DIY vibraphone?

Michael Beechey

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Has anyone attempted this?:

http://www.buildavibraphone.com/get_vibraphone_plans.html

First i bought a set of pro level graduated vibe bars from a famous drum builder Ray Ayotte , a realllllly nice guy who has been cheated time after time after time by company after company. I then tried to find a carpenter or ideally a carpenter/drummer to help build the frame since i am basically useless as far as those skills. I also contacted a local well know marimba builder to see if he could modify his frames to this end. He said he needed to see the plans, so i bought the plans and sent to him. Nothing.

Local carpenter carpenter/musicians. Nothing. Everyone is either daunted or insulted by the details of the plans. Carpenters don't like to be told by non carpenters how to measure a piece of wood etc etc etc. I have tried editing it down, since it's quite long and verbose, but no luck so far.

All the local marimba bands use pvc tubing and bars which are fine for spirit based music, but not exactly concert pitch. I have nothing against pvc, light and cost effective. The dampening system needs to be modified...these days high end vibes are using silicone (breast implant) instead of felt, and dual spring/dual rod pedals, to ensure even dampening.

I don't plan to use a motor/fans, so at least that part is simplified.

Anyone done this?

thanks in advance for your feedback!
 

Ghostin one

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All I can tell you is pvc resonators work great. The air is making the sound, not the pvc or whatever other materials resonators are made from. If you don't want to cap the resonators, making them longer will work the same, once you find the right length.

I made a marimba from existing bars. I've done carpentry and remodeling off and on for decades, and building the frame was a lot more complicated than I realized, but I had no plans or marimba to copy. Also I modified the existing set up to have the accidentals (black keys) overlap the natural - white keys, unlike the student model the bars had been a part of. Only one rail needed to be perpendicular to the frame - everything else was at angles that I never determined, just cut to fit.
 

Michael Beechey

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All I can tell you is pvc resonators work great. The air is making the sound, not the pvc or whatever other materials resonators are made from. If you don't want to cap the resonators, making them longer will work the same, once you find the right length.

I made a marimba from existing bars. I've done carpentry and remodeling off and on for decades, and building the frame was a lot more complicated than I realized, but I had no plans or marimba to copy. Also I modified the existing set up to have the accidentals (black keys) overlap the natural - white keys, unlike the student model the bars had been a part of. Only one rail needed to be perpendicular to the frame - everything else was at angles that I never determined, just cut to fit.
great! is the resonator height fixed per the pitch? one high end vibe has sliders on the part that closes the tube...to dial in the best resonance....i guess in a commercial vibe, for aesthetics from the front the two sets of tubes are symetrical on the outside, but blocked off inside the tube, for the correct pitch

so aluminum tubes are for show/strength?...i know that painted pvc tends to chip and flake..here they just use white tubing...i hear its thin wall, low pressure, in water terms??
 

Ghostin one

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"is the resonator height fixed per the pitch?" Yes, I guess you could say that. There are formulas (probably on line, on that site maybe) that will tell you how long the resonators need to be, or at least what volumes will work. But I've read about a "correction factor", and decided to wing it.

Cutting the tubes to length was the easiest part! I was surprised, but if you can easily cut a quarter inch at a time (w/chopsaw or what have you) and put a bar over it to test, suddenly you will hear it work when it's right. It's amazingly obvious when it's right.

But supposedly when the temperature varies, the resonators won't be right. Some old keys had a way to vary the height of the entire rack of tubes, depending if you were playing in hot or cold weather. So that might be what the sliders you mentioned are for.

I have no idea whether this applies to vibes with metal bars versus wooden keyed instruments.

I used pvc (1.5" inside diameter, inch and seven eighths outside, so 1/8" thick walls) and it barely fit my arrangement, with an eighth of an inch between tubes. But pvc is cheap and easy to find. I think the pvc you mentioned is thinner - I didn't think of it when I looked into what to use for tubing.

Aluminum tubing would not be too thick, even up in the highest keys where the tubes get very close together on a graduated bar setup, but it might not be an issue. It's probably a lot lighter than the tubing I used, too.

Maybe look around for a custom cabinet or furniture shop? Do the frame plans give you a "cut list" of parts you could just have someone make, then assemble yourself?
 

Michael Beechey

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"is the resonator height fixed per the pitch?" Yes, I guess you could say that. There are formulas (probably on line, on that site maybe) that will tell you how long the resonators need to be, or at least what volumes will work. But I've read about a "correction factor", and decided to wing it.

Cutting the tubes to length was the easiest part! I was surprised, but if you can easily cut a quarter inch at a time (w/chopsaw or what have you) and put a bar over it to test, suddenly you will hear it work when it's right. It's amazingly obvious when it's right.

But supposedly when the temperature varies, the resonators won't be right. Some old keys had a way to vary the height of the entire rack of tubes, depending if you were playing in hot or cold weather. So that might be what the sliders you mentioned are for.

I have no idea whether this applies to vibes with metal bars versus wooden keyed instruments.

I used pvc (1.5" inside diameter, inch and seven eighths outside, so 1/8" thick walls) and it barely fit my arrangement, with an eighth of an inch between tubes. But pvc is cheap and easy to find. I think the pvc you mentioned is thinner - I didn't think of it when I looked into what to use for tubing.

Aluminum tubing would not be too thick, even up in the highest keys where the tubes get very close together on a graduated bar setup, but it might not be an issue. It's probably a lot lighter than the tubing I used, too.

Maybe look around for a custom cabinet or furniture shop? Do the frame plans give you a "cut list" of parts you could just have someone make, then assemble yourself?
thanks!...whats the code on thin wall pvc in your neck of the woods?
 

Ghostin one

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This thread is in the classified ads section. I didn't realize it when I first replied, either. Maybe a moderator can move it?
Might get more/better replies in the general section.

I never see thin wall pvc used for much of anything here, don't know really..
 
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