dennis & the vibraphonette

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Broke Belt Mountain

When I bought the vibraphonette a few years ago I had to buy the belts for the 3 pulleys. This was not an easy task. I had rubber bands to make sure everything worked, but I was having a hard time choosing what to use on a regular basis. I finally settled on vcr belts. I measured around the pulleys and went down to the local old-school TV/VCR repair shop. The guy there had to sift through all their belts to come up with something that matched. He didn't seem to completely enjoy the task. I took them home and tried to put them on but they were too big! So I trotted back down to the shop to plead my case in the hopes he would look again. With a disapproving look he took the 3 belts and came up with 3 smaller ones. As I was leaving he told me that if these didn't fit - don't come back!

Fast forward to present day. A few weeks ago, in the middle of a rehearsal with Catherine (of the band Coraline) the pulleys that turn to make the 'wah-wah' sound were not turning! I could still hear the motor so I figured that it was a broken belt. I took it half-way apart and found the broken belt inside. It was the belt that went from the motor to the middle pulley that turns the two 'wah-wah' pulleys.

My friend Gary said that I used to have a vibraphonette - now I just have a phonette. Funny.

I thought, "Great! I'll get to see what the fellows in the old TV/VCR shop are up to." So I trotted down 5th Ave with the broken belt in hand. I actually knew the size this time! But, alas, as I approached the storefront, the door was open but the gates were halfway down and a construction guy was carrying out some rubble from the demolition! Ouch! I'll miss those guys.

Luckily, I had a few options. Joe (who saved the day with the vibraphonette handle) said he had an O-ring maker. Also, there was another old-school TV/VCR shop not too far away. The guy at this shop seemed a bit more cheery that he had to find a vcr belt to match. Maybe it was because I had the old belt that I knew worked - or maybe it was a slow day at the shop. I think these VCR repair shops are a dying breed. He found one and as I paid for it he asked what kind of vcr I had. I said it was for a musical instrument. He looked unimpressed. I think I'm going to go back and buy a few more (incase that shop closes, too) and maybe I'll bring a video of the vibraphonette in action. That will bring him around!

The vibraphonette had not been taken apart in a while, so when I took it fully apart, I found some dust and some more broken hard, black pieces - I think from the bell separators. I cleaned it up a bit and took some pictures as I was putting the new belt on, and put it back together. After looking at the pictures, I think I need to do a better cleaning!

Well, everything is working once again so my phonette has turned back into a vibraphonette. -Whew!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Yet Another New Vibrphonette Owner

Michigan has recently seen a transfer of a vibraphonette in great shape. A beauty. Two readers of this blog were able to connect and make the deal happen. The seller, Angie, wanted it to get into good hands. It seems it was given to her family and she has had it for a while.

Another friend of the blog, Adam, raced over to take a look, bought it, and then sent over these pictures. Thanks, Adam! He says he's already played it in a recording session and it sounded great. He was looking for a schematic so if anyone has any ideas, please let's us know!

Monday, February 12, 2007

New Vibraphonette Owner

There's been a rash of vibrphonette sales recently! It took me several years to find mine, but there have been 2 sold in the last week! There was the one from Ebay (pictured) that sold for around $950. The highest selling price that I've seen so far. I believe the supply and demand is starting to take hold. Or the new owner really, really wanted one. It's really a rare and incredible instrument to have, so I think it's worth it. From what I can tell this one was sold to a fellow in Texas. It seemed to be missing a few parts, but it looks like they have a work-a-round to keep it in working order.

The ad mentioned that the motor was "quiet quiet" (it said it twice). I would love my motor to be quiet quiet. Mine is just quiet enough for one 'quiet.' I hope the new owner will get in touch and keep us updated!

In fact, maybe we should start getting some information together from all the vibraphonettes we can. If you are the proud owner of a vibraphonette, please send your story and a picture. And maybe your serial number. I'll see if I can organize them. And if someone has a schematic - whoa! That would just be an incredible thing.

Congrats to the new owner!