When I started to collect information about 'everything vibraphone' I entered 'vibraphone forums' in Google and it gave me two www sites (this one and the vibes.net?). The second one seemed to be abandoned and this one looks alive but with the total number of posts and slow rate of posting it's not easy to see it at the first sight.
I'm also registered at other musical instrument forums like guitar, sax, etc. and there are thousands of posts on those sites. Everything is moving there with dozens of posts every day.
Why is it so? Because vibraphones are not so popular as other instruments? Probably so but why? Is it because vibraphones are expensive instruments and only a limited number of people, possibly millionaires can afford them? :-)
Since I assume not all millionaires play vibraphones the amount of potential vibraphone players becomes even lower.
Any other ideas to demistify the situation?
in a way this whole site is a
tonymiceli Wed, 03/27/2013 - 09:01
in a way this whole site is a forum. but there are different levels. but there are many many LESS vibraphone players than guitar players. so that's the first thing. it's probably at least 20 to 1, guitar vs vibes.
however, this is the probably the most complete source of vibe stuff. if you count the whole site, there's tons going on. the forums are a place for non subscribers to post. but the main part of the forum is where all the activity is. i also think a lot of people don't know about that part of the site.
also, i think serious players check out the site and then join and subscribe. and we need that suppport. this is an expensive site to run! then they use the 'main' forums.
but it's certainly not as busy as a guitar forum.
small community = strong community
c.stallard22 Wed, 03/27/2013 - 10:22
In reply to in a way this whole site is a by tonymiceli
To expand on/agree with what everyone is saying...
I think that's part of the beauty of this site, the fact that there aren't a ton of us. With other instrumental forums, can you get the individual attention you get here? I can't say for sure, but I think not. As a fairly new player it's encouraging for me to post and get compliments/advice from more-experienced and less-experienced players alike. Plus with basically no trolling, it's easy to find worthwhile posts (in fact they're all pretty much worthwhile posts).
So yeah we're not as busy as a guitar forum, and IMHO it's better that way.
A little history
Marie-Noëlle Wed, 03/27/2013 - 09:09
Thevibe.net is the first ever forum on vibraphone and was created in 1995 by West Coast vibist Gerry Grosz. It's been active for many years (though only as a forum) and allowed many of us to "meet" and start the vibists internet community. The site was sort of "living by itself" and been a great chance for us all.
In 2008 Tony created Vibesworkshop. His main goal was to go further than a forum and create beside this an "online school", with lessons, exercises, etc, with the possibility for subscribers to post their work, be heard, get feed back from other players (pros or not), work back, post again and by this mean improve inside the community.
Today it looks like it quite well worked. Tony would give you more accurate figures, but there is more than 500 lessons, and far much more posts, and comments on each. There are also workshops organised in Europe and in the US, to allow players to meet, learn more and play together for real!
Of course, if you compare other forums about more famous instruments, you'll surely have bigger figures. But for a non common instrument, I think we can be happy of the results.
Quality vs Quantity
Babu Wed, 03/27/2013 - 09:43
Being a guitar player myself, I went in a bunch of guitar related sites. A big difference is, on many (yes, not all, for sure), 60% of the activity is useless, like "who is the best, X or Y", as if music was football competition ... A total waste of time. Here, everyone has his chance at his own level, no egos competition. Another thing : many guitar sites are unnecessary, they cover the same topics as numerous other ones.
This site is good because Tony showed the direction since his first video - QDV - "I don't have time to waste". Quality instead of quantity.
And generally the best forums arise suddendly in comments of a simple post. And generally people share their experience in real musical life, that's priceless.
Information never was cheap. This site works as a gold mine where, for your own benefit, you are the digger. And that's good, if all the info down here was avalaible in just some few clicks, it would be boring in a couple of weeks, and it would be impossible for one to digest all this huge amount of stuff in a short time. In this case, time = quality IMHO.
tpvibes Wed, 03/27/2013 - 10:08
To reiterate and expand on some of Tony's comments -- the raw level of activity on a forum site is all about the number of people who are interested in the topic. I think that Tony's estimate of 20 guitar players for each vibraphone player is way low. Plus, close to every person in the world knows what a guitar is. Close to no one knows what a vibraphone is -- even some people who regularly come to my gigs still think it's a xylophone.
