I'm going to be buying a vibraphone and set up some pickups on the keys. I am looking at a Deagan 512 on sale for $1,900. I am also looking at a 3-octabe Leedy from somewhere between 1929 and WWII (not much info given) for $1,800. The thing is the Deagan seller will only do local pickup and he lives in Wisconsin (I am currently in California, but am willing to arrange something). The Leedy is in Redwood City, CA which is much closer to me. I have heard good things about Deagans and have not heard of Leedy at all. I'm assuming that it is an old company that has went out of business. I am leaning towards the Deagan as it seems to be a more reliable purchase. Any help would be appreciated, especially if someone has experience playing a Deagan or Leedy, especially the Deagan 512. Thanks!
John Keene Thu, 01/15/2015 - 15:05
I might be able to help out a little bit.
I went to your info page where you indicated that your preference was a two-mallet grip, and that would make the 512 a good choice. If you'd like to hear one, go to YouTube and listen to some live video of Sons of Champlin; their vibes player (Geoff Palmer) plays the 512 Performer.
The 512 has reduced-sized bars at the low end, and that could be a problem if you play four-mallets. However, the overall tone is excellent, and Deagans in general have more of that funky and bluesy sound to them (for reasons I don't understand, but it is what it is). Pickups would flesh out that lower octave.
Be sure to get a really good amp with enough wattage so you don't get distortion, and there are several recommendations here at the site.
[Added later]: You might want to take a look at the Deagan 515 Electravibe on ebay right now. It's a better price, and possibly closer to check out before buying. It does weigh a lot, but appears to be in good condition.