Instrument Repair

The majority of my time is spent servicing, repairing and modifying percussion instruments. The posts below demonstrate the diversity of instruments that I work on and my approach to the job.

Premier 701 Vibraphone Overhaul (Job No: 1351)

This is the second of the three Premier 701 vibraphones that I am simultaneously working on and is therefore episode two in the, “aging Premier vibes” mini series.

The most obvious aesthetic difference of this vibe (which is the oldest) compared to the other two is that the resonators were still polishing, the motor unit has changed from the push/pull rod speed change to a three stage pulley. The external note rails are polished, but the inner two are painted. However the rest of the components are from the original patterns: black balls in the damper bar, white end pegs, and chunky fanshaft bushes.

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Premier 701 Vibraphone Repair (Job No: 1354)

This is the first part of mini series, “Aging Premier Vibes”.

I have three Premier 701 vibraphones in for repair, so I have taken the opportunity to look at the development of vibe as well as discussing the repairs.

Premier updated the 700 series vibraphone to the 701 series in 1963. There is no further differentiation in terms of model and serial numbers to go on to help determine the age of an instrument. Old spare parts manuals do provide a guide and put a time period around the type of motor used. However the problem is that Premier went through a development period where several different systems were employed, more than listed in the parts manuals.

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Premier Fibreglass Timpani (Job No: 1283)

Premier Percussion have been making their timpani with glass fibre bowls for a long time now. The actual production method has varied both with developments of available materials and with expertise. However one issue constantly raises its head – empty cavities around the bearing edge often leading to osmosis. These cavities are discovered when the bearing edge collapses, so obviously need to be repaired.

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Premier Fibreglass timpani repair (Job No: 1357)

Aluminium is soft making it very easy to scratch. It is a horrible material to work with because it is so soft it clogs up all your saw blades, files and abrasives like treacle tart. Most timpani chassis are made aluminium castings because it is also lightweight.

Commonly timpani use 3 points of contact with the floor (so they don’t wobble), with two wheels at the back and the pedal at the front, with the aluminium casting under the pedal sitting on the floor. As the drums are moved around, the aluminium foot at the front suffers from abrasion until they are completely worn away. This is a problem that I often have to resolve, but the biggest “problem” is reversing the shit solutions that other people have created to repair them!

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Premier Xylophone Completion (part 2) (Job No: 1291)

The vast majority of the work involved in modifying this xylophone has obviously been done prior to painting. However there are a few bits that need to be sorted out during the final rebuild.

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Musser M55 Vibraphone (Part 3) (Job No: 1321)

Sometimes when I am working on instruments and nearly always when fixing vibraphones, I discover one problem after another. This is one of those instruments where every moving part had to be remade.

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Premier Xylophone Modification (Job No: 1291)

Sometimes it is nice to work on two identical instruments side by side. However, the job that I have to do on this Premier xylophone is completely different to the other Premier xylo I am working on.
On this xylophone I have to retain the portability and the height adjustment whilst increasing strength and making it easy to use.

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