That being said, you might argue that the quality level of postings on a forum are in indirect proportion to the number of people on the forum. We have regular postings from people who are at the absolute pinnacle of vibes playing (check out Ed Saindon's "Giant Steps" posting from today). How many guitar sites can say that (truthfully)? We have virtually no troll activity.
I think most of us don't really pay attention to the forums section directly -- we just post using the 'Post' link on the left. If you haven't already discovered it, the 'Recent Activity' tab at the top is the best way to track the activity here.
As to why the vibraphone is so obscure -- well, that's probably a topic for a thread all of its own :-).
Great replies and all are
S-Vibes Thu, 03/28/2013 - 03:18
Great replies and all are very informative and intelligent. Intelligence is what I noticed goes hand in hand with being a vibraphone player.
Look at these replies: no kidding, all are absolutely serious and thoughtful. Unlike some other instrument communities the vibraphone forum mood is very serious and intelligent just to reiterate. Which is good in a way :)
Maybe I'll consider subsrcription if I manage to get the proper keyboard to beat on. Very expensive stuff, not for everyone even for that reason I guess.
Babu Thu, 03/28/2013 - 04:34
In reply to Great replies and all are by S-Vibes
I don't think vibes is so expensive. Let's make some comparisons
A piano has more or less the same price than vibes, and there is a piano in many houses over the world. It could be the same with vibes.
If you are a guitarist, a good concert classical acoustic guitar will cost you the same price.
If you play electric guitar, the whole gear : guitar, amplification, pedals and/or effects will cost you a fair amount of money too.
If you play violin, forget it, a good quality one will cost you many more.
If you play tenor saxophone, they don't come cheap too.
Same with quality drum sets
The difference comes when you talk about low level quality instruments. A basic guitar is cheaper than basic vibes, same with others instruments.
Now, if you consider the financial risk : if you quit playing guitar (a cheap one), it will hard to sell it for a good price, you'll loose your investment.
If you quit to play vibes (cheap one too) you will sell your set very quickly, a lot of people (parents for their children)are in search of a cheap entry level instrument.
I think vibraphone is seen as an expensive instrument because the prices are not progressively spreaded up, from 100/200 $ till 15000 $. You just have 4 or 5 prices range, and very cheap entry level ones doesn't exist.
But a good, pro level gear will last you decades and his price will be in the same range as others instruments of same quality.
All in all, it depends on how much you're interested in playing vibes. If you really are hooked, you'll find a solution suitable to your wallet...
Stefan vdb Thu, 03/28/2013 - 04:49
In reply to Expensive ? by Babu
Verry well said. My dream is to own a verry good vibraphone 1 day, but for the moment I have a cheaper ROSS. It was that one, or no playing my wallet said. And I don't regret it 1 day. I'm hooked on the instrument.
If you really want to play, you'll find one that fits your wallet. I did.
But the Ross sounds good
tonymiceli Thu, 03/28/2013 - 08:39
In reply to Well described. by Stefan vdb
But the Ross sounds good right? In the end if you like the sound of the instrument, it doesn't matter how much it costs.
Stefan vdb Thu, 03/28/2013 - 10:54
In reply to But the Ross sounds good by tonymiceli
Babu Thu, 03/28/2013 - 11:01
In reply to exactly by Stefan vdb
I owned a non-graduated bars TAMA vibraphone during 28 years and I loved his sound. Never got bored with it.
Tama Vibraphone replacement bars
mevlevia Mon, 10/07/2019 - 04:36
In reply to Yes by Babu
Hello, do you know where to buy replacement bars for a Tama vibraphone? It's a non-graduated bars model
Babu, I totally agree with
S-Vibes Thu, 03/28/2013 - 09:13
In reply to Expensive ? by Babu
Babu, I totally agree with you on the price range: there are no cheap vibraphones because if there were ones they would be out of tune with bad tone quality. The quality produced bars define a good share of the total price of the instrument. On the one hand it's great. You buy an instrument that gives you the professional tone quality immediately whether you are a seasoned professional or just a beginner and you don't have to struggle with the intonation and tone production problems like for instance on wind instruments. Only your ability to quickly and intelligently beat the bars will define your success with this instrument.
