Malletech 'Love' vibe

Hi All- Sorry if this is a tired subject around here; I haven't been by in awhile. Just got a snail-mail percussion catalog and noticed the Malletech 'Love' Vibraphone is finally being shipped. Anyone besides Gavin and Ed Smith interacted with this thing? Here are some thoughts from reading the brochure and watching Ed play it:

Certainly I'm intrigued by the vibrato system, but I don't think I'd be thrilled to give up the ability to set the motor at a higher speed and just let it run; yes, it'd be cool to be able to apply vibrato to individual notes and chords, but is it worth it? If there was a way to do both, say, to sit fans a little lower in Malletech resonators but keep the covering plates on top, that'd be terrific.

I can tell a lot of work went into this, and the Ed Smith video on youTube begins to show what it's capable of. But I can't help but feel like this is denying the hammond B3/Wurlitzer and Rhodes Electric piano/guitar effects side of the vibraphone. Our instrument fits into (and is actually one of the forerunners of) a proud tradition of instruments used for contemporary music that have analog, even mechanical effects on board. This Malletech might be a step up for folks who think of their vibraphones like pianos or cellos and have removed their motors altogether, but I'd miss the ability to throw my motor on and create a disorienting, pulsing save of sound with it. (I suppose I could keep in mind that it's not eliminating my existing vibraphones, but the point is, were I to take this on a gig, I couldn't also have a vibraphone with a motor.)

What I'd love is if someone sold a kit to adapt Mussers the way Matt Moran has; running a cord from the motor into a volume pedal that allows one to control the speed of the motor (from off to FAST) with the left foot, a la Hammond organ, but with even more control. (I suppose I could ask Matt how he did it, but being that he pioneered the idea, it only seems right that I have to do some work to copy it.)

what do you all think?

for uploading the video for this, I hadn't previously seen or heard the Malletech Vibe. It looks and sounds great. I think this is a neat and innovative idea but I wish they had called it something different! If and when I buy a new vibraphone I am going to be more tempted by the greater note range and Midi on Nico's instruments, but I'm sure this will be further refined.

me too: it's a cool thing, and if I had a giant studio where I could have multiple instruments set up and record them, this'd be a welcome addition, but I can't imagine investing >$7000 in this experiment at the moment.

The name is kind of hilarious; part of me likes that this is obviously a product a few people working very hard, and they're not trying to put a stuffy or slick corporate presentation to it, but another part feels like all the stuff in the brochures about 'making love to a single note' and such sound like something out of the ads in the back of the Village Voice.

I played the love vibe. It's a great instrument so don't underestimate it. It's another way to work the vibrato. I'm someone who doesn't use the motor that often so I could see a benefit here.

I'm endorsed as everyone knows by vanderPlas. My only criticism is the same one that I talk about with nico. Portability. We need instruments that quickly pack up. Nico says and I understand, there are not enough pros. I always say the same thing. It doesn't matter, students come out to hear pros and they see us playing a certain instrument and I think they tend to buy that one. Which is probably why mussers are such a popular instrument.

I think there is a buzz in the vibe world right now and there are some great instrument makers. I think they are honing in on the vibraphone, so I think let them do there thing. These instruments will at least get attention and hopefully draw more young musicians our way and that's a good thing.

It's interesting that everyones competition in a way is Musser, right? And they haven't changed there model in years. Both the m55 and the m48 are totally portable instruments. More so than any other instrument. But I think these great Instrument innovators are heading our way and more will be coming.

Ed should chime in here as well. He's a great player and has definitely mastered the dampening system on the love vibe.

Tony, thank you for your very kind words. I would hardly say I've "mastered the dampening system", but I'm getting more comfortable
after having a Love vibe (there...I said it :) ) for 15 months. The analog interface I find to be very user friendly, but to do it justice one needs
to spend some time with the dual action dampening/vibrato pedal. I, like Tony, hardly ever used the motor on my old Musser ( I drank Gary Burton's Kool-Aid a long time ago), but to have the ability to control it from your foot has been amazing and now I love (damn, there's that word again) exploring the new possibilities. Its just not vibrato either. I use it like a volume pedal just as much for chord swells like a guitar player. Very effective it is. I still play many tunes without using the vibrato, but when I want it all I have to do is to press the dampening pedal another 1/4-1/2 inch and voilà, vibrato at any speed your foot can produce.

Another big part of the innovative sound of the vibe is what Leigh calls progressive wave dampening. His dampening bar is extra wide and has
a silicon gel wrapped with felt and the outer edges rise slightly toward the nodal points of the bars. Because of this I can control the rate of the bars' decay. I find this to be just as cool as the vibrato. I'm paying a lot more attention to how I end the sound of my phrases and such. I can produce diminuendo of chords and lines by how gradually I let up the dampening bar. In my clinics and performances I play Bach's Adaigo in G minor for solo violin to show the new possibilities of this technique. I'm not trying to be a violin by tapering the end of duration, but because of this I'm taking a more relaxed walk though Bach's masterpiece. I feel this new ability helps makes the vibes more expressive.

The set-up does take a little more time, but not much more. Its about 25 minutes from taking the first piece out of my car till I can play a note on a completely set up instrument.

James, one reason the malletech vibe has such a strong vibrato effect is because the resonators don't have little U's cut out to allow the rod holding the little fans to run up and down the resonators. So you won't see the dual action of motor driven and foot controlled vibrato you were thinking about.

Malletech just premiered their new website this past Friday and they posted a video of one of my new compositions for the vibe (just an excerpt as I need to hold something back for my upcoming CD). I will post it here soon.

Just to add to what Ed said, I would like to give my impressions. I have gotten to play on the Love Vibe a couple of times (Ed was/is my teacher after all) and I noticed a few things. One thing that isn't being mentioned much is that the bars sound great. They really are very nice bars, and the tunable resonators make a huge difference.

On top of that, I noticed that it did not take very long before I started having new musical ideas while playing it. Ideas I had never had crept up because new things we possible. The pedal system is rather intuitive as well. It really didn't take too long to understand it (mastering it is a different story, of course).

Those are my two cents in addition to everything above. All in all, I think it's a great instrument and have enjoyed every chance I've had to play on it.

Just caught your second video with the Love vibe, and I have to admit I'm increasingly intrigued, if not increasingly able to purchase one. The effects you're getting are really cool, but more than that, I just really like your harmonic sensibility and approach to the instrument, Ed. Very modern and smart without being cold or calculated. BEautiful! Glad to e-meet you.


Really appreciate your kind words. Nice to e-meet you too!

FYI, here is a brochure I got from Gavin Mc Graw's blog. You might find the pictures interesting:

NB: Always respect your sources: I found this link thanks to Gavin's nice post on I'll let him know about it. But I already paste/copy this message that I know is import for him to mention:

I am not affiliated with Malletech in any way, nor am I compensated in any way for writing about the Love Vibe. I've just been lucky enough to be noticed by Mr. Stevens, in no small part due to my participation here, and he solicited my opinion, so I thought you all ought to share them as well. - Gavin.