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Steve Weiss Mallet Workshop


I have been playing drums 45 years most of the time pro . I have always loved the vibes, for a short time in the late 70's i had a few lessons but due to being on the road i never had time to stay with it. back then i had a set of jenco. i am looking to start playing and want to get a good set of vibes. Because most of my work now as a drummer is electric (roland TD20 sx) I picked up a malletkat pro ws and a kurzweil sound mod. I am now looking for a set of vibes for my home studio. I was looking at the musser 55 pro also looking at the musser 58m piper, any advice on witch way to go? Most of the time they will be used at home but I may use them on gigs once and a while so I do need something thats some what portable. I would rather save for a good set then do what i did in the past and get something that I will out grow.


John Keene Wed, 12/23/2009 - 02:08

From what you describe as your preferences, I'd consider the M55 but add the Piper M-braces and Nico's gelpad. The M58 Piper is clearly the superior instrument as far as constuction, quietness, and a lot of other wonderful features, but since you indicated you may wish to use the instrument on a gig then the weight might be a factor. If that's not the case, then I don't think there is any significant cost difference between the 55 and the 58 and I'd go with the Piper.

Be aware that the stock tuning is A-442, so you may wish to order your set tuned to A-440 for the studio use you describe. I'm pretty sure that there is no charge for this alteration.

Marie-Noëlle Wed, 12/23/2009 - 02:12

In reply to by John Keene

Maybe Piper could give you a few info on his vibes... If ever he comes around and sees your post. But it's nearly Christmas... Who knows? ;o)
Good luck Glenn!
- Marie

John Keene Wed, 12/23/2009 - 08:02

In reply to by Marie-Noëlle

I was going to add that I think the Piper might actually be a better bet since the few times you're going to move it may not be that much of a problem. You have a gigging Malletkat and you're known for electronic percussion in the workplace, so I'd amend my opinion and say that I'd go with the instrument that serves my purpose for it's primary intended use, and in the studio I think the Piper is the better choice of your two preferences.

I've been thinking about this recently because I've been considering getting another vibraphone. I sold my Provibe last year and really miss it, and I own a van and moving a Piper isn't all that much of a big deal to me. When you consider the extra cost of the vDp gel pad, the better quality casters, and the time to make the M-braces for the Provibe (all of which are included in the Piper), I could easily see the Piper's advantage as a gigging instrument for someone like me who prefers to roll the instrument around and never take it apart.

Piper Wed, 12/23/2009 - 08:03

In reply to by John Keene

Well.... I agree with everything John Keene has said. I love the "piper" vibe but I've made my personal instrument more portable by trimming it by about 40 pounds. The bar mounts on the piper vibe are very special and improve the sound of the bars dramatically - especially for recording. If you're a drummer and appreciate the difference in sound that "rim-mounts" make on toms, you can easily appreciate that (and more) by what the piper bar mounts do for the vibe bar. I agree with John Keene though that regardless of what you get, use Nico's gel pad with it.

Glenn Wed, 12/23/2009 - 21:53

In reply to by Piper

thanks for all the help! I will not be moving them most likely they will be at my home. The way I see it if I go for the m55 I have to add some extras to bring them up to the specs of the piper. its funny you mention "rim mounts" I was one of the first drummers to ever use R.I.M.S. mounting system. the drumshop told me I was wasting my money because no one knew what they were but they have proved to be what most companys use now . I am a fanatic with all my gear. thats why I was looking at the m58. I just don't want to buy something that i will need to start changing or adding parts to . I see tony sugessted I should look at the vander plas ( I think I would have to get them thru fall creek ) and the price was a bit more.
My other question is do I get A440 or A442? Everything I have ever owned (chimes ,bells etc) always came A442.

John Keene Thu, 12/24/2009 - 20:41

In reply to by Glenn


Here is a link to a discussion where Gary talks about 440 vs 442 in two separate posts. You'll have to scroll towards the bottom of the page, but there are a lot of interesting points being made.

Be sure to read what Piper has to say about the advantages of 440 at a link posted by Barry towards the bottom of the page.

Joe Doubleday, who started the thread above, can chime in as to how long it wound up taking for him to get his 440 bars since I believe he special-ordered them.

