Design & Technology
|Instruments - Vibraphones|
The noisy, unexpressive, motorized vibrato used on all vibraphones since the instrument's invention in 1916 was never musically inspiring to me. Many vibraphone players seemed to agree, since they chose to create their music without use of the "vibra" part of the vibraphone. Even the best instruments had motors and pulsar fan assemblies that were frequently too noisy to use in ballads or in classical music - exactly where you would want to selectively add vibrato.
LoveVibe and OmegaVibe are very different musical instruments, but they share many of these patented and exclusive design features:
(1) Superb sustain/powerful bars/proprietary alloy & tuning system
(2) Patented "Progressive Dampening" gel system - unlimited feathering.
As every vibes player knows, damper bars frequently don't dampen evenly. Sharps vs. naturals / top vs. bottom / middle range vs. extremes. Some problems develop over time as the damper bar warps; other issues are there right out of the box, caused by inexpensive, unstable, single-spring designs.
(3) Patented "pull bar" technology -- will never deform damper.
(4) Patented, ultra-lightweight resonator tuners for every note.
Until you hear the differences in character, volume and ring, you may not be able to appreciate how radically our tunable resonators can change your sound. Elevates the Malletech LoveVibe and OmegaVibe into a new category.
(5) Patented adjustable damper pad angle (adjusts dampening sharps vs. naturals).
Our patented concave gel first contacts the bars closer to the non-vibrating node and then "progressively" swells toward the more actively vibrating end of the bar: taper quickly or feather infinitely without any worry about buzz.
(6) Dual adjustable damper springs (adjusts dampening high vs. low).
(A) Quick disconnect, silent pedal strap.
Quick release / adjust silent pull strap (A)
Adjust swivel resistance (D)
(C) Adjustable pedal position and (B) adjustable pedal leverage.
Adjust pedal leverage / feel / pull ratio (B).
Pedal position on frame customized to 5 different positions (C)
(9) 4 Total Lock wheels (a real budget buster for the suits).
(10) Aircraft strut technology - high strength-to-weight-ratio (16 lb. harp)
Vibrato from 1916 to 2008
Existing vibrato mechanisms have significant shortcomings. In addition to the obvious point that we have not been able to control the speed of the vibrato in any meaningful musical way, previous designs also do not permit variations of strength of vibrato. As the pulsar fans rotate on the shaft at the set speed of the motor, the strength or “depth” of the resonance varies in exactly the same way with each rotation (approximately 85% open to 15% closed). With the Love Vibe (and some practice!), there is a myriad of musical possibilities and applications for varying both the depth and speed of vibrato. With practice, you can actually play RHYTHMS with your pedal. Every nuance of the shutters is controlled through the super low friction cords attached to the pedal mechanism. If the tension ever needs adjustment (this is rare), you can adjust the thumb screws in less than 60 seconds!
There are other less obvious problems with the old technology. The mechanism that produces the vibrato effect blocks a substantial portion of the resonance of the tube. The pulsar fans and shaft are both located within the resonator. In the “full open position” the pulsar fans are blocking the tone bar. The resonator is never really “closed” off from the tone bar because there is always “leakage” around the pulsar disk into the resonator. Thus, even in well made instruments, old fashioned motor driven vibrato never produces the full potential range of vibrato – never full volume when “open”, nor minimal volume when “closed”.
Old style "leaky" pulsar fans limit the
dynamic range of the vibrato effect
Another disadvantage of the old system of producing vibrato is that the upper open ends of the resonator tubes (nearest to the tone bars) must be notched out or otherwise deformed to accommodate the pulsar fan shaft. This notching of the tubes weakens the resonance and adds undesirable non-harmonic overtones to what remains.
Malletech’s patent-pending shutter technology “ends the revolution” with a REAL REVOLUTION!
