Musser M55 Vibraphone repair part 1 (Job no: 1321)


Please don’t misinterpret me – I think that Musser vibraphones are probably the best buy on the market. The sound is good, the frames are simple and (erm) sort of reliable. The problem is Ludwig/Musser, they are just not very good at making stuff. Yeah, yeah they have, or rather shout about having a reputation for making great instruments, but it doesn’t mean that they are well made. The sorry fact is that most of the drums I see by Ludwig are garbage and sound shit and year after year get more cheap and nasty but with a premium price tag. The same is true of the Musser vibe, they used to be amazing, now they are just the best of a bad lot.

Being realistic, there is a state of over-supply in the global vibraphone market. Everyone thinks that they can make percussion instruments and everyone makes a vibe. People or companies appear out of nowhere and disappear just as quick. Even VanderPlas Baileo has gone bankrupt; I don’t know the reasons but I sympathise with Nico who has been making vibes since the new millennium [see amended comments below]. But let me clear, vibraphones are probably the most difficult of the tuned percussion instruments to make.

This Musser vibraphone was bought second-hand, so the historical usage is unknown, but for the last few years the vibe has predominantly been set up and used in a recording studio. The general condition indicates to me that it has gone from a lounge to a studio, it does not show the signs of being dismantled and assembled all the time and banged in and out the back of vehicles. Neither has it been wheeled around the corridors of music conservatoires. Essentially it has an easy life, but like all vibraphones it has lots of creaks and squeaks which is why the player has been brought it in to me.

The plot thickens in part two

Additional Comment
VanderPlas Baileo may well have ceased to exist but instruments designed by Nico VanderPlas are thankfully back in production available from Tal Vibraphones

3 comments on “Musser M55 Vibraphone repair part 1 (Job no: 1321)

  1. Thomas Chabalier


    I have a problem with my m-55 motor and don’t really know what to do. Is there a way to get it fixed somewhere (i’m in Paris, France) or do you have any alternative that could be substituted to a motor? In the end, I’m thinking that it’s just a simple thing rotating around itself, it should be replaceable by something else.

    Thank you by advance!

    All the best,


    • pauljefferies

      Thank you for your comment on this post Thomas.
      There are several ways in which vibe motors can go wrong and the least common is a fault with the motor itself. Although I can supply genuine Musser parts, most of the time there is little point since my sourced alternatives arrive much quicker, are higher specification and cheaper. Additionally it depends on the age of your instrument because the instruments Musser use exactly the same components that I fit without the essential modifications. If your instrument is like this, then each component of the chain can be substituted individually, however if your instrument is older then it will require investigation to determine where the fault lies because it might be something as simple as a blown electrical component. On the M55 it is possible to remove the entire electrical system without opening electrical boxes. This can then be sent to be repaired via the postal service.
      Paul Jefferies


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