MUSAICS REPAIRS SERVICE
Repairs to classroom and concert tuned and non tuned percussion.
This includes re tuning, replacing rubber components, new motors for vibraphones, adjustments etc. to xylophones, marimbas, metallophones, vibraphones, glockenspiels and timpani.
I also offer some repairs to fretted and violin family instruments, and have of late been doing a number of repairs to the electrics of electric guitars. This might involve pickup replacement, or changing between active and passive setups.
I am able to carry out repairs on site. I am able to make replacement bars for most xylophones, vibraphones, marimbas and glockenspiels.
For anyone keen to do their own repairs, or wanting tips on how to look after their classroom instruments, go to my Instrument maintenance and repairpage.
This page describes repairs to various classroom instruments. I am intending to start including common repairs to concert instruments. If you have any questions, please ask.
I have also recently started putting some short videos on you tube to show some common repairs. You can search my name, Bill Vrijens, or Musaics.
My first video introduces Vibraphone Belt Replacement. Please open this in a new tab.
Replacing Rubber tubing on Xylophone and Metallophone Shows how to replace the rubber tubing under the bars of xylophones and metallophones. Please open this in a new tab.
Musaics Bass Xylophone Introduces the Musaics Bass Xylophone currently on sale. Please open this in a new tab.
The following lists some repairs carried out on various tuned percussion instruments.
Repairs to Xylophones, Marimbas, Vibraphones, Glockenspiels, Metallophones
This includes replacing rubber and felt parts, manufacturing frame parts, making and re-tuning bars (or keys).
Many instruments in this category are no longer made, or are just plain difficult to get parts for. I have access to someone with a very comprehensive engineering workshop who is able to make most unobtainable parts.
I have a range of alloys and timbers available to make new bars for most instruments.
This Korogi bass xylophone represents a common repair. This instrument was unplayable due to perished rubbers and broken pins, but was otherwise in sound condition. It is now, despite some character building evidence of extensive use, as good as new.
This was a chromatic extension that has been converted to a diatonic. Retune a few bars, and add a few new bars (which I make) and it's a useful instrument from something that is rarely if ever used. If the original 5 bars are there, it needs an additional 10 bars to include F#'s and Bb bars. The instrument will only go G.
The cost of this conversion is $220. Which of course is around half the price of a new Soprano.
When students just don't get it about taking bars of xylophone so as NOT to bend the pins, there is this option.
This involves attaching a piece of timber, as shown in the photographs. With this in place, the end of the bar pushes on the added piece and levers the bar off without bending the pin. They can't bend it even if they try!
I can't guarantee you'll never replace pins again, as the classroom is a fearsome place, but this will go a long way.
The cost of this modification $30.
This Saito vibraphone was purchased as a frame only, as the bars were missing. The complete set of bars have been
handmade here at Musaics, and anodized to resemble the colour of the original bars.
I can recommend Saito in regards to their parts availability and backup, and the very helpful way they answer emails and attend to specific requests. Successful repairs to school instruments like this depend very much on the availability of parts and assistance from the manufacturers so that an instrument is not out of action for top long. I have also found that American instruments like Musser are well supported. I personally have had no success in getting parts for the English instruments. I know everyone likes their Premier vibe, but no one that I know can get parts for them. Once your rubber components need replacing, your on your own. They don't answer e-mail, don't seem to care past selling you a new instrument, and have yet to understand the meaning of a warrantee.
This Trixon vibraphone was brought in missing the diatonic bars. A new set of bars was made to match the old chromatic ones.
My first entry into polishing metal bars to match existing ones.
This old Leedy Glockenspiel was brought in, missing a few bars, and the case in a sad state. I have made a new case for this instrument, and used a piece of Perspex as the bass to give it that bright sound and a bit more projection. Works great! Bit hard to replicate the sound in the missing bars. Happy to hear from anyone with suggestions as to which steel to use which best replicates the sound of these old Leedy glocks.
Electric Guitar Repairs.
I am able to effect various guitar repairs, including fret work and electrical wiring.
This 6 string bass guitar was rebuilt after I found the body and neck, discarded after it had been raided for parts. I have sourced and added all the hardware. In this case I have installed some MK6 Bartolini pickups and wired them up passively with some type 1 on-on-on switches that allow each pickup to be switched from series-humbucking to single coil to parallel humbucking.
I am also able to add active EQ if required. I personally am not convinced of the need for active circuitry in guitars, as one should be able to achieve those sort of results with an amplifier, or effects pedals.
Resonator guitar Hotplate modification.
I had to try this out after seeing the National Resonator guitar Hotplate modification. Pretty straight forward. Take the cone cover off, fit a pickup and wire in volume, tone and output jack. The most difficult part is making the hole for the pickup. Here I used a friends milling machine, which allowed me very high accuracy.
This one uses a Duncan designed single coil, and sounds pretty reasonable. The National Hotplate uses a Lalor lipstick style pickup. I used this pickup as I had it on hand.
The advantage here is that no mods were required to the rest of the guitar. No cutting holes in the woodwork. To return the guitar to it's former self just replace the cover with a new one. Done in a few minutes. This also puts the pickup in a different position to mounting it in the body, which puts it closer to the neck. In this position its a bit more towards that middle pickup sound, with a little more bite than when fitted in the body closer to the neck.
