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Marimba repair advice - Discussions with Peter

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-----Original Message-----
From: Peter
Sent: 25 September 2010
Subject: Marimba repair advice

I am not looking to build a marimba but I did volunteer to recondition the high school band's marimbas and xylophones.

Basically I was planning to re-string them with parachute cord or something similar. Then I thought I should replace the rubber grommets (looking at once I measure for size. I did see the Musser Bar Cord for sale and started to wonder just how critical the parts are.

I watched your video and read some things on your site. Seems pretty basic.

You stated the upper note resonators don't do much? Our vibraphone does seem to lose tone at the upper range.
But I'm just a band dad and have no formal musical training.

My thoughts now are
1) Disassemble
2) Remove and replace all grommets
3) Clean dirt / dust from resonators
4) Replace cord and keys

Any other advice you can offer????


No problems Pete - I'm always happy to help out where I can.

You are correct to say that just washing out the resonators is a good idea along with the basic replacements - there really isn't too much to it at all. The cord you use is not really that critical. Musser uses a two part cord - a bit like some shoelaces with an inner strand and an outer sleeve. This IS better as when the outer sleeve wears through you still have some warning before the inner strands go and leave you with an unplayable instrument. SO expensive though! I usually use "starter cord" the white nylon plaited cord used on lawnmower pull starts or similar. Anything like that about 3.5 to 4.5mm in diameter is about right and should do the job just fine with no sound issues to speak of. You might well be able to save yourself some money on the rubbers as well. I personally buy a couple of meters of rubber tube - the best is "resistance tube" the sort used in exercise machines and by physios etc for light resistance exercises. You just cut this into short little lengths and squeeze them over the bar posts. If you have proper shaped bar posts this will work really well. If the bar posts rely on the rubber for part of their structural shape however - like some of the old Premiers for example - then you are stuck with trying to find genuine replacement parts, or coming up with a whole new strut/barpost system.

The nylon cord can often be repaired quick and easily in a pinch by the way, just by melting the ends together with a lighter!

Jim McCarthy

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answers by Jim MCCarthy - 28/02/2008

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