Musser M235 Mallets

Hello to all the users here at Vibesworkshop. This is my first post here and I´m a bit ashamed to say that I´m asking for help instead of offering sage advice on all things VIBES. I have a bit of a problem with my mallets. I use an older pair of Good Vibes M 235 Medium Hard Mallets (the old Gary Burton signature model)which I love and give me a great tone and response from my vibraphone. The beaters are ragged and dirty but still completely intact, but the handles are twisted and bent and under normal use maybe don´t have so much time left. So, I finally broke down and dished out the $120 for a new pair, and when I tried them out they were completley different than my old 235´s. They are harder and give a much pingier sound; they are quite similar to the Vic Firth M25´s. Distressed, I tested them against two other pairs of M 235´s (one newish and another oldish), and all the other mallets were similar to my old Mussers. I´m not sure if Musser has changed the rubber that they use or if they used the wrong balls by mistake, but they are definitely different. I called the place where I bought them and they are happy to exchange them, but my problem is this: I live in Argentina and because we don´t have Musser (or other brands of mallets) here it is impossible to try out different makes and models. It is also very difficult to get them here (Basically, I have to wait until someone I know comes here and can bring them along for the ride). What I´m asking of you, all my fine compañeros from Vibesworkshop, is for any advice on what Make and Model might be most similar to my old Good Vibes or if anyone has had a similar experience and was able to solve the problem. I saw on Musser´s website that they have two models which are Medium Soft, one is with pink yarn and the other is the Jerry Tachoir Model. Someone here told me the pink ones have a shorter handle, anyone know if this is true? Well, thanks in advance for any advice you guys can give me and sorry to be so long winded

Hi,
I too have a great set of those old Musser Good Vibes Burton signature mallets. I've always loved the sound and the slightly heavier weight at the head.

A number of years ago Gary agreed to have Vic Firth make a new Burton signature mallet. The resulting product looked and sounded great. The rattan was superb and the sound was (to my ear at least) virtually indistinguishable from the original Good Vibes mallets that Gary used most, if not all the time. Unfortunately, the wrapping that was used wore out very quickly. But recently Vic Firth has switched to a much more durable yarn. The sound seems slightly softer than their first attempts, but they tend to pack down a bit after several months of use. I love those mallets. They have become my primary choice.

The original Good Vibes mallets were manufactured by an interesting fellow named Bill Marimba, if my memory serves. They came out in the early to mid 1970s and I still have 2 sets of those too.

I now mostly use the Vic Firth model of the Burton Signature.

The mallets are sold at many stores and can be ordered on the internet or by phone. I'm sure those stores ship world wide. I'm pretty sure "Lone Star Percussion" carries them, and possibly "Steve Weiss Music". Both stores have websites.

Good Luck
Ted.

Thanks a lot Ted for the advice!!! I actually have a set of the Vic Firth Gary Burton M25s. They are quite a bit harder than the M235s that I have and have a bigger head. They´re great Mallets, but they have a quite different character than the Good Vibes. If I adjust my technique a bit I can get a similar warm sound from the instrument, but....Maybe I need to be more flexible.

I will also mention that Mike Balter is great at recreating mallets.

Don't feel ashamed! Your question is welcome. And in fact, answers you got might help others!
I hope you'll get satisfactory mallets soon! Keep us posted!
- Marie

I spent part of my 15th summer working at Good Vibes Malletworks for Bill Marimba. It was a raw vegan commune in Garrett Park, Maryland, and I took the Amtrak up from Florida. One of my tasks was check the hardness of the rubber cores with a durometer to insure consistency. It's doubtful Musser has that level of quality control. I also drilled holes in the rubber heads, trimmed rattan, embossed the logo on the handles, and sanded and painted the ends. Bill did all the winding and stitching; it was an artisanal operation and we could never keep up with demand. Gary Burton, Karl Berger, Bobby Hutcherson all used them and had models named after them. I've still got a set of the Burton model.

It was one of the most fascinating and meaningful summers I ever spent, just being on my own, thumbing into DC (Bill was only 18 and didn't drive) to see the Smithsonian, National Zoo, and all the other taxpayer-funded stuff. I still regale people with war stories about it, like participating in the Yippies' annual Impeach Nixon March and Smoke-In and going to my first bar, Lord Telford's Pub. Bill had a Norwalk juicer and bought carrots by the 50# bag. We subsisted mostly on mung bean sprouts and popcorn festooned with kelp powder. Bill advertised that the mallets were "made by vegetarian hands," so we had to sneak off for pizza or other more substantial fare. We lived in an old broken down house by the railroad tracks with an outhouse. And it was a union shop--I joined The Industrial Workers of the World and became a Wobbly! I've still got my commie red membership book with a single dues stamp pasted in it. Workers of the World, Unite! What a flashback...

that is quite a story!

I heard a bunch of years back that the old mallets used 100% nylon yarn. It was very durable and worked great for mallets, but it was highly flammable. That's why those old Burton mallets were/are special. Mallets on fire is one thing, having your Christmas jammies light up is another. I'm guessing there's better nonflammable yarns available these days vs. 20 years ago.

I have tried a recent set of Gary's Mallets and I think they are just a tiny bit softer than the goodvibes, but they are in the ballpark soundwise of the originals.