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This is an extended range vibraphone that I co-designed with Sonor in 1994. It was important to me that this instrument go down to Low E, so much easier to work in guitar keys which is almost everything in groove/reggae/rock type musics. Since we were at it I extended the upper range to G, for similar reasons, easier to work in guitar keys.


tonymiceli Mon, 06/15/2009 - 21:21

i've always bitched about the vibes going down to an F. i hated it. i grew up playing classical guitar and i had to transpose everything on the the vibes!

i remember 1995 PLAYING THE SONOR. and i LOVED it. the fact that it went down to the E. i wanted one so bad! why musser doesn't just add that one note!!!

that's great!!! i can't believe you were the one who recommended and designed that!

Tony Miceli
s k y p e: tjazzvibe
i c h a t: tonymiceli

edmann Tue, 06/16/2009 - 10:03

Hey Tony!

Glad to hear it is not just me saying a standard vibes needs a low E. I do not get the "low C or Low F. you pick" mentality because afterall some of us have to fit these instruments on club stages. Sonor was the only company I could find who was open minded enough to create the low E option. I hope to get another manufacturer to do it because we live in a guitar world.

ok man!



tonymiceli Tue, 06/16/2009 - 11:14

In reply to by edmann

you're right cause the musser m55 just fits in most hatchbacks, so the low c option if tough to get in a car.

also, the other thing i complain about is how the instruments come apart. we need instruments with frames like the musser. it's the quickest and fastest to set up. i can put it on a rock and roller and walk 10 blocks if i have to. so in new york i can find a good parking spot, put the vibes on the rock and roller (m55) walk to the gig and set up in minutes. i bought the traveler a while back thinking that that might be even a better solution and it sucks for people like me who have to do doubles and triples.

i think a company that had a low E, made a frame that would snap into place in 3 minutes, and would fit in most small cars is on the way to making a great instrument.

i figure we should be able to fit the vibes in any car that an upright can fit into. and that includes the mini cooper! as least that's what i would wish for, but i wouldn't want to sacrifice assembly. it's too much to add 20 minutes on your set up time.

i'd love to get nico's take on this since he's an instrument maker. maybe there's something i'm missing or whatever. but that's my fantasy!

Tony Miceli
s k y p e: tjazzvibe
i c h a t: tonymiceli

nico Wed, 06/17/2009 - 02:08

In reply to by tonymiceli

A couple of weeks ago we delivered a 3.5 octave with our frame foldable like the musser.
Big advantage of this setup is that the owner had a choice of 3 on how to transport:
- completely disassembled
- leave keybed assembled (including bars) and fold in the sides of the frame
- keep the vibe assembled and cart it as it is (best way to transport a vibe)

A disadvantage of the foldable frame is that after you've placed the crossbar, you need to pull the vibe upwards and so putting lots of stress on the 1st rail. Stress on the Musser is less since the left side of the frame is much more narrow than the left endblock, but then this narrow side gives the disadvantage of instability during playing. On our instruments, the bottom of the left sidestand is almost as wide as the endblock, making it a bit harder to pull the vibe upright.

To comment the possible next remark "then why don't you narrow that part?": no, I won't, as it reduces stability and playing comfort.


vanderPlas Baileo Percussion Instruments

The new Frits Landesbergen CD "De Doelen 2009", recorded
live with the LW35 is now available thru

tonymiceli Thu, 06/18/2009 - 19:44

In reply to by nico


not sure i understand everything you said, but i'll be able to get it first hand.

the one selling feature for the m55 is that it works for giggers. man with double's and triples, it's so necessary. what's great about you is that every vibe player can get his instrument customzied with you just the way he wants.

now that i dig! and i'm glad you make a foldable frame, like that!1!


Tony Miceli
s k y p e: tjazzvibe
i c h a t: tonymiceli

DanaSud Thu, 06/18/2009 - 04:16

First let me preface that I mostly gig with Nico's eVibe. I travel with it fully set-up thereby saving lots of time. Most places I play even have sound systems so I don't even bring an amp. Just roll, plug and play.

When I travel with some of my larger instruments, I just keep in mind that its good when the owner/manager sees me struggling and sweating to get the instrument set-up. Sometimes I have clients that try to haggle with me on price. After they see me bring in the instrument, sweat my a@@ off playing it and then sweat my other a## off (yes I have 2) getting it out, they never complain or haggle again.

Just my two cents.

edmann Fri, 06/19/2009 - 12:02

In reply to by DanaSud

Yo Dana!

provocative activist post, I cannot help but to reply. I hear you w/re to getting paid a living wage. However work is work and in this case we are talking about labor. Again I hear you as I know how hard it is to get paid right a lot of the time, but there will be a limit to how much free labor you can give to just to be able to play your axe and have that be recognized as the job that it is. I do not have an answer for any of this except I charge more for my services when I can, I refuse gigs that are 80% labor and 20% Music, etc.

