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I am looking to buy a used Musser M55.
I found one for sale by someone who is reselling an estate find, but he knows nothing of the history. Is there any way to decode Musser serial numbers to determine build date, tuning, etc.? In my subject search, I found a few similar questions, but no answers.


IndianaGlen Fri, 12/04/2015 - 10:23

None of this is a guarantee but it may help. What model is it? I have heard on the A=440/442 Bar the last two digits are from the year the bars were made. it's made e.g 84-1984.

You can buy a cheap digital tuner and if the vibe is at room temperature you can test A=440 vs A=442 and you can verify on most of the other bars.

Also look at the motor. My guess if it's an estate buy, the motor will be a Bodine. The newer ones (last 5-6 years) the motor is an "Oriental Motor" brand.

gmstxfour Fri, 12/04/2015 - 20:12

Hi- Glenn has given you very good information about the bar code numbers and the Bodine motors. That is probably the best way to determine the instrument's age, assuming that the bars originally went with that frame. Older M55s will say Model 55 on the low F. Newer M55s probably don't have Model 55 stamped on the low F because the same bars are now used on other models. I find the frame serial numbers to be an enigma, but one way to establish the age of the M55's frame is to look at the cover on the motor speed control. The earliest ones are black, the brushed aluminum ones with Bodine motors are probably from the 1970s-80s. I believe from the 90s onward, the speed control shows 5 subdivisions with white lettering. Also look to see if the plate says "Musser A Divsion of Ludwig Drums." These are earlier M55s. The later ones say "Musser A Divison of Conn-Selmer." Ludwig (Musser) was sold to Selmer in 1981. You can also look at the frame braces. The earliest ones are simple. The later ones have more cross pieces. Do you have a photo to show any of these details? I hope this is helpful and I would enjoy hearing more about this topic from others. Corrections and insight are always welcome.

Glenn410 Sat, 12/05/2015 - 12:05

In reply to by gmstxfour

Thank you both for the helpful information.
The speed control cover is white with 5 subdivisions and is printed "Musser Control Panel Pro-Vibe M-55". I have read that A/442 become standard tuning on later M55s? I am only looking at poorly lighted photos at this point, and getting further information from the seller has been slow.

IndianaGlen Mon, 12/07/2015 - 11:00

In reply to by Glenn410

If the deal is good enough, you can get he bars tuned down to A=440. If you're west, you can ping Salazar fine tuning, mid states, Century Mallets, or east coast Fall creek. You can call those guys for an estimate. If it was my main axe, I'd have the bars looked at anyhow.

tonymiceli Sun, 12/01/2019 - 12:11

In reply to by IndianaGlen

on a side note. I have been told that to a point you can also raise the pitch of bars.
any more info on this? Could I be wrong. I heard it's where you take the metal off. Certain spots will make the bar vibrate faster up and down. So I heard.

Glenn410 Tue, 12/08/2015 - 16:48

The seller of the M55 contacted me today with the serial number. It is M2326. How would that translate to the production year?

gmstxfour Wed, 12/09/2015 - 11:38

In reply to by Glenn410

Hi Again- The serial number M2326 sounds like the Frame serial number. The instrument date clue will more likely be on the Bar serial number, which is on the underside of the bars, probably on the lower A. I own a Pro-Vibe M55 that I purchased new in 1978. Its frame number is M2184. My bar serial number is 05 72 78, the 78 representing that the bars were made in 1978. Based on the frame serial numbers, logic would say that your instrument was made 142 instruments after mine, but I don't know that that holds true. You could ask the seller to send you the bar numbers. I hope this works out for you.

yenyen Tue, 11/19/2019 - 17:50

Some Musser bars are better than others. Is there any particular year the formula has changed? Older bars are heavier.Sound is richer. Any Idea? Any difference between M75 bars? and M55 Bars?

rogersvibes Thu, 11/21/2019 - 01:15

In reply to by yenyen

I think this topic has been discussed a few times on the site, with no clear consensus on the explanation other than that the old bars have some kind of mysterious quality that is generally preferred. I have an older M75 (60s) and a newer M55 (2000s). I definitely prefer the older bars. But besides the age, the only discernible difference is that the newer bars are "brushed" and the older bars are "polished" aluminum. I'm sure someone like John Piper or Indianglen would have more detailed technical information.

tonymiceli Thu, 11/21/2019 - 12:12

In reply to by yenyen

another time the bars changed was in the 80s when leigh stevens was a consultant for musser. he got them to tune the bars differently (better) and that changed the sound.

i have a several mussers from different times and have seen a few different bar sounds.

i also have one from around 1948 and the bars sound beautiful!!!

rogersvibes Thu, 11/21/2019 - 13:58

In reply to by tonymiceli

No disrespect to Leigh, but aren't the 1980s model Mussers the ones that people report not liking the sound of the bars, at least in comparison to the older ones?

superorganic Thu, 05/21/2020 - 13:11

OK, so I've read the thread and now I'm confused. I've got an M55. Label on the frame says "Musser Division of Ludwig Ind's" with a La Grange IL address. Frame has minimal bracing, just one thin diagonal brace on each side.
Motor cover is silver with black letting, five speed settings. Low F has the "Musser 55" stamp. Bars have a brushed finish rather than polished. Date stamp on the middle A says 10 72 92, and there's an "N" stamped to the left of the A and a "P" stamped to the right of the A. Tuning is 440. Is this a mongrel - frame and bars from different times? Thanks in advance!

Cal Haines Sat, 12/09/2023 - 10:46

Just bought a used M45. Does any one know about this instrument? serial number is 3463. It is a Hampton model. Ludwig does not list a manual for the model . They have M44 and M46 but not M45. I need to refurbish this instrument. Any help would be appreciated.
thank you

tonymiceli Sun, 12/10/2023 - 15:10

It's like a century right? Does it have a motor? 1 speed or multi speed?

I know a guy who does this. email me There are probably more, but this guy is my buddy and a longtime vibeworkshop guy. And he does an amazing job. AND I think he retired from his day gig recently.

Holger Kaufmann Sun, 01/14/2024 - 05:51

Does anyone know the system of Deagan Serial Numbers? I have some bars from a Deagan Xylorimba 730 with the serial Number 23870. Does that mean that it was made in 1923? My Deagan Commander 592 Vibraharp has the serial number 19743. Might it be the third instrument made in 1974? For both instruments the years of production could fit actually. Thanks for help!