Just recently, I went to VanderCook College of Music in Chicago, IL and attended a two day course called, Orff Instrument Repair and Maintenance lead by Gary Everett. It was a great class. I highly recommend the class to anyone with a classroom of barred instruments.
Gary's class is a two day class. (8:00 a.m. -5:00 p.m. on day 1 and 8:00 a.m.- 1:30 p.m. on day 2.) I brought 9 barred instruments to the class to fix. I wasn't sure how many I would be able to fix but I planned to do as many as I could in the two days. Some of the instruments I brought were very old and needed a lot of help! I learned that with many hands and plenty of supplies, there was time to get to everyone's repair needs. Bring as many instruments as you can. There will be time.
So, here's how to get started. Gary set up shop for us in an air conditioned classroom and he brought a variety of tools to help move the process along.
1. Using an air compressor, clean out the inside of the xylophone.
2. Next, straighten the nails using pliers. Take note of pins that need attention like a new nail or pins that need a new rubber cover.
3. If a nail is snapped off, you will need to use a new nail and place it very close to the snapped nail. If a nail won’t straighten and you need a new nail, take out the old one and put a new nail in it’s place.
1. Often times the Suspension Cord breaks or needs to be replaced. Once the pins of the instrument are in good shape, you can work on the suspension cord. Gary suggests using Parachute Cord (Also called Paracord).
2. Place a thumb tack through the Parachute Cord and press the tack into the far inside end of the barred instrument. Hammer into place if needed.
3. Weave the cord in and out of the pins making 2 or 3 layers of cord. (Gary suggested two layers of cord for smaller barred instruments and three layers for the Bass Xylophones). He also said the parachute cord doesn't work well on Metalophones and suggests finding the proper cording from West Music.
4. Push a tack into the end of the cord and press it into the end of the barred instrument. You may need to use a hammer to push the thumb tack in securely.
5. Cord the other side the exact same way.
6. Place are the bars on the instrument and test your repair work.