I am actually in the thinking stages of developing an electric small bar axe, so you can fly with it and the weight is not overwhelming. My Musser One Nighter is so light and easy to get around with. With pickups it would be just as full and strong as large bars are for acoustic playing (this i learned with my small bar kelon marimba and barcus berry pickups) Some folks say it is easier to play on large bars. My experience has been that I adapt to the bar size, it is like adding to technical skills.

thanks for the lively forum!


Steve Shapiro Thu, 06/18/2009 - 10:00

Hmmm.. I'm so used to voicing an E maj chord starting with G# that I'm not sure I could adapt...I mean, even in a guitar world, I wouldn't use the root that much. But a C maj, 1st inversion is another story... And why can't those guitar players just do a jazz key like F or Bb?! Plus, they have capos, for goodness sake. Wish I could capo!

Marie-Noëlle Thu, 06/18/2009 - 10:12

In reply to by Steve Shapiro

Haha! A capo on a vibes!! That'd be great!

Yeah capo is great especially when guitarists and singers must find a suitable key!

Nico, can you think about that concept for your next vibes generation? :o)

Oh, no... that'd get Tony furious. He would remind us: "Guys, you gotta bloody work those tunes in 12 keys!!!"


edmann Fri, 06/19/2009 - 11:48

In reply to by Steve Shapiro

for me there is a whole different set of moods and music to explore in the the guitar (#) keys. Being typed as jazz player and expected to play standards or in traditional jazz styles seems to come with the choice of being a vibes player. I like playing some jazz well enough, but am more interested in developing ways of incorporating the vibes into musics that do not traditionally use vibes, for me that is reggae, dub, ska, rock and roots music including bluegrass. That is what inspired me to push Sonor to add the E. Similar with the added notes on the top end, have the hi F# is so great when voicing and soloing in the # keys. The G, i love for Em,, A, etc.

James Fri, 06/19/2009 - 13:10

In reply to by edmann

While I understand the arguments... where does it stop?

On the one side, for convenience sake, why not play on a 2.5 octave vibe?

On the other, wouldn't having a high G be nice for voicing the ninth and sixth on F and Bb chords? And how about an Eb at the bottom for playing in all those 'jazz keys' with all those flats?

I like three octaves... maybe I'm missing something.

It's just like Goldilocks and the three bears:

"This vibe is too big!"

"This vibe is too small!"

"This vibe is juuuust right."


tonymiceli Mon, 06/22/2009 - 05:30

In reply to by James

for me it always stopped with the low E.

i love playing the vander plas with the low C, but i could live with the E. mainly because my reference was the guitar. i grew up playing piano also, but i never saw the vibes like the piano, i saw the vibes like the guitar when i started playing. so i was frustrated with not having the low E.

but now that's solved with the VPB. i have plenty of extra notes. more like a C extension on the bass!

Tony Miceli
s k y p e: tjazzvibe
i c h a t: tonymiceli

Steve Shapiro Mon, 06/22/2009 - 10:36

In reply to by James

Hey guys,

As we all know, it isn't about the vibe or the range, it's about the music. These things are just conveniences, really. I'd like those extra notes sometimes, but no way it is gonna change what I play, or what I am trying to say. Ed, I'm interested in all those other styles as well, but I've never really felt that note range was an impediment. The added notes give you a few extra options, but I've never seen it as a radical change. And I've always felt that the overtones when you go below the extended low E get a little weird - but I will admit that I've never played the Vanderplas. Generally speaking, I'm content with 3 octaves, mostly cause I just don't want any more bars to lug around!

& ps. - here is a twist: I had a discussion with Ornette Coleman once about the range of the vibes, trying to understand his concept of "harmolodics." Within his approach, the "home" key of the vibes is really F. Adding more notes at either end would not really change this. So, we are a little like a french horn, which is in the key of F, except that we don't play transposed notation. If I remember correctly, in harmolodics a unison is where each instrument plays a note at their center - so a vibe playing F and a trumpet playing a Bb would be considered a "unison." It is an interesting way to look at things. Go figure.

edmann Mon, 06/22/2009 - 11:10

In reply to by Steve Shapiro

If you are playing a tune in the Key of E or A it is certainly nice to have that low fundamental or 5th to ground to. It is nice not to have to transpose every tune in F or Bb in order to have grounding note available, it makes the music better. Play a solo version of "Wind Cries Mary" in E and then in F on a standard vibe and tell me the low fundamental (F) does not make a big difference in terms of The Music. If Ornette gave a definition based on a standard vibraphone F-F, then I would assume his frame of reference would be F. If the range were different? well, I was not there. In any event Steve, if and when we can push more vibraphone manufacturers to begin to think outside the box, I am certain the traditional range would still be available, so I see no potential threat to anyone's preferences based on these little conveniences.

