CD's!!! - To view CDs of artists who use our instruments, Click HereCare of Marimbas
The process of assembly of your new marimbas is straightforward. We have decided to use 6mm bolts, known as 'gutter' bolts. These are 60mm long, and can be bought from most hardware stores. They are fastened with (6mm) wing nuts - also easy to find.
The legs are marked to correspond to the bodies that they belong to. The two inside surfaces are marked with a message that reads something like: ' Soprano Left Leg'. Put these marks together, and the rest becomes fairly obvious. We most often stand the instrument body on end. An assistant holding the leg while you push the bolts in makes the job a lot easier.
Usually we assemble with the heads of the bolts on the outside, which looks better and means that there is less sticking out to catch on passing people, dogs, cows etc. However, it is perfectly acceptable to push the bolts through from the inside, particularly since this makes putting the wing nuts on easier. Always keep these nuts tight.
Turn the box over to put on the other leg and then give the marimba its independence and let it stand on its own four feet. All that remains is to place the keyboard on top. Be aware that the legs have a dowel on the top rail, which locates into a hole on the underside of the ends of the keyboard. This keeps the keyboard from moving around. It is often quite a firm fit, so may require a bit of pressure to get seated.
Marimbas are wooden instruments. Keys are finished with a tough polyurethane varnish, but are still sensitive and must be treated with care. Excessive humidity or getting the notes wet can change the tuning and even damage the keys permanently so keep the instrument out of the rain or away from spilt drinks. Similarly, too much heat can do the same sort of damage. Keys, especially the longer ones on the tenor, baritone and double bass will quickly go out of tune if they are allowed to heat up in direct, strong sunlight, and may stay out of tune or even crack. If at all possible, try to keep the instrument under shade when playing outdoors. It is also advisable to allow the instruments to acclimatise for a few hours after moving to a new place so that the keys can adjust to the new temperatures and humidity.
Using beaters that are too hard can also damage the keys. The best sound from the keys always comes from hitting them in the middle. Hitting nearer the ends will tend to make you want to hit harder to try and get the same sound, and this can break the keys and will cause the supporting strings to wear very quickly.
Should your keys go out of tune, we recommend that you contact us A.M.I. and we can arrange for retuning or repairs. However, if you are feeling confident, you could try it yourself, using the instructions below.
We supply a number of spare o-rings and plastic membranes with the instruments. To replace, place the plastic over the end of the buzzer nipples, and roll the o-ring over to hold it in place. The tightness of the membrane is quite important: generally the lower the note the more floppy the membrane. Experiment with each note to get the best sound for that note.
Buzzer membranes do wear out over time, or fall victim to inquisitive fingers. The speediest way to mass produce them is to cut 2 circles of 70mm diameter out of thick cardboard or even thin wood. Fold up your plastic packets many times (Spar packets work well!) and then place this 'sandwich' between the two discs. Hold them between a finger and thumb and align them carefully with each other. You can now use the edges of the discs to guide a pair of scissors as you cut out 50 buzzer membranes at a time.
This should only be done with a soft, damp cloth. Avoid using solvents. Furniture polish such as Pledge or Woodoc can be used to give additional protection and enhance the appearance.
Marimbas can be disassembled into legs, key frame and resonator box. On the larger instruments (baritone and double bass) it is probably better to leave the legs on. Be careful that you don't lose the bolts and wing nuts! Pack the instruments carefully, making sure that the keyboards especially don't rub against each other. Wrapping everything in old blankets will be the best protection.
Marimbas may be tuned to a natural, just intonation scale in 'Eb' or to the western well tempered tuning in'C'. The instruments produced since the beginning of 2000 have overtone tuning on the lower notes as well. Unless you have the right equipment and are very confident of your ability, it is not advisable to attempt retuning the keys if they are badly out of tune. Slight changes can be made by removing SMALL amounts of wood from the CENTER of the arch under the note to flatten or lower the pitch of the note and by removing wood from the underside of the ENDS of the note to sharpen or raise the pitch of the note. This is probably best done using rough sandpaper. Fortunately notes tend to sharpen over time, as it is far easier to lower the pitch of a note that is too sharp than vice versa.
Marimba notes are supported on 6mm braided polyester chord and are tied onto this using 3mm chord. Over time, particularly if the marimbas are played hard, the support strings may begin to sag. The support string is tightened with a mechanical tensioner, simply by turning the 13mm headed tensioning bolt on the left hand end of the keyboard (ie. Use a 13mm spanner, and turn in a clockwise direction when viewed from above). The string should be stiff enough to resist fairly firm thumb pressure, especially on the lower instruments with bigger notes. It must never be allowed to get to the point where the notes are touching the keyboard frame - this will cause damage to the notes, the frame and will definitely break the string. When tightening, ease the string around the frame as you proceed, so that the tension is even on both sides.
Over time, however, the string may become worn and could even break. Replacement is straightforward, as most hardware stores stock the braided polyester chord in a selection of sizes (we need 6mm and 3mm). The best thing to do is to copy the lacing pattern, so make careful note of this when unlacing the notes or copy from the other marimbas. The tensioner cover plate must be removed to get to the knotted end of the string. The tensioning bolt should also be unwound to its fullest extent so the tensioner is extended when you put it back together. Cut a length of chord by measuring it up against the frame and heat the ends with a match or cigarette lighter to melt the ends and stop them fraying. This also makes it easier to thread it onto the frame. A simple single granny knot will be enough to stop the string pulling through-make sure it is pushed well into the countersunk hole under the tensioner plate so that it is out of the way of the tensioner when you fit the plate back, with the tensioner extended to its fullest. Feed the string through and take up as much slack as possible before tying it onto the tensioner with a couple of knots. Tighten up the bolt with a 13mm spanner as outlined above.
Lacing the notes on is very straightforward, but time - consuming. Start with enough string - about 4 X the length of the frame is a good rule of thumb - and tie it onto the support string before the first note. Just be careful that you don't bind the notes on too tightly - this stops the notes vibrating freely - there should be enough slack to allow the note to be lifted slightly off the support string. Also, keep the notes strictly in order - it is extremely frustrating to have to untie everything again when you finally realise a note is in the wrong place. Once one side is complete, tie off the string and once again melt the ends to stop them fraying.
That's all there is to it. If you run into difficulty with any of these instructions, please call us at: (046) 6226252, or e-mail us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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