The cost of this modification is $300.
Premier Vibraphone and Xylophone rubber post insulators.
This rubber peg is used on Premier Vibraphones, and a slightly different version on the Premier xylophone. The one pictured with black tape around it
resembles the state
of many of these pegs on vibraphones around the world. The new one shown simply slips on the metal fitting.
I have currently run out of stock of these. For anyone looking for these, I suggest you contact Paul Jefferies from Orchestral Percussion in the UK.
Unfortunately the quality of Premier's after sales service and parts supply stands in direct contrast to the quality of their instruments. This would have to be the worst company ever for parts availability. Surely if enough people world wide continue to demand some service someone there will one day take notice? I was told by them, when asking about parts for a xylophone many years ago, that surely I could not expect parts for these instruments, as they had stopped making that model (very recently). That to me compares to a company like BMW or Mercedes not making parts available once they stop making a certain model. Imagine how that would go down?
At this time I can say that I have found parts for similar Japanese made instruments readily available. Might cost a bit, but have have good experience in communicating with these companies generally.
Premier Vibraphone damper bar ball joint connector.
This socket is used on Premier Vibraphones to attach the upright arm from the damper pedal to the damper bar.
It is a plastic ball joint. The most common problem is that the plastic ball cracks, and rod won't stay in place. English engineering!
I have now run out of these parts, and the search is on for a small ball joint that can be retrofitted. A metal ball joint should last forever in this situation. >
Japanese Vibraphone and Xylophone rubber post insulators.
The photo on the left shows an old and perished peg rubber (often called Bar Suspension post Insulators) on a Saito Xylophone. The photo on the right shows a new rubber replacement. I suspect that all the the rubbers on these Japanese made vibraphones and xylophones are the same. Need to confirm this though. Saito parts had not been available for a couple of years at time of writing this (August 2019), but I was told this could change.
Speed controlled DC motor for vibraphones
Trying to solve the problem of an affordable small DC speed controlled quiet motor for a vibraphone has been an ongoing project. The photo here shows a motor and pulley setup that was designed to fit onto an old Premier blue frame vibraphone. It uses a very small brushless geared DC motor. The speed control uses a readily available 12 volt Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) device. This worked perfectly, except it is still too noisy. The quest for a brushless low voltage DC motor that is quiet continues. Because of the slow speed required, these motors need to be geared. The gearing causes noise. Brushless DC 3 phase motors may be the answer, but controlling them is tricky, and they still need to be geared.
The aim, which this little motor was able to do, is to have a setup that can be powered by a standard plug pack (wall wart), or batteries, which means the vibraphone is free of any 240 volt safety issues or concerns. Unfortunately it is still to noisy.
This is the first such motor setup I have used with a brushless DC motor, but I have used a similar design with a brushed motor a while ago, which had more noise issues.
Any advise or technical suggestions appreciated.
Repairs to Timpani
Timpani repairs include general servicing, clearing and replacing heads, replacing teflon tape on rims, and general repairs. I am happy to service and repair timpani on site, when possible.
This repair involved replacing parts that had disappeared from the clutch assembly part of the pedal. A simple fix if the parts could be available, but, Premier doesn't believe in supplying parts. They'd rather you buy a new timp!
Having access to a very clever friend with a comprehensive machine shop, I was able to have a replacement made. It was easily fitted.
This Pearl timpano had a worn pedal mechanism. Not much to adjust on these timps, but when they wear they get to a point where you need to replace several parts. Replacing these parts makes these work as good as new. This particular repair cost $220, which included pickup and delivery (it was very close by).
Instruments that use velum heads
Many older instruments of the banjo family do not have standard size heads. Here the only option is to refit a piece of velum to the old hoop. Takes time, but on good quality instruments it's often worth it.
This Windsor Banjo Mandolin was restored. Repairs included replacing the velum head. Older instruments like this one often do not have a rim size that conforms to standard heads available today, so, like the one shown, a raw skin needs to be fitted to the instrument.
A word of warning. There are a number of these sort of instruments around that are being bought by people who want to have them restored so they can be played again. Instruments that are stored away in slightly damp attics or garages often resurface with a number of issues. To replace the velum on a non standard instrument will cost a bit, and banjo mandolins have 8 strings, so that's a bit of tension on an old neck. I have strung up old banjo mandolins after some refurbishment only to see the neck slowly bend to the point where its unplayable. If you are wanting an instrument to play, you may be well advised to just buy a new cheapy rather than that nice old looking instrument with all that old time charm on eBay.
I also provide a range of spare parts for various instruments, as shown below and on the accessories page of this site. This includes various rubber components for various instruments and specific replacement parts.
And of course there are always those odd projects.
This is an instrument not often seen. First time I'd seen them when recently someone sent me an entire set for repairs. They were missing mallet heads, rubbers, many broken handles etc.. One was missing completely.
These instruments are easily dismantled, and if the parts were available, replacing broken parts would be easy. Unfortunately, the English company that makes them completely ignored my emails. Obviously not interested in assisting in this way.
The photo shows the one I made as a replacement.
This project involved converting a standard guitar amplifier quad speaker cabinet into a combination 2 x 12 sealed and 2 x 12 open back speaker cabinet. I know, it's not a tuned percussion instrument, but, well, it was for a friend of mine.