Steve Shapiro Mon, 06/22/2009 - 23:36

In reply to by edmann

Sorry Ed, didn't mean to imply that it would not make a big difference in certain situations. I should have clarified. When I stopped to think for a moment about playing all night with rock musicians in the key of E, then it would make a very big difference. And I'm sure some pieces would sound different in that range on the instrument. I guess what I meant to say is that, for general jazz playing in the usual assortment of keys, I feel that 3 octaves is OK. There are so many interesting ways you can voice chords within that range, that a few extra notes wouldn't matter to me personally. I was also thinking like - the difference between Milt, Bobby, Hamp, Gary, Victor, etc. would probably not change much based on the instrument or range... but that's thinking in a jazz head. I see your point, and I am all in favor of experimentation by manufacturers. One problem for me is that it's very hard to get a chance to try those new instruments, unless you go to PAS.

Tony/Nico - any place one can try out a Vander Plas in NYC?

edmann Tue, 06/23/2009 - 14:10

In reply to by Steve Shapiro

yeah Steve for the Flat keys I think F-F is great, eventho the lowend finishes off 2 notes before the completion of the low tenor range. I presume this is why Nico and Co made an axe that goes down to low Eb.

nico Wed, 06/24/2009 - 02:33

In reply to by edmann

The reason why the "old standard" (cause everyone knows that 3.5 is the new standard HAHAHA) vibe doesn't go below F3 is because in the old days manufacturers at first only tuned the fundamental, and at a later point the 1st overtone. Going beyond F3 then results in terrible sounding bars. Nowadays it is possible to also tune the 2nd overtone (unfortunatelly not done by almost all manufacturers as it takes a lot of experience and production time) which makes it possible to go downwards.

Ofcourse F-F will stay the most sold range, mostly for practical reasons. But if you're able to accomodate and afford an extended range and learn to use it, 3 octaves is limiting you.
Unlike e.g. a Rhodes 73 vs Rhodes 88 where those extra notes hardly can be used (specially in the top), the vibes' range C3-E3 does add to the sound/voice you're creating.
Listen to Joe Lockes' Verrazano Moon where he used the entire range ISO using it as 3 octaves with extended bass notes.

Regarding 3 octave VPB vibes:
with our top-line acoustic models we hardly make them. Any customer that asks for a 3 octaves switches to 3.2
Our eVibe however will stay at 3 octaves for the vibists' practical reasons.
For the 3-octave customer we come up with a new acoustic model soon, which will be affordable for more vibists. It does contain the HDS bars and ofcourse the rigid supporting frame, but a lot of details, features and functionality of the LW-models is left out. Our aim is to put this new model just above the M55/YV3710 level, both in price as in quality.

vanderPlas Baileo Percussion Instruments

The new Frits Landesbergen CD "De Doelen 2009", recorded
live with the LW35 is now available thru

tonymiceli Tue, 06/23/2009 - 18:26

In reply to by Steve Shapiro

If anyone is EVER in Philadelphia, come buy and check out the Vander Plas!

There's a studio in NYC or Brooklyn that has a VPB, I could find out where it's at. I know because a friend emailed me and said, 'Oh man I just played this beautiful instrument the other night." It was a VPB.

That would be cool if Nico had a list of players with VPB's who were willing to let others check out the instrument!

I agree with Steve about F-F. Even though I'm complaining about the low E, it's not the end of the world. F to F has been fine. however I remember playing the Sonar in Germany and loving the low E! Also playing the VPB and having the low C is really cool!

David Friedman plays instruments with extensions, I wonder what he thinks?

Tony Miceli
s k y p e: tjazzvibe
i c h a t: tonymiceli

nico Mon, 06/29/2009 - 12:02

In reply to by Steve Shapiro

there will be a 3.5 octave of the latest generation in NYC in a few weeks.
Pretty sure the owner likes you to check it out.

vanderPlas Baileo Percussion Instruments

The new Frits Landesbergen CD "De Doelen 2009", recorded
live with the LW35 is now available thru

tonymiceli Tue, 01/04/2011 - 22:04

In reply to by drslg

go into post then image.

that's where you post it. try it out.

remember the pictures have to be a certain size. i forget the size but if they're too big they will get rejected.

let me know if you have any problems.

tonymiceli Tue, 01/04/2011 - 22:08

In reply to by tonymiceli

ed man is so smart. putting a low E on it. he knew that because he played ALL types of music which included rock and roll. i grew up playing guitar and HATED the fact that there was not a low E on the vibes. DUH, what were they thinking. well this instrument was made a long time ago so before rock, but still there were guitars on the scene.

go ed mann!