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 firstname.lastname@example.org.