John Keene Fri, 12/25/2009 - 09:31

In reply to by John Keene

I forgot about Ed's extended range vibraphone. Ed might have sold it already, but if not it's within driving distance to check it out, and might very well be the deal of a lifetime. It's 442 which would be in tune with your other instruments, and it has the slightly-extended range which if nice for playing in rock and roll keys like E major. I'll bet an E7(9+) chord sounds wonderful on this instrument.

Glenn Fri, 12/25/2009 - 14:32

In reply to by John Keene

after reading the post by gary burton on 440 vs 442. why would i use 442? what I buy will be used 90% at home. This will be playing alone, recording and jamming with friends. My son who is a great musican (guitar, violin etc.) said he would go with 440. all the bands I play with rock,jazz fusion all tune 440. my son said at school he tunes to his guitar with the electric tunner witch is set at 440 and he said when he tunes his violin they tune to the piano or the electric piano witch both are 440. what are most players a vibeworkshop using?

as for my other questions as to go with the m55 or the m58 piper Everyone says to get the "M" brackets put on the m55 if I go that way, but in all the pics i see of the m55 there are "m " brackets . Guess they mean to replace what it comes with.

tonymiceli Fri, 12/25/2009 - 15:11

In reply to by Glenn

i have a 55 that i move around with no braces. so i don't think they are an immediate concern.

if you get the 55 and leave it set up at home, i bet you don't even need the braces. that's especially if you get a new one. the old ones did not have the pieces that the new one has. these are not great but they hold the instrument more sturdy.

if you were never going to move it, then what about a beautiful century vibe!! i would love one of them.

but then at that point i'd be having nico make me a 4 octave rolls royce.

have you seen the vid with friedman demoing the yamaha's? they sound beautiful.

i think you said that you're not going to move them alot.

and we're all in agreement that if you are the 55 is the way to go, even though mike pinto says he can set a 4? up in minutes.

Tony Miceli (new)
s k y p e: tjazzvibe

tpvibes Wed, 12/30/2009 - 11:48

In reply to by Glenn

Hi Glen,

The new M55's come with M braces built in -- not quite as sturdy as the ones Piper designed, I believe, but quite adequate for the job in my opinion. I don't have any problems with frame sway on my M55.

I have replaced the damper pad with one of Nico's silicone filled pads. I had a lot of problems with mallet impact rattling the pedal connector rod where it attaches to the pedal. Lubrication and several other things couldn't stop it but Nico's pad did.

The new M55's also are height adjustable, another good thing if you're over average height.

Tom P.

Glenn Wed, 12/30/2009 - 23:05

In reply to by tpvibes

the more I am looking at prices the m55 is a lot less then the m58 and I think all I will need to get started is nico's gel pad.
Can someone tell me what tuning most of you use 440 or 442? I read garys post on it and I keep thinking 440 is the way to go

tonymiceli Thu, 12/31/2009 - 14:17

In reply to by Glenn

that's easy. states is 440. europe is 442. i think australia is 440 also???? (james w?)

i wouldn't worry about nico's gel pad to start. i don't use it on one of my mussers and it sounds great. and if you're just starting on the instrument don't even worry about it. not to take away a sale from nico, cause i'm a big fan of his. i just think you'll be fine with an m55.

Tony Miceli (new)
s k y p e: tjazzvibe

Gustavo (not verified) Wed, 01/06/2010 - 11:20

In reply to by tonymiceli

...and the UK is also A440

Gustavo Agatiello

tjaco Wed, 01/13/2010 - 20:20

In reply to by Gustavo (not verified)

Hey Guys,

I bought my m55 about 4 years ago and It's 442, so europe... but I just had a theater show and when it's cold it was about 443, so that influenced the tuning also. Luckily I played with violin, guitar and bass, o they tuned to me...