With our new shutter technology, the resonators can be FULLY opened, FULLY shut or any portion thereof, in real time, in sync with the music. Your creativity will be limited only by your pedal technique. The resonators are also fully tunable, so the power and sustain of every note can be adjusted to your individual taste at any stage or outdoor temperature. The shutters and cord pull mechanism all turn on five precision, low-friction, silent ball bearings.
Damper and frame Issues
As every vibes player knows, EVERY vibraphone currently made has dampening problems such as:
- Top and bottom notes don’t dampen at the same time
- Sharps & naturals don’t dampen at the same time
- Middle of the instrument doesn’t dampen at the same time as the ends because damper bar is warped through constant pulling.
Our design addresses all these issues in novel ways.
Damper bar independent height adjustment
The damper bar is attached to the pivot arm mechanism through an adjustable silicone pad. This allows the damper bar to be slightly flexible, yet adjustable, up or down on each end of the instrument. Most damper bar adjustments can be made through this simple mechanism, completely independent of the spring tension and Harp Angle Adjustment.
Harp independent angle adjustment
The harp can be lowered or raised on either end, or front and back onto the damper bar in four different directions on silicone isolation points. For example, if the high end sharps are ringing longer than you want, screw the silicone point down a turn or two and that corner of the harp drops, dampening the high sharp bars sooner.
Lightweight detachable harp
- Harp lifts off the frame for easier transport (with or without bars)
- No stress on the harp/bar rails through dampening/pedaling
- No shock transmitted to the frame or resonators in heavy playing
The Malletech vibe utilizes jet airplane fuselage technology to lighten the frame without sacrificing rigidity. This costly process produces a frame with the stiffness of aluminum, but without the weight of previous designs. In fact, the Love Vibe weighs 100 lbs less than a wellknown, less lovable design...
Damper Bar Pivot Mechanism
Most previous vibraphones have the problem of dampening the sharps and naturals at different times. This problem is primarily caused by the short pivot arms, which create a pronounced and undesirable arc at the point of contact.
The Malletech Love Vibe solves that problem by doubling the length of the pivot arms (to reduce the arc) and beefing up the whole system.
Pedal/Damper pull ratio
Instead of pulling on the damper bar directly, risking the deforming of the bar over time (or requiring the bar to be heavily reinforced -- which is the solution seen in the market so far), we have eliminated all stress on the damper bar by pulling on the pivot arms that move the damper bar. The Malletech Love Vibe has the additional advantage of being able to adjust the leverage of system (the “resistance” and “feel” of pedal and the amount of travel of the damper pedal, vs. how much the damper bar moves), without adjusting the spring tension. The malletech Love Vibe allows easy adjustment of all parameters INDEPENDENTLY.
- Adjust the damper pedal ratio of motion/resistance
- Adjust the damper bar stop height, top or bottom (two stops)
- Adjust the spring tension of the damper at top or bottom (two springs)
- Adjust the damper pad height or angle at top or bottom
- Adjust any corner of the harp up or down to increase or decrease dampening in any zone (high, low, sharps, or naturals)
Progressive Wave Dampening
All previous keyboard percussion dampening systems attempt to contact the bars with a flat felt damper that contacts the ends evenly, or with a fluid-filled bladder that first hits the ends and then swells to contact the tone bar closer to the node. In other words, existing designs attempt to dampen “most efficiently” by dampening at the most sensitive spot of the tone bar – the end. This is efficient, but crude and not very “musical” in effect.
I have discovered that by dampening the bars first at a point closer to the non-vibrating node (where the string is) and then progressively dampening toward the more active end of the bar, the result is much more “musical” and natural. The tone “tapers” or “feathers” like the end of a note produced by a violin bow. This technology eliminates the unwanted buzzing that is so common with vibraphones – buzzing produced by the dampening material coming in sudden contact with the strongly vibrating ends of the bars. With this new technology, much less pedal travel and spring pressure is needed, giving the musician far more musical control over the dampening process.
In summary, if you own a vibraphone made between 1916 and 2008, you might want to get it on eBay before the big rush...