On the other gear, yes and no depending on how you look at that. For instance nowdays you can buy a quality Chinese made electric or even acoustic guitar that can be as good as a higher end "professional" instrument whatever that means to you. For instance Fender Squier makes now a quality line of Classic Vibe teles and strats. I own a Classic Vibe tele and it sounds just as good as an American one and is crafted so nicely that if not for the 'Squire' label you'd be hard pressed to believe it's not a $1000 guitar. The cost is below $300 and it's not a joke. With the current level of CNC machining it's just impossible to make a bad instrument.
The same with acoustic guitars and gear. Only you level of artistry will define your limits on these instruments. No need for Gibson or genuine Fender any longer. Even a Canadian Godin factory makes inexpensive guitars that are simply great.
I don't see inexpensive Chinese vibraphones advertised anywhere. Are they simply not produced?
It also depends on where you are located. In the USA you can probably obtain a decent quality vibraphone at an affordable price. There are lots of options for used instruments. Even new will cost you not that much compared to European prices.
Also with the guitar equipment you can buy gear in units and sell them one by one when you feel like moving on to a new unit. Considering my observations above regarding the inexpensive and quality instruments you won't lose much on re-sale regardless of where you are located.
With the vibraphone you are unlikely to be successful with selling it in parts. In certain parts of the World you will be unable to sell a vibraphone in mint condition unless you drop 2/3 of the original price and I'm absolutely serious! Also in those parts of the World vibraphones are not distributed because no one buys them but if some devotee with money on the pocket manages to import the instrument the 2/3 drop in price is guaranteed if he/she wants to sell it because the rest of the croud that could be interested in the vibes simply don't have that much money to buy a new one and they will be even thinking twice if they want to get it at 1/3 of the price of new.
Babu Thu, 03/28/2013 - 10:55
In reply to Babu, I totally agree with by S-Vibes
Hum, what you are saying about guitars is not what my experience tells me. First, when it's about acoustic guitar, it's the same problem as with violin or cello. What makes the price high is the quality of the wood. Quality wood is rare and expensive, and quality dry wood even more. No way at all to build a really good acoustic guitar for 300$. As a professionnal guitarist myself, I bought about 20 instruments in my career and made buy hundreds by my students. You know what ? the best electric guitar, in term of sound, when I need to use pedals or this kind of things still is my old Gibson 175.
Your point about vibes in countries where it's quite unknowed is biaised : in a country with no minimum market, prices are totally erratics, thus impossible to compare with other data (or, say, a comparison is senseless).
I think vibes has the bad (and false IMHO) reputation of being expensive instruments just because when it's about to buy a piano or a good tenor saxe, everybody is expecting to spend 5000 + $, but paying the exactly same price for a good set of vibes seems to be unreasonable.
Why ? I really don't know. But for who is really interested to buy a vibraphone, the prices are on the same scale as other gear. If you can't afford to buy vibes, you can't afford to buy a piano or a good set of drums too. And if you expect to get a good vibe for the price of an entry level guitar, you're wanting to buy a Boeing for the price of a Piper Cub.
How you look at these things
S-Vibes Fri, 03/29/2013 - 05:03
In reply to Hum by Babu
How you look at these things is all subjective. Painos can often be had for free (not the grand pianos but upright ones) when people don't need them any longer. I've seen many examples when they were passed from one family to another not even for peanuts. Also if you want to get into piano playing you can get a Yamaha or Casio keyboard with weighted keys below $500 and be happy with it. It'll be in tune and will provide good key action.
Also don't forget that the definition of the "professional instrument" very much depends on where you are. In the US where people are more rich in general and because of that are more "spoiled" you can be picky about what $5000 Gibson out of 10 you like better. In poorer countries a professional can be happy with his Ibanez AF-75 and the difference in sound if any at all for any audience won't be apparent.
I got a pre-war used US-made tenor sax off the US eBay (God bless America :-) ) below $700. If Lester Young and many professionals were playing these instruments with no problems and with the great success I can't imagine what other arguments can persuade me to look for a $5000 tenor sax. People believe that if they buy a $5000 instrument that can also be had for $500 they'll be top players immediately. Doesn't work. Young Sidney Bechet was known for entering a music store in New Orleans and making any piece of crappy clarinet sounding like out of this world. I've seen many people who owned expensive saxophones and they sounded like crap.
By the way, it also "works" another way round. People buy a used $10,000 50's Fender strat off the US eBay in hope they'll immediately start playing like SRV but it doesn't happen either. They would be better off with a nice new Squire for $300 with the same result.
