An expensive and time consuming repair that cost me more to do than I charged, but the decision to take on the job was for reasons of my sanity; I was beginning to be lethargic due to inaction and that was making me feel apathetic and in that direction lies depression and other mental health issues; so I took action and created something of which I am proud and I sincerely hope that it continues to give joy to future generations of little percussionists.
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.
Everything that is recyclable is recycled in my workshop wherever possible. This includes Musser vibraphone frames, which are made from tin foil. Although not suitable for cooking food there are lots of other uses for old tin foil, imagination is the only limiting factor. But then I am a product of my generation who grew up watching a very limited selection of kids TV including Blue Peter which failed to transform my then wayward life unlike Tony Hart who was a genius.
Farmers weekly states that the mental health of farmers is below the intergalactic average due to the boring nature of driving tractors around the same fields year after year. They go on to state that music has proved itself to be the best cure for psychological well being as well as improving fertility. They conclude that the best instruments to learn are percussion because you just hit ’em, plus Musser make stuff that you can easily convert for towing behind your Massive Ferguson.
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!