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Bar Problem Case Studies

Several Damaged Bars in a Xylo-Marimba

Several bars had sufficient damage leading to everything from total breakage to cracks, buzzing, to being total dead or lacking ring time.

Remedy:  Fabricate new replacement bars.

Bar Cracked in Half
Only extreme physical abuse can lead to a bar that is cracked in half.

Several Bars had been damaged in this Xylo Marimba
Numerous bars had several problems making it impossible to fix by a simple re-tuning.

New bar blanks were created for replacement bars
The obvious option was to replace those bars that were beyond repair.
Replaced Bars to create a fully functional Xylo Marimba
A fully functional and in-tune bar set.  Insturment owner was not concerned with different color of the replaced bars.

Extreme Splintering of corner edges of xylophone bars
Splintering is  a common occurance in wooden xylophones.  Especially in schools, xylophones tend to be exposed to the endless glissando scenario in which hard mallets are dragged back and forth causing the wood grain to splinter. 

Due to severe loss of sustain, a new bar was fabricated.

Bar Edge Splintering
Corner edge of xylo bar has extreme splintering.
New Replacement Bar
The splintered bar was flat of pitch and an attempt was made to restore and sharpen its pitch.  However, due to the amount of physical damage, the sustain of the bar was compromised so much that it no longer had the sustain or ring time consistent with its neighboring notes.  A new replacement bar was the obvious solution.

Sun Bleaching Ruins Marimba Bar Finish

Extreme outdoor exposure to the sun had caused the bar finish of a marimba to bleach-out to an ugly gray.

Top of bar surface was sanded until virgin wood was exposed.

NOTE: This was an extreme repair.  So much of the top surface was removed that it greatly flattened the pitch of each bar. Although tuning was successful, a lot of additional bar material had to be removed in the pitch sharpening process.  The customer was cautioned that the sanding had thinned and weakened all bars to a point where they might not hold the tune (and could easily flatten) if the marimba was played too vigorously.
Sun Bleached Marimba Bar Set - Before
Sun bleached marimba bar set.

Before Sanding

During Sanding
After Sanding
[Top] Sun-bleached surface
[Middle] During sanding
[Bottom] After Sanding
Sun Bleached Marimba Bar Set - After Surface Refinishing
Once the quality of the new exposed grain was consistent across the entire bar set, several clear coats of a semi-gloss, water-base finish were added to protect the new surface.

Sun bleached comparison
Direct comparison of before and after conditions.

New Frame for a 1914 Deagan Steel Bell (whole tone scale) Bar Set

This old instrument was barely intact and needed a new support frame that would hold the steel bars and resonators.  In its current condition, it was not easy to play the steel bars.

Remedy: Design a new frame to provide bar and resonator support at a proper height suitable for the percussionist.
Steel Tone Bells - 1914
A vintage steel bar set.

Without a proper stand, the bars could not be easily played.

Removing the bars revealed years of deterioration on the bar rails and end caps.

The accurate transferring of the old bar rail dimensions was crucial to ensure proper alignment of the resonators directly under the acoustic centers of the bars.

Completed frame for the old steel bar set.

Completed frame now at playable height.  A mallet rack was also included in the new frame's design.

Zimbabwea Bass Marimba Replacement of Cracked Bars

The low C2 and D2 bars on the  Masanga Marimba Band's bass marimba had cracked from heavy playing due to many concerts.

Remedy: Fabricate a new C2 and D2 bars using hard maple..

Shown is a nasty crack in the low C2 Bass Marimba Bar.  Bar material is hard maple, which is pretty robust stuff when it comes to the aggressive pounding the zimbabwea band marimbas take.  The cracked bar held its pitch quite well.  When disassembled all bars were checked for pitch.  The C2 bar was actually only a few cents flat of A-440.  Hard maple is amazing stuff!


Two new bars were made, both clear coated and tuned.
Large resonators were also checked.  Its a lot of fun hearing the sound of a freshly repaired bass marimba!