This little item has been causing issues for a long time now! It is the rubber note peg cap off a Premier 751 vibraphone, but it has been used on several generations of Premier’s vibraphones. Of course Premier stopped producing the 751 and the 701 vibes a long time ago now; it was probably around 2008 when Premier asked me to come and relieve them of all their obsolete spare parts which had been hanging around in their factory for years.
The root cause of the problem with these note peg caps is difficult to avoid; rubber degrades in light and air. Ultra violet light, but mainly Ozone that are main the culprits, so the only way for you to prolong the life of them on your vibraphone is to remove these two factors. So from now on practice in the pitch black within a vacuum; I hear that NASA have space suits going cheap now they are being undercut by China.
Back in 2008 I also obtained access to Premier’s tooling for injection moulding these parts. I dutifully went off and requested quotes from rubber moulding companies to have some made up. The received quotations were ridiculously high, with the quantities ridiculously large that I just could never see a time when I could afford the £47,000+VAT to have 20,000 made. Obviously they did not want to make them using the old moulds, and new moulds would also be too expensive, so a non commercially produced method for making the parts had to be developed.
My solution was to use a two part synthetic “rubber” that can be mixed and injected by hand into a mould. This brought the required investment down to around £1000, which is still a lot of money in my world! Along with the financial investment into tools and materials, I have also had to invest a lot of time in learning how to use them.
This whole project has, in reality, been a massive spanner in the works – whole days would be lost producing a pattern or some “bit” I needed, only to discover the next day that it wouldn’t work. This continuous distraction has been the reason for my absence! Below is a highly condensed video of how I went about it.
Having finally made a sufficient number moulds for me to replace all the pegs on a vibraphone, I had eventually got to the position when I could completely use up the two pots of gunk I will use when making up the kits and thus discover whether my idea is actually cost effective. Because the original note pegs cost £3.75 each, but are sold (by me) singly due to their scarcity, I certainly want my replacements to be cheaper than this, but what I really want is to get a whole instrument done for less than £200, which is a unit cost of £2.25. The material costs for one pair of pots are currently £19, so I had to form more than 6 to beat the cost of the original spares, and more than 8 to achieve my target. In reality I got 20 note pegs reproduced out of one pair of pots which is fantastic, so the main costs associated with the job, will be the moulds.
Replacement Kit for Premier 750 series Note Peg Caps.
Initial Kit at currently £60 contains: 2 moulds, 1 x 50ml part A (black), 1 x 50ml part B (white), 10 mixing pots, 10 x 5ml syringes, 20 tea spoons, 20 nitrile gloves, 5 cocktail sticks, 2 Kebab skewer.
Refill kit at currently £20 contains the same minus the two moulds.
Below is an instructional video on how to use the kit from preparation to completion.