 (above). Especially if it only really rattles with the pedal up.

It really helps me to get somebody else to play it so I can hear sounds while under the instrument and more correctly locate their source. I have done this several times when my instrument sprung a new rattle on me as I arrived in a studio.

Good luck.

Hi Randy, and anyone else who may read this...

...this is a very good condition 1976 vintage instrument that is making what I think are the typical noises during pedaling. For the most part, it hasn't had anything done to it at any time (other than me putting a little teflon tape on the hook), so it's pretty much a virgin as far as repairs or upgrades are concerned.

What I would love if anyone is willing, is to have someone help diagnose this for me so I don't have to spend a bunch of time trying to figure it out. Maybe a facetime call or something along those lines. I should know more about the instrument than I do, which is part of the problem...

Otherwise, I'll go through some of the posts and start pulling some things apart.

I know it'll only get worse as I start moving the instrument around...

I'd be very willing to pay someone also, for their time and expertise in resolving this as much as is possible.

Please start by posting a recording of the sound describing when and how it happens. We’ll get to the bottom of this. :)

Hi Randi,

I recorded a little more than a minute of playing around on it. The "noisyness" of it - the various different noises come and go a bit but is pretty much always there.

Here is the link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZK2s1S4kz3E

I've been a bit reticent to start pulling things apart until I had (hopefully) a better sense of what I was looking for and hopefully trying to improve.

This instrument hasn't been played very much at all in it's lifetime and is untouched condition, and of course over the last couple of months, I've probably played it more than it's ever been played, so noises seem to be coming alive inside the thing. If you know what I mean.

Any tips or suggestions, much appreciated!

The lesser of the two is what you refer to as "the common sound the instrument makes when the pedal is up". I am pretty sure from what I am hearing that it is coming from the braces that are like the ones from a card table that hold the legs in position before you put the cross bar on. There are little springs on those that will loosen up in time and act like the gourds on a balafon. Quick and dirty fix is duct tape or wrap them in a face cloth before the gig (I do that at recording sessions).

The greater of the two sounds is the one that happens with the pedal even when you are not playing. To properly isolate that, I would say that you would have to have somebody under the axe while working the pedal. However, there is a characteristic sound of an old spring reverb unit, so I would certainly suspect it is the spring/s (there are two) on the pedal mechanism making that noise.

The first is the small one at the top of the connecting rod that is part of how you connect or disconnect it from the damper bar. I would make sure it is properly lubricated and moves freely without squeaking, but honestly, I don't think what I am hearing is that spring.

The second spring is the likely culprit. I am pretty sure that what you have here is either a missing wing nut, missing washer, missing felt washer or all three are missing. Gravity is the enemy here. The felt washer prevents the mechanism from being noisy, the washer under it adjusts the maximum top height of the damper bar and the wingnut acts as a lockwasher to the whole thing. If the wing nut gets loose while playing, it will fall on the floor, next will be the washer and, soon thereafter, the felt washer. Once that happens the spring will be all loosey-goosey and the bolt coming down from the damper bar will be free to vibrate against it or the frame. That's the kind of sound I am hearing.

I'll make a separate post with a photo of what it should look like on an M55 from 1977, which should be similar.

Someone should host a show like Car Talk for Vibraphones!

"So I've got this 1977 Musser Provibe that has been acting up lately. I take it for a spin every morning and there is a clicking noise, but only when I play the low A with the pedal engaged..."

Will you host it? You'd be perfect! :)

Thats a great help Randi. Thank you very much.

I was thinking as I was reading that a picture might be worth a thousand words - what it's supposed to have/look like vs. what it might now look like/have. And sure enough, you mentioned it.

I'll hang loose and wait for that and in the interim, will again thank you for being you and being so gracious to offer to help.