Musser M55 that have no height adjustment

Hello Vibe Community, Newbie here, first time posting- (This community is fantastic, so much great input and info!)

I'm looking at buying a vibe, and there is a Musser M55 I'm looking at, but it's from the 70's and is not height adjustable.

In searching this site, I see many with this same problem, but the standard height (about 34 inches the seller said) is not too short for me, but too tall! I'm 5'5" and I'd pretty much be playing it with my arms out, somewhat like a scare crow. That's going to hurt the shoulders after a while. I know some shorter marimba players put a big long wooden platform to stand on while they are playing, but I can't see that working for a vibe player who is using a damper pedal.

I'm guessing there really is no fix to this except to buy the new frame, which sounds expensive. Even the shortest setting on the adjustable frames on Mussers (32") is 2" higher than where I have my little student glockenspiel set. But 32" is a height that would work. Does anyone know when Musser introduced the adjustable frames?

Besides a couple models of Mussers that I'm considering, I'd also love to find a Deagan Traveller Models 580 through 583, preferably. (It's too early in the game for me to be picky about graduated bars,and I like the sound of the Deagans.)

Does anyone know how tall the Deagans stand? I'd never thought before that it might be an issue in which models to consider. Thanks! Nina

Deagan height is about 33 1/2" from floor to top of bar.

Barry

The Malletech omega is height adjustable. It can also be shortened a couple of inches when ordering from what I understand.

In addition to the model 580/583 Traveller, the model 510 is worth a look. It too is 33 1/2 inches high and is easy to knock down and set up. Ebay, among other sites, frequently has this model as well as the 580.

Good luck in your search!

I use blocks under the wheels and have always found that there was enough slack in the pedal to adjust it down to where it needs to be.

Worth a try if you like the old M55.

I also play without shoes, which helps bring me down to the keyboard a bit.

Thanks Randy-

I've searched out a thread on this site with the non-adjustable Musser M55 who have used this fix. But like you, they are too tall, but I'm too short, and the standard height on a Musser is too HIGH for me.

So reversing your solution would mean creating a big platform to stand on to bring me higher up to the keyboard... (so the damper pedal would need to be heightened at least 2 inches... wonder if this is possible?) or wear big platform shoes.. too much stress on the metatarsals!

Thanks for all your prompt comments everybody, especially about the Deagan, because I've taken a shine to that brand.

I re-set my dinky student glock-stand as high as it would go (33") which is still a half inch below the Deagan heighth.... playing it is pretty awkward at this height.

I measured where I had the glock stand naturally set up for my comfort and it was barely at 30" high. It's funny how I got so set in having that adjustment exactly where I wanted it.

Thanks, Pax, I would love a Mallet Tech Omega... but it's pretty cost-prohibitive for this baby's first vibraphone. I enjoyed looking at the videos of it on youtube though.

I'm going to re-post a version of my query under the "instrument makers" forum to try and get their feedback.... but I wanted to see if there were any "diminutive" players like me who had any quick and cheap solutions to my problem first.

Why not cut the legs a little bit ? Easy to do or to cheap to make it done...

Hi Babu,
Several risks with shortening legs:
1) the most important risk is that this is a permanent change. Any errors you make are permanent, a risk for the person doing the modification AND a risk to the resale value of the instrument.

2) As you shorten the bottom of the legs, the base of the pedal gets closer to the ground. At a certain point, the pedal becomes unusable, unless you install a new pedal that hinges directly from the bar rather than below it. This is a risk as you put smaller diameter casters on, as well, but w/the smaller casters, you can easily reverse your experiment.

3) You could try shortening from the top, but the geometry of the legs is such that you may need to move the hinges and as the legs bend toward the top, there is a risk that they will no longer fit correctly or may not run at 90 degrees to the vibe ends. The benefit of this approach is that the pedal will still have the room it needs.

That said, it is probably OK to take as much as 1 " off the bottom; this can be corrected in the future by putting on larger casters. There are many more options for larger casters than smaller ones. Remember that the powder coating will be wrecked at that point and the rivet that holds the caster friction ring in place will be destroyed, and these will need to be repaired or some other option chosen.

However, it seems prudent to make nonpermanent changes when one is experimenting to find the right height, and Nina is a beginner, so she needs to be cautious and keep her experiments reversible. And in terms of preserving the instrument for future users, if one is going to make modifications, it is not that much more work to make a shorter stand and save the unchanged legs for the instrument's future life.

Victor Mendoza is a top pro vibist who is short -- less that 5'5", I believe. It looks like he just lives with it -- see http://victormendoza.com/images/CJMendoza_JRL.gif. He bends his arms at the elbows and his forearms are almost horizontal.

At one point I heard someone say that arm angle is better. I raised my M55 up as far as it goes and gave it a try (I'm 6'0") to see if I could relieve my tendency to stoop and get backaches. My arms weren't near as bent as Victor's, but I found it extremely uncomfortable.

I'm not sure just when height adjustment was added to the M55 -- 2000 plus or minus, I believe. I got mine in 2007, if I recall correctly.

Tom P.

Hi Nina,
I'm also 5'5 and I play a Musser Pro that I bought new in 1975 and have been playing semi-pro ever since (e.g., mountains of gigs but I've never made a living wage playing vibes). I have been using it at this height since then, but you can't just go with someone else's height since leg length and torso length really differ. FYI my Musser Pro is 34" high. My newer Pro Traveller is 35.5" and that is too high for comfort for me, but 34" works.

