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Percussion instrument maintenance - (Questions from Nancy)

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-----Original Message-----
From: "Nancy"
Sent: Tuesday, March 04, 2003 9:00 AM
Subject: Just wondering
Maybe you could suggest something for me. I'm a volunteer in our high School field band. As with many schools our budget is very tight, so many of our instruments are used, and some in not such good condition. They play ok, but are rather unsightly. In particular, our xylophone. I'm sure I can just repaint the frame, but how can I restore the bars? At some point there must have been stickers on them and the glue is hard and really dried on. Also the finish is in need of repair. We work on a lot of the props for the band, and have built several carts for various instruments, but have never attempted to rejuvenate any instruments. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Maybe that's something best left to the experts? Thanks for your time, Nancy.

Dear Nancy

You could paint the frame of the xylophone - or even better if you have the resources send it to a powdercoater and get it powdercoated if it is a metal frame. You can get the resonators looking good again. Depends a bit on what they are made of. Most instruments I use have PVC pipe resonators, and can just be spraypainted. There are some really good-looking metallic spray paints on the market now. It's not a bad idea to take your resonators out onto the lawn and really wash them out with a high-pressure hose.

Unfortunately the bars are the most important, and just about anything you do to them is likely to put them out of tune. Depends a bit on whether they are timber bars or kelon bars. If they are timber, and have not had any kind of polyurethane coating, then your best bet is to rub them back with some timber oil - like Marveer or something similar.

Any of your instruments - drums and hardware and such - that have chrome work can be cleaned using metal polish. I have found by far the best is Autosol - get it from your Auto accessories shop. Then use a silicone based polish to keep it moisture proof and clean - something like Mr Sheen. That's what a lot of the drum shops use.

Various instruments have things you can easily do if you are willing to invest some time. If you like - let me know what specific instrument you are wanting to work on, and I'll see what things I can think of.

Jim McCarthy

Jim Reccomends for comprehensive blueprints and building guides to make your own marimbas.

answers by Jim MCCarthy - 04/03/2003

For more help on instrument maintenance you can email Jim.

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