Things lead on, one from another. As a result of doing the Scrapheap Orchestra television documentary I was approached to do the Smart Meter project, this in turn led onto being asked to do this project and the next project The Northern Lights. All of these projects I have yet to write the posts for, maybe one… Read more »
According to references [Groves dictionary of musical instruments I think] the number of instruments in the percussion family exceed six hundred. In reality most of the instruments will be closely related and very rare. Furthermore the standard orchestral range of instruments is smaller still. Even so, I work on a broad variety of instruments, and yet I am still asked if I repair guitars or whatever. My brain can hardly cope with all the knowledge associated with my own specialism without taking on other sections of instruments, I will leave those instruments for those instrument makers!
So to demonstrate the diversity of what I do do [hehe], below are all the posts I have written, in chronological, order starting with the two latest (which are featured on the home page) and going backwards into the depths of time.
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.
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.
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.
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!
There are several manufacturers of timpani, but here in the UK Premier drums are the most common. So whilst I had a set in the workshop I thought it would be a good idea to continue my series of buying guides.
The drums in the video have glass fibre bowls, but the same things to look out for will apply to drums with copper bowls.