I think that if you are choosing between a graduated bar vibe and nongraduated, regardless of maker, you should pick a graduated bar vibe. Deagans and Mussers both sound good, just different, and you seem a bit "new" to be focusing in on one brand to the point that it would obscure the more important choice of bar geometry. (Narrow bar vibes can sound great by the way, but the sound is not as big and the instrument is harder to play 4-mallets one.) If you stick with this you can always sell and buy your "perfect" instrument later. But the Musser Pro from that era was really a fine instrument.

In terms of dropping the height, you could get away with 2" caster on the Musser Pro w/out having to alter the height of the pedal, although you will need to be cautious moving it over rough surfaces (which you need to be anyway). The casters need to have a "friction grip" stem that is 7/16 diameter by at least 1.5 inches high. This will get the vibe down to 33" inch high (reg Musser Pro from that era has 3" casters). You can't judge the vibe by the layout of your orchestra bells, which have really different feel, attack, and a raised set of accidentals--it's just not going to be anything like it, so your attempt at comparing is not helping you. You can also get an anti-fatigue mat, which will raise you another .75 inches, and you're right in the ball park. This is the choice I would advise.

If you need to drop the height of the Musser lower (or Deagan), you should NOT alter the legs. If you cut them, the pedal will be too close to the ground, requiring other alterations, PLUS you will have made the instrument difficult to resell. Instead you can make your own side panel replacement legs with a cross trestle inexpensively out of poplar--or you can order a "DIY" frame Nico Vanderplas. If you have woodworking skills, it is not that hard. Really it is not. And if you don't have skills but no someone, you can work together and knock that out in a weekend. Save the old legs, of course, because they will be needed. NEVER get rid of parts and always make alterations with an eye to the instrument's life, which, one hopes, will be long and useful to many other players.

If you have a line on a 70s M55, you should get it, unless you can find a Deagan with graduated bars. That was a good decade for Musser vibes. If this is your first instrument, it would still make sense to get ANY graduated bar instrument--even the "second tier" instruments like Jenco, Ross, Majestic, etc.--then to get a narrow bar vibe. The resale will be better and you will have a better chance at developing 4-mallet technique.
Vince

Vince, thank you so much!

You answered all my questions and more! Those smaller casters plus the anti-fatigue mat seems like the way to go. Thanks for the exact technical requirements about the casters.

Also, I really wasn't committed to bar graduation either way, but after reading your advice, I agree, it's a better choice if I want to work on 4-mallet technique. I've also always loved the sound of the lower bars and if graduated bars make them growl louder, that's what I need.

Your right, I'm new as can be (quite the hack, really) but I love playing. Thanks again for sharing your fixes and advice. Nina

just a short addition...I am of medium height but still wanted my M55 lower (much easier to play in a relaxed manner and have access to all the bars) and so I bought one of Nico's pedal/Mbrace assemblies and putted the castors off. This dropped the instrument down a few inches and I love it lower. It has always bugged me that the instrument's hight adjustment (when it has it) goes from medium high to high. I would encourage you to get your instrument down to a height that feels good.

At PASIC ten years ago, I played a bass marimba for the first time ever, and I had to stand on a small footstool to reach the instrument. That wasn't due to my height, but more due to the length of the resonators requiring all players to use the stool. Instead of lowering the instrument to suit the player, they elevated the player to play the marimba.

So the cheapest and safest route to go might be to leave the vibraphone as it is, and simply make some kind of block (or combination of blocks) to stand on. And possibly place a block under the pedal so it has something to touch when it's depressed. That way, it solves the height problem, and you don't do anything to devalue the instrument.

As a sidenote, I fell off the marimba stand due to standing too far back on it, so be sure to try this with a really wide base so you can move a little.

On the subject of caster wheels, does anyone know how to remove wheels from a Deagan vibraphone? The wheels on my Commander aren't great. The breaks don't work properly. I also wouldn't mind altering the height of the instrument. Looking at them, I can't see an obvious way to remove them.

It is a Stem Caster. Put a screw driver in the area between the bottom of the leg and above dome part of the caster (SEE ENCLOSED PICTURES). Be careful not to put the screw driver in the area with the ball bearings. Give the screw driver a twist, or pry it. It should take only a very small force to pull the stem out (at least on mine).

Here is a possible source for them, though I haven't checked it out:
http://www.grainger.com/category/stem-casters/casters-and-wheels/materia...

Barry

Thanks, Barry. I think mine may be different though. There are pins (pictured) that go through the legs. I can't really get a screwdriver in the spot where you suggest. Is it possible they don't come out? That would seem a bad design flaw.

While I'm at it, does anyone know what this little mechanism (pictured) on the Deagan Commander frame is for? The bracket to the right is for the side support from the legs, but I have no clue what this little 'arm' thing is for. It turns, but doesn't connect to anything.

I believe that is used to lock the legs together when the legs are folded.

If you have any more Deagan questions, let's create a new thread.

Barry

Mine is a model before yours. I don't have that little nub on the leg. Maybe it is some sort of pin. I wonder if it is like these, which has a hole in the stem:
http://www.grainger.com/product/MAGLINER-Swivel-Stem-Caster-9CU74
http://www.grainger.com/product/E-R-WAGNER-Swivel-Stem-Caster-with-Total...

Barry