What I'm gettting at is that for any given instrument family you need to consider what the cheapest instrument option is to make you sound valid. You can get a good used Olds Ambassador trumpet for $150 on eBay and sound professional if you have skills. Some professionals used them in 50's.
With vibraphones unlike the examples I used for above instruments you have to be prepared to spend much more in one go. Again, in the US you can pick up a used vibes for under $500 and be happy with it. In some other countries you can only get vibes new because there is no used market and the prices for new are much higher than in the US.
So if you are in the US you have to admit that your point of view is as much biased as mine.
Babu, by the way I should add that I've enjoyed our little argument. You've made some very good points and I wouldn't mind owning a Gibson ES-175 if I had money but I'm quite satisfied with my Ibanez AF-75. 75 vs 175, it's almost there ;)
Babu Fri, 03/29/2013 - 06:07
In reply to How you look at these things by S-Vibes
In order to close (from my side) this topic, my point is : when someone wants to buy a vibraphone, he (she) looks to the prices for a new one. And the prices are in the same range as others instruments. That's the reality, everybody can check it out easily.
The prices of new instruments depend heavily of the costs of material, SD, advertising and manufacturing (all the work made by many people). They cannot be compressed without trading quality.
Now, if the buyer doesn't have enough money, he (she) will look to the second-hand market. The prices on this market depend only of local offer/demand, then the wide range they can have. But the price isn't directly related to the quality (the amount of work to build the gear) of the gear itself anymore.
Now, if you cannot afford to buy something, the problem is yours, it's up to you to get a move in your life to change the situation, it's not the fault of the thing you want to buy ! To be clear, if you don't have enough money doesn't mean it's expensive.
YOU may consider vibraphone expensive, for your neighbour it can be cheap.
Yes, a virtuoso can make sound good any instrument, but on stage they don't play crap ones !
As I said in another post, I played many years on a "entry level" vibe, having a VERY good sound. I loved any second playing it. I bought another one for 3 reasons : my old Tama had gotten shaky with years, didn't have graduated bars, (thus low notes sounding "thin") and wasn't loud enough to play in bands. The price difference was totally justified, and was payed off quickly (one year). In term of investment, I didn't see any difference with buying a new guitar or a piece of sound system, or....etc....
Now if you live in a "vibes-isolated" country, with no market for new and second hand gear, yes, prices can be high, what's wrong with that ??? It's a case as old as the world... A banana is the cheapest fruit in Brazil and is gold in Groenland... It's up to you again to change the situation. Look at Gary Burton's exemple : he wasn't happy with travelling with deagan vibes, he designed the M55, and when he started to have gigs over the planet he designed the M48. That's the right way ! Here on the site you can find exemples of guys building their own vibe, there is sites teaching how to build a vibe.
One more time vibraphone isn't a more expensive instrument than others (catalog prices show it clearly). Your feelings about prices depend on your wallet's situation, it's up to you to make a move...
the only thing i can think to
tonymiceli Mon, 10/07/2019 - 19:46
In reply to Hum again by Babu
the only thing i can think to say is if as many vibes were sold as guitars the vibes would be much cheaper. more could be automated.
For sure. And it's up to us
Babu Tue, 10/08/2019 - 04:48
In reply to the only thing i can think to by tonymiceli
For sure. And it's up to us to make vibes more popular, but i'm speaking with the guy who did the most about that ! One more time thanks Tony for what you did and still do with this site.
BTW my experience as a guitarist tells me that guitar people were a little more "courageous" (not the right word, but you get the idea) back in the day, we were transporting very heavy amplifiers, all the pedal stuff, the wires, sound systems, lights, etc... Playing vibes is for me a piece of cake ... But at the last jazz festival where i played, i met 3 young vibists who didn't play at any of the jam sessions all over the place because, you know, this instrument is soooo heavy, soooo big, sooo complicated to transport, etc... when in the same time me and an Hammond B3 player were jamming 2 or 3 times a day... and i remember you telling us your 3 gigs per night all around Philly...
Time will tell.(to be fair i know as weel some young "vibes warriors", they are for me the hope for this instrument)
vibraman Sun, 03/31/2013 - 17:05
i see it simply this way:
every subscriber gets for a very low price every month direct feedback by the most pro players of this instrument. it´s much cheaper than any lesson you take by a local teacher. on vibesworkshop you got many teachers and many tips and inpirations on all levels of playing.
what do you want more?