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Can someone offer any advice on packing a vibraphone for shipping within the U.S.

I am selling a Musser M-75 vibraphone and live in Florida. I have had a couple of inquiries from out-of-state - and out-of-driving distance. I have never attempted to package up a vibraphone for shipping myself. I did buy an Omega vibraphone once and it was shipped to me in a box which was, of course, designed to hold that instrument.

I thought I had read threads on VWS before about this but only found one about a player going to Brazil. Gary mentions UPS in a response and I will check them out. Any other suggestions?

Regards all, Jerry Weir


pcheckel Wed, 02/12/2020 - 11:06

Jerry - I guess not too many of us have shipped a vibraphone! The only hint I found was using well padded bicycle shipping boxes for the frame and resonators - maybe picking up the boxes for free at a bike shop. The bars should be fairly straight forward - I have shipped mine for tuning just in a rugged cardboard box. Good luck! Please post how you did it (and how much it cost)...if you do ship it.

IndianaGlen Fri, 02/14/2020 - 15:36

Just some random thoughts/suggestions, your mileage will vary. I've never shipped a complete M75, but I have shipped parts and I've transported many. Last summer I packed and transported a Musser 4.3 octave marimba 2200 miles in a Nissan Altima, without incident.

1) Moving Blankets from Harbor Freight or Lowes they are cheap and work great.
2) Secure the blankets with stretch packing wrap. I use the stuff that has a handle and is about 5" wide, use a LOT. It sticks to itself and it's better than tape.
3) The front resonators are the biggest hassle, use some extra padding around the pulley's on both resonators, they bend easily in shipping.
4) On an M75 the middle bar damper assembly will be easier to pack if you remove the two bolts that hold the harp looking thing to the post. Mark with some dots using a sharpie so it can be easily put back together
5) The motor on the short end sticks out and is a hassle to pack around. If the shipper and receiver are handy with tools you can remove the 3-4 nuts and slide off the board that holds the motor and controller assembly; however, it can be a little tricky and the mounting bolts will still stick out unless you remove them (i.e. it may be more trouble than it's worth and if it's an Old M75 the wiring is likely to be fragile too).
6) The metal brackets that the damper pole slides into on the ends can poke through and scratch. A little extra padding like a kitchen towel is good on those spots.
7) The rails seem like they easily stack together, but the metal connectors/rail spacers stick up and if you don't put a layer of material between the rails you'll scratch them. A good way is to roll up the rails one full wrap at a time in a shipping blanket so there's material between each rail.
8) The mounting brackets on the damper (felt part) bend easy, they need to be protected somehow.
9) Large beach towels work great for bars. A small rolling suitcase from goodwill is a great bar container, so does a large duffel bag, If you're going to put it into a box.
10) Check to see if you can see the numbers 1-4 on the rails, if they are hard to read you can mark them with some low stick masking tape so the new person can easily put them in the right place.

11) print out this link, for assembly instructions for the new owner. (or point him/her to the link)

Finally. Take a good hard look and take pictures of it set up. Check out the motor and resonator fans to see how they are spinning or wobbling, and note any scratches or dings so you you'll know if something happened in shipping or if it was existing. Get ready for a heart attack when you find out what shipping will cost.


Jerry Weir Mon, 02/24/2020 - 22:13

In reply to by IndianaGlen

IG, thanks for that very detailed rundown. Right on all counts. It occurred to me that pictures are important for 3 reasons. 1) to show a possible newbie owner how to put the thing together, 2) to show the condition when it was shipped, and 3) in case an insurance claim is needed for a mangled instrument.

Thanks for the link - I've never seen those before. I have the parts PDF but this setup manual is like stepping back in time.

Regards, Jerry

tonymiceli Sun, 02/23/2020 - 13:29

You know, I wonder if you could call musser and buy empty boxes off of them and have them ship them to you. Not sure about the price.

Besides that I know their are shipping companies that will take the instrument and pack it and ship it. I did that with an instrument going to Korea.

Jerry Weir Mon, 02/24/2020 - 22:09

Thank you all for some excellent suggestions. Sorry to be so slow with a response - been working on the taxes.

I think bike boxes are key and between pcheckel's boxes and Indiana Glen's excellent rundown of details I think it can be done. I am leary of cardboard but when I got my Omega a few years ago it came in cardboard boxes.

Unfortunately, since I posted this question neither long distance buyer has come through but I think that I will probably end up with a shipping situation so these answers are really helpful.

Thanks all, Jerry

rogersvibes Mon, 02/24/2020 - 23:13

When I got my M75 it arrived in boxes from NYC. I believe the shipper did use bike boxes. I bought it from Jonathan, who sells percussion instruments on facebook. If he is still around, you could ask him for some advice. My instrument arrived in one piece, but I believe the motor was damaged in transit, as I had to get it repaired immediately. I have since moved it across the country twice in a trailer attached to an SUV. One day I'd like to get proper cases for it. But for now, it travels in various large bike bags and a long ski-poles bag for the rails. I can't imagine having to ship it again. Hopefully you can find a local buyer. Good luck!

Edit: I looked up my invoice, and Jonathan charged me $340 for the shipping from NYC to Arizona, where I was living at the time.