The Marimba pictured below is of no use to modern Marimba Players. The latest compositions require instruments with 5 octaves and this one has only 4. It is however, an example of Marimba manufacturing par excellence. The bars are made of prime rosewood, old heartwood that is simply no longer available and much of the instrument is made of materials that were restricted once the 2nd World War began. The resonating tubes are chrome plated brass, the braces chrome plated steel. The wheels are extra-large and even the Art Nuvo decals are still visible on the wooden end pieces.
Of course, the bottom line is a sound I can only describe as organically warm, rich, mellow and alive. Because rosewood trees were over harvested, this sound is only heard on old instruments. If one wants to hear that sound, or a reasonable facsimile thereof, listen to the CD Nexus Ragtime Concert or its companion, Nexus Plays the Novelty Music of George Hamilton Green. Nexus Ragtime Concert was a direct to disc recording and when I practiced my parts at home, the CD and marimba sound fused together so perfectly, I couldn’t hear myself playing.
I purchased this instrument from Bob Ayers in 1966. Bob’s wife Doreen wanted a new refrigerator and if I paid for it, I could have the marimba. Deal! My wife and I drove to New Jersey, had a nice visit with Bob and Doreen, packed up the marimba and brought it back to Rochester. I think Doreen’s refrigerator cost $250.00.
According to my sources, the number 54 Marimba was an improved version of Deagan’s number 354. It’s at least 77 years old and the chrome needs a little polishing and the wooden parts could use some buffing. Other than those cosmetic touch ups, it’s in better shape than its owner. Soon it will have a new home.
Unless otherwise indicated, all photographs by Richard Quinlan, Q Media Solutions.