There have been many versions of cymbal cradles over the years. What happens is that a fabricator is given an example to copy, they then modify the design to suit their tooling and style of work. All the old style cymbal cradles have disappear into the ether, so when a new fabricator is needed, the process is repeated with the latest version. It is like chinese whispers and is exactly what has happened with this job!
The cymbal cradles that are available commercially work OK but don’t fit the specifications of my customer. So I have been asked to reproduce some from their existing cradles. Of course I want to make the best product possible, which means listening to what problems musicians experience and coming up with solutions.
The first part of a project like this is to define a starting point from which subsequent alterations can be made. I find that the best way to do this is to make up some jigs so the parts can be replicated consistently.
The prototype will now be put out for testing. When it comes back I will probably have to modify the jigs and make a second prototype which in turn will need to be tested.
The beginning of this post is 1241: Bell Frame (pt 1) which covers most of the work that was done. Whilst the metal work was away being powder coated, the board was finished and varnished. What I end up with, is a whole pile of bits to be reassembled on various instruments.
I was asked about the strength of the hinge and the boards flexing under body weight in a comment on (part one). The main bar around which the whole step rotates supports the front edge of the forward board, and there is a steel brace to support the outer edge of that forward step.
The new extension board has braces running across the width of the board both fore and aft. These braces also provide the pivot points around which the legs rotate.
Below is a short video showing how it all works.
This is a height adjustable bell frame with an integral step that I made a couple of years ago. The concept was brought to me by a musician for me to design and realise. It has come back to have a modification made.
The problem is the depth of the step; the playing position is too close to the bells. The only practical solution is for me to replace the solid board with two halves that open out like a book.
Now that I am satisfied that it will work, and more importantly, will solve the problem, I need to make some legs. Unfortunately I will need four legs so that it is a free standing unit; I don’t like the idea of standing on something with two legs and relying on the hinges to hold the other end.
Above shows the four legs made, and work has begun on the diagonal braces.
The new step made and tested – I jump on it as hard as I can.
Like all of my frames, I make them as simple to use as possible. One wing screw needs to be undone to fold the legs in.
The same wing screw now goes back, and holds the whole assembly in place for transportation.
The story continues in 1241: Bell Frame (pt 2)
Many, many years ago, just after leaving college and whilst working for Impact Percussion, I made a couple of their frames for 1″ chimes.
I have been asked to make something similar. This is a good opportunity for me to revisit the whole concept, and make it how it should have been made in the first instance.
There are fundamental design issues that are easy to address, and repairs that I have had to make to the other frame’s components that I can just make properly in the first instance. However there is one issue that really needs to dramatically change.
The way the bells hang over the bar makes them difficult to play without hitting the bar. Pretty obvious really, another example of a schoolboy error, and an example of just why I had to set up by myself all those years ago. When working for a boss, they have to be pleased first, before the customer. Working for myself, besides my own job satisfaction, ultimately it is my customers who have to pleased.
So, the first stage is to get drawing to see how much room I have to play with, then make a mock up to see if my ideas work.
On my larger frames, where I have more room between bells, I used replaceable bell hangers because they are prone to be damaged and are difficult (therefore expensive) to repair. The gap between the bells are too narrow on this frame, so I am having to use the more traditional hook. These hooks enable the bells to sit higher than the bar to solve the main complaint.
There are differences to my approach however. Everyone else goes down the path of least resistance, and just uses a flat bit of metal to mount the hooks on. The problem is that they bend very easily, which causes all sorts of problems. I have used right angled metal to give rigidity in both planes, however due to the space restrictions I have scalloped out a section around the bell.
Now I know the design will work, I can start making all the components.
I was asked to make a pair of tam tam frames, so after going to the venue to measure the instruments and the environment where they are to be used (stage risers, door width, etc) I’m ready to start.
The design they want is really simple, two big square frames on wheels, so first I cut all the material to make two big squares.
Which were welded together, the pile of offcuts in the photo above were used as little braces to add strength and rigidity to the corners of what are two very big free standing square frames. Everything I make is guaranteed for the rest of my life; these subtle additions to designs is how and why I have the confidence to do that.
There are subtleties that no one will ever see; the bottom of the square is stronger than the top, which is in turn stronger than the sides, this keeps the weight down, without losing structural integrity where it is needed.
The tam tams have to hang from something, and they have varying diameters and cord lengths, so I make more hooks to hang them from,
and weld them into place.
The last part of fabrication is to make the subframe that has the wheels, and clean it all up. Then it drop them down to the powder coaters.
Invariably, when I get stuff back from the powder coaters, then the rebuilding of the instrument starts which can be a lengthy process. It is a nice break therefore to get frames back that just need the casters bolted on, and they are ready for delivery. Job done.