Repair Posts

Vibraphone Maintenance and Common Issues

The vibraphone is one of the most complex instruments in the percussion family due to its many moving parts to make it all work. Unfortunately, the pedal and damper mechanisms are not universal from brand to brand so you will need to give these instruments a more thorough inspection. A majority of the time issues on vibraphones are from the pedal or the damper. Beyond the basic keyboard cleaning tips mentioned you can check for the following issues:

  • Bar Cleaning: Since the vibes have metal bars cleaning them with a dry cloth first and then denatured alcohol or a multi surface cleaner such as Pledge will help remove the built up dirt and grime.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        
  • Broken or Worn String: If you notice some clanking of the bars when playing or some uneven dampening check the string to make sure it is in good condition.  It is best to change the string when you start to notice wear so it doesn’t break when you are in the middle of a performance.                                                                                                                                                                    
  • Pedal Issues: There are often three main concerns when it comes to the vibraphone pedals and they are as follows:
    • Pedal attachment loose from frame. Re-attach with new bolt and nut.
    • Upper Pull Rod gets stripped and won’t hold in place. Replace upper pull rod.
    • Bent upper pull rod that will often need to be replaced.
  • Damper Issues: The damper is the part that actually touches the keys and attaches to the pedal. In general you should look for the following issues on the damper system.
    • Missing or bent compression spring
    • Worn Damper Felt. Over time the keys will wear out the damper felt causing notes to ring when dampened.
    • Uneven dampening of bars. There could be many reasons for this such as uneven felt, uneven bar post that hold the string, or even tightness of the string.  You would likely need to have this looked at by a repair technician to fully diagnose the issue.  
  • Resonators: Take the time to clean out the resonators. Dust, dirt and other particles often collect at the bottom on these and can affect the overall sound of the keyboard.
    • First remove resonators from the keyboard and flip over and lightly tap.
    • Use a long dust brush to remove more dust.
    • On longer resonators you can carefully use a vacuum with hose attachment to help remove the lowest settled particles of dust or dirt.
  • Motor/Fan Issues:  Some common issues involved with the motor not working properly 
    • If you notice an uneven sound between the naturals and accidentals you need to check that the fans are on the same rotation.  (They should spin at the same speed and same angle throughout.  Easy to adjust)
    • Power Supply:  If you plug in and it is not working you likely will need to replace the power cord
    • Belt Issues:  Depending on the model of vibraphone there will be either one or two belts near the motor that attach to the resonators.  Over time these can wear out or snap and will need to be replaced.

With the basic information above you can at least diagnose what the issue might be and even potentially fix it yourself. If you have found the problem but are unsure how to fix it give us a call and we can either talk you through it over the phone or send our service technician out to your school to repair it for you. We can be reached at 317-813-2070 or chops@chopspercussion.com.

Yearly Maintenance Tips: A Comprehensive Guide

As the new year approaches, your program is likely going into the busiest time of year with concert band, solo and ensemble, jazz band and indoor percussion all happening at the same time.  Often times you may not think about taking a little extra time to do a thorough inspection of your gear, but it will go a long way in getting the most out of your investment.

Now is a great time to do some general equipment maintenance and cleaning that can ensure you are ready for the busy months ahead.  Having your students actively participate in this process will help them take pride over equipment that will be used long after they leave your program and can help the process move along faster and seem less overwhelming.

Below are some quick and easy tips for making sure your gear is in top shape to start the new year:

  • Take an inventory of all your equipment at the end of each semester.
  • Clean all equipment using a soft cloth to remove any dirt or grime that has built up over time.  A small amount of diluted rubbing alcohol can help remove major build-up.
  • Inspect your instruments for any missing parts.
  • Check for broken or damaged areas on your equipment that may require repair or replacement.
  • Ensure that all frame bolts, nuts, carrier parts, etc. are at the correct tightness.
  • Cover all instruments daily and keep small instruments stored properly.  Don’t leave equipment on the truck for long periods of time.

For a more exhaustive list of maintenance and specific things to look for you can download the pdf file here:

Chops Percussion Comprehensive Percussion Maintenance Guide

If you are in need of parts or more tips call us today and we can help you get everything you need to make sure you are ready to go for 2021!