Piper Thu, 12/31/2009 - 15:17

In reply to by Glenn

I think just about everything made now (including the M55) comes with some sort of bracing that is consistent with the same concept as my MBraces. Simple solution to an age old problem. There's nothing magical about the ones I made, they just were the first. There are many ways of doing it just as good or better.

tonymiceli Wed, 12/23/2009 - 09:21

if you're going to move them alot then the m55. if not and you have a few bucks to spend get a vpb. the rolls royce of the vibraphone. it will hold it's value i think as well. and it's a beautiful instrument.

but anything other than the 55 is a pain to move, IMHO. others have disagreed with me on the site, so they're of course welcome to chime in here.

Tony Miceli (new)
s k y p e: tjazzvibe

John Keene Wed, 12/23/2009 - 09:39

In reply to by tonymiceli

One consideration with the vdp is that it's imported and the cost would be more than a few bucks. I don't question the value or the quality by any means, and if Glenn were located in Europe my opinion would be different. There is an advantage to the vpb if the player wants the extra half-octave and if it's worth the extra money to the individual player.

However, I agree that if you're going to move them a lot and don't own a van, then the M55 is probably the way to go. I bought the M-braces from John when he was making them, and I'd certainly recommend them. But I'm restricting my overall opinion only to Musser since that is the only brand that Glenn brought up. Yamaha and a used Deagan Commander are good buys as well.

Eric Wed, 12/23/2009 - 09:55

In reply to by John Keene

I'll just throw in some of my observations. I work in some newer schools, so I see a lot of different models on a regular basis. If you are going Yamaha, you have to remember to get a 3710, 3910, or 4110. Those have portable frames that disassemble relatively easily. The studio vibe (2700), although it's the same bars, does not collapse easily at all. I have this frame, but I transport it put together.

That being said, I do like my instrument and the bars sound good. I don't mind transporting it all in one piece, but I know some people can't do that so I figured I'd give everyone a heads up.

Eric Martin

james_whiting Thu, 12/24/2009 - 18:18

In reply to by John Keene

I think the M-55 is the way to go here. I've owned a Musser Century for about 3 years now and even with a van it gets annoying moving vibes in one piece, especially heavy vibes when you don't have the help to get them in. I have recently bought an M-55. I think that the M-55 is a fantastic instrument as it has the great sounding bars, from my experience sturdy and reliable transportable frame.

Hope this has helped.


John Keene Sun, 01/03/2010 - 19:44


In case you're still interested, there appears to be a mint-condition Piper with a motor on ebay right now. A prospective buyer can always have Bill Youhass adjust the tuning to 440, and it could still be a great deal depending on the final selling price. At the time of this post, there are still 6 bidding days left. Here is the link:…

mogreen Tue, 01/05/2010 - 14:55

The two most faithful loves of my life have always been my Deagan Commander II which i bought new in 1982 and my Deagan Aurora II which i found at Drummer's World in NYC in 1999 (built sometime in the late sixties). I love their sounds from the sweetest whisper to the loudest roar, and they always speak dirty when I'm rough. In my opinion these vibes ooze blues (Milt Jackson and Hamp in his early days) whereas the Mussers will always sound like Gary to me - he is the Musser sound, like it or not.

Soooo, get a set of second hand Deagan Auroras, they're a bit smaller than the Mussers, break down into little pieces that even fit the trunk of my '96 VW Passat sedan (cars are pretty expensive in Denmark), sound more dynamic and with a greater sparkle than anything I've ever heard and look cool enough to be the centerpiece of any Las Vegas Casino.

Morten Grønvad, jazz vibes & percussion. -

BarryK Tue, 01/05/2010 - 19:50

In reply to by mogreen

Man, I thought I was the only one on this site that was into Deagans. Thanks for mentioning it, Morten!


1959 Deagan 580 Traveller

vibeman27 Wed, 01/06/2010 - 02:53

In reply to by BarryK

I'm with you guys, I swear by Deagan. Lost my Aurora in the fires of well, you guys know the story by now. But, Morton's descriptiion of the Aurora is right on and Barry, your Traveller is a well known well accepted vibe. I have 582 Traveller (year ?) along with my screwed up Ross R715G.

Long live Deagan


p.s. on the transportation of the Aurora, like Morton said, it breaks down into many smaller pieces and it always fit into any car I had, or I could transport it on one piece in a van, bungy corded to the front seats. You just couldn't roll it over cobble stone streets and sidewalks. :-)