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Steve Weiss Mallet Workshop

 

Hey all,

I'm a new member here, enjoying the site so far. I have been the proud owner of a well-worn Musser One-Niter for almost a decade (the instrument is probably 30-40 years old at this point). The tone and sustain are actually really good after replacing the felt dampening strip and suspension cords, and with the right mallets (which are the Gary Burton model for me). The intonation is good, there are a few bars that have character.

I'm about ready to buy a new vibraphone and have been shopping around. My experience is that the Musser M55's have always been great to play on in the various music schools I've attended including my alma mater Berklee College of Music. I noticed that most of the M55's they have are fitted with silver matte bars. There were a few vibraphones that were gold with the glossy finish. I really like the feel of the smooth bars, especially for mallet dampening, but prefer the look of the silver and am looking for the warmest possible sound. My One-Niter bars are smooth, but I have reached out to and gotten responses from Sweetwater and Steve Weiss Percussion saying that they offer the silver in matte, no guarantee on a smooth finish yet.

Has anyone had luck ordering a newer Musser with smooth silver bars? I'm planning on ordering bars tuned to A=440hz, which is more or less a custom order at this point, so I'm hoping they can make smooth silver bars.

What are your experiences and opinions on the texture of the bars, gold versus silver, and tuning for that matter. I live in the states and have no plans to travel internationally with my bars.

Opinions on other models besides Musser are welcome.

Comments

tonymiceli Sat, 03/05/2022 - 11:44

well...... as far as recommmendations: where you do live? you should go to the malletech factory and play on an omega. IMHO.

do you really feel a difference dampening with glossy or matte bars? (with your eyes closed and you don't know what's what).

https://malletech.com/instrument/omegavibe/
check out the malletech. I think they are all glossy and the colors are beautiful, (if you're into the colors).

You might know this already but Dave Stockton is the guy to talk to at Steve Weiss. Maybe he can help you get what you want.

cpet Sat, 03/05/2022 - 13:20

Thanks for your response!

I live in the United States, in Salt Lake City, Utah. It's been a while since I had access to two different vibraphones with the different bar finishes, but I remember noticing a difference, in the dampening but also the matte bars tend to have more mallet noise on the attack, where the attack on the glossy/smooth bars was a little more pure. There were pros and cons to each.

I'm not really into the colors, I like the more traditional look of the silver Mussers. I have no experience with Malletech but I will check them out. I don't love the visual design of the Malletechs I've seen, but obviously sound and durability are more important. I've been impressed with how my One-Niter has held up, and frame noise hasn't been an issue so I'm a little more biased towards the Mussers.

Randy_Sutin Sat, 03/05/2022 - 18:55

Yes, I can tell the difference with my eyes closed and I definitely prefer the glossy for dampening. I dislike the little zing I hear on the matte finish, especially on recordings.

That said… I’m also with Tony.

Unless you’re looking at a refurbished axe, give Malletech a shot. Right now, it’s safe to say that nobody else is taking as much care with their bars. They may even do a glossy finish on special request.

…unless you have a lot of money and don’t really need a portable axe. If that is the case, also consider a DeMorrow.

rogersvibes Sun, 03/06/2022 - 18:18

Is Malletech not doing the tunable resonators on the standard model anymore? I noticed that only comes on the "Pro" model now. I remember that being one of the biggest selling points when it first came out. Maybe a production issue?

As for matte vs. glossy, I have noticed a difference too. My newer M55 has the matte finish, whereas my older M75 has glossy. I used to think the difference in age was the main factor. But maybe it's actually the finish. Anyone know why Musser stopped making glossy bars? I think Yamaha offers both. I do like the color options on the Malletech. But I think I would still go with the classic gold or silver.

tonymiceli Tue, 05/24/2022 - 14:26

In reply to by rogersvibes

they just made a more inexpensive model and moved it in front of the pro model.

but most people don't need tunable resonators IMHO. I have had quite a few Omegas and rarely have I tuned a bar.

IndianaGlen Tue, 03/08/2022 - 17:12

This is rehashing some of the comments above, but here's my 2 cents: I've seen a lot of discussion about glossy vs matte bars especially on Yamaha vibes since they still offer both matte and glossy bars so A/B comparisons are good. To my ears and the general consensus is that glossy bars are brighter sounding than matte bars. Although I've never done it I'd be willing to put a $20 bet that I could tell the difference between glossy and matte bars by feel and sound with my mallets. My guess is the reason Musser doesn't do gloss bars is it's a lot quicker and easier to manufacture brushed bars than it is to polish the bars so gloss anodization actually looks, um glossy. The only glossy Musser bars I've encountered (and I have a set on my circa 1945 M-75 Century). Those bars are painted (lacquer), they are not anodized. I have been told by a reliable source my gold lacquered bars have a brighter "Deagan" sound by someone who heard them in person (an esteemed VW member //feel free to fess up if you remember).

Anodization is a lot more durable, much harder, and more difficult to scratch/chip/etc. vs painting. It seems like in the last 5-10 years that the Musser bars finish is even rougher than they used to be btw.

Gold bars on the Musser can be had on the M-55G and M48G models (and others). My personal preference has always been matte bars, to my ears they have a darker more earthy sound. But that's just me.

Musser could be experimenting with other colors, based on this youtube post by Jerry Tachior; his bars are blue. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y7p7tYqEF7g

Stream of consciousness ended; for now.

IG

I agree with the comments above. If you want to go smooth above all else on a new ax, Malletech or Yamaha would be the way to go. If you want a smooth bar Musser, you're going to have to find some really old bars. I've heard that some people don't like the shiny bars on stage because they can reflect light.

Jerry Weir Mon, 05/02/2022 - 11:37

This thread is a couple of months old so you may have already found what you are looking for.

You mentioned that you are in Utah. There is a company called Marimba One in Arcata, CA that is relatively close to you. I received my new VibeOne about 6 weeks ago and think that it is the best vibraphone I have ever owned. I am enjoying playing it so much! While it won't satisfy your glossy bar yearnings I would say don't give it any more thought. Any difference is, to me, minimal and not really worth spending much time to pursue. I had the same obsession once upon a time but let it go.

My new Vibe One is A=440 with gold matte bars. I never even asked about glossy bars - but you could ask! Hey, you never know!

Regards, Jerry