What’s Old is New – Getting Rid of Rust

A majority of percussion equipment contains some type of metal that is prone to developing rust after years of wear and tear.  This could be an old snare drum with rusted out lugs, rusty rims and rust on the shell, or an old set of bells that has lost its shine. Don’t let the rust stand in the way of an instrument being used properly and sounding great.  With a little bit of time and some elbow grease you can make those OLD instruments look and sound NEW again.

You can quickly and effectively remove rust on your percussion equipment by following a few steps:

Step 1: Remove parts from the instrument so that all areas can be exposed to cleaning.  Do not try to clean or remove rust with parts still attached the instrument.  For instance, remove all lugs from the drum so they can be cleaned individually and all the way around.

Troubleshooting Common Timpani Issues

 

Common Timpani Issues

 

With the school year well underway, you may start to notice some issues with your timpani after they sat around all summer not being used. Timpani are one of the more misunderstood percussion instruments with regards to function and reparability, but knowing some common issues that occur can give you a better understanding of what to check.

 

            Issue #1 – The Pedals Slip (Won’t stay in position)

 

When the pedal on timpani is not holding either in the high or low position it is more often than not related to the range of the drums.  Over time, the heads continue to stretch and can cause the drums to become out of range and thus not allowing spring and head to be balanced with tension.  This is the first thing to check if you have pedal issues.  You should check that the lowest note on each drum is correct as seen below:

 

 

If the pedal slips forward from the lowest position, it likely means that the drum is too low and needs to be brought up to the correct low note.  Holding the pedal in the heel down (low position) make small adjustments to each tension rod until you have the lowest note.

 

If the pedal is moving back from the upper position, it likely means you need to add a little bit of tension to the spring.  However, it is important to check the low note and make sure you have this first.  If the low note is correct, adjust the spring.

 

 

Issue #2 – The Pedal is Hard to Move or is Stuck

 

This can be caused by many things, but the first thing to check is that nothing appears to be broken or snapped as this can cause things to stop working completely.  More than likely, the balance between the head and spring are not correct so checking these first is a good idea.  Other things to check would be the braking systems being to tight and thus not allowing the pedals to move freely.  On Ludwig drums this can be found under the pedal while on Yamaha drums this is often found near the center under the bowl.

 

            Issue #3 – The Drums Won’t Stay in Tune

 

If you are having issues with the drums constantly going low after tuning them up it likely means you are in need of a head change.  Timpani heads should be changed every one to two years depending on your daily usage.

 

If you just changed the heads recently and they just don’t sound great or don’t seem to hold a pitch well they likely need to be cleared and tuned up by a professional.  Since the process of clearing and getting timpani in tune with themselves can be tricky it is best to have someone familiar with the process check out the drums.

 

If you notice something that is not listed here, it is likely something that will need to be inspected and serviced by a professional repair technician. You may find yourself understanding what the cause of the issue may be but not confident in fixing the issue.  Give us a call at 317-813-2070 and we can make a visit to your school to ensure your timpani are in top working condition.

 

Brian Travelsted

Percussion Repair Technician

brian@chopspercussion.com

 

 

 

 

July 2019 News at Chops

Marching Snare Head Feature: Remo Suede Max

We get many calls this time of year regarding snare head choices. There are many tried and true products out there, but there is one newer option that is quickly becoming the choice of marching groups everywhere: the Remo Suede Max batter head.

[Learn more]


It’s Vintage: Restoring a Ludwig Drum Set

If you are in the market for some new percussion gear for your upcoming marching band season, now is the time to take advantage of these great prices. Cap City Indoor used the gear this past indoor season, the gear is in great shape, and we just reduced the prices.

[Learn more]


Product Spotlight: Tama’s Dyna-Sync Bass Drum Pedals

We’re excited to talk about Tama’s brand new Dyna-Sync bass drum pedals. These pedals were unveiled at Winter NAMM this past January, and there was a lot of buzz surrounding them. I can tell you after putting my own foot on one the buzz was deserved!

[Learn more]