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  • Maas-Rowe Vibrachime Carillon, Model 70, Type 704-H

    by Rhythm Scene Staff | May 16, 2022

    Gift of Al Rodreguez, 1993.09.01

    Maas-Rowe Pic1

    Internal view, with rear panel removed. Note the two, thin wooden strips, each with three wingnuts used to lock the rods in place when the instrument is stored or moved. Also note the surplus suspension cords bundled on the lower right side.

    Historically, a carillon is composed of several pitched bells or tubular chimes that are rung by either mechanical or electronic means. This type of instrument is typically found in church or municipal belfries to mark the time of day and to play melodies. During the 20th century, several companies devised portable, electronically amplified instruments that would duplicate the sound of traditional carillons, but without the massive bells or tubes.

    During the 1950s, the Maas Organ Company, licensed by the Maas-Rowe Electromusic Corporation of Los Angeles, manufactured the Vibrachime carillon. It consists of a small electronic keyboard mounted to the top of a wooden case that houses rods, speakers, and electronic solenoid beaters. When depressed, a key activates a solenoid that strikes one of a series of metal rods. The sound of the rods, which accurately emulate the sound of large church bells, is amplified via the internally mounted speaker system.

    This Vibrachime, serial number 19421, measures 23 inches wide, 12 inches deep, and is 31 inches tall. It has a two-octave keyboard (C–C), which folds over to close within the case when stored. The wooden case has three internally mounted speakers and a panel that removes to adjust or repair the rods and solenoids. The 1/16-inch sounding rods, which range in length from 10.5 to 22 inches, are each suspended by two thin cords, one attached at the top nodal point of the rod, the other at a 90-degree bend in the bottom of the rod.

    The solenoid, which has a square beater head and a white, cloth muffling strip, strikes the rod on the bent end as the key is depressed. When released, the muffling strip rests on the bent end, stopping the rod from ringing. Most often installed for use as part of a church’s organ, the Vibrachime is remarkably realistic sounding to a congregation.

    Maas-Rowe Pic2

    Close-up of the solenoids. Note the loops of white damping cloth, which should attach over the bent rod; the square, green-felt covered strikers; and tension springs that suspend the rods.

    Maas-Rowe Pic3

    Top view of the open keyboard showing the internal speaker. Note the power/volume control, marked “OFF” and “INCREASE” to the left of the power light. 

  • Fred Sand Celesta

    by Rhythm Scene Staff | Apr 25, 2022

    Fred Sand Celesta

    Donated by Emil Richards – 1993.2.14

    The Celesta, patented by Auguste Mustel in 1886, is a metallophone built similar to a small, upright piano. The bars, each mounted with a tuned resonator tube or box, are struck by felt hammers operated by a simple keyboard mechanism. Each bar has an individual damper operated by the key, and a sustain pedal is used to allow all notes to ring when so desired. The tone, described as heavenly, angelic, or “celestial,” is a clear, bell-like ring with varying amounts of sustain depending on the size of the bars and quality of the instrument. Also spelled as “celeste,” the instrument is best known for its prominent use by Tchaikovsky in the “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” from his ballet The Nutcracker, which premiered in 1892.

    This celesta, manufactured by the F. Sand & Co. in New York, features a clear-varnished rosewood cabinet with ivory and ebony keys. When the lid is open, it measures 39 inches wide by 25 inches deep, and is 49 inches in height. The keyboard measures 26.5 inches wide by 6 inches in depth. The cabinet sits on four casters with a handle on each side and has a keyed lock for the keyboard lid. A single brass pedal is used to sustain the entire keyboard, and the maker’s hand-painted insignia of “Sand, Celesta” is centered above the keyboard in gold-leaf. This instrument has the standard 4-octave range, C3–C7, and transposes one-octave up from the written pitch, sounding the range of the top half of a piano. 

    Though little is known about the Fred Sand Company, this instrument appears to be manufactured ca. 1950.

  • Ludwig Standard Black Beauty Snare Drum

    by Rhythm Scene Staff | Feb 14, 2022

    Black Beauty

    Gift of Gerald C. Godfrey, Additional funds provided by the Ralph Pace Museum Acquisition Fund. 2016.11.1
    Due to its appearance, quality of sound, and rarity, the Ludwig Black Beauty snare drums manufactured during the 1920s and 1930s are some of the most prized and sought-after drums by performers and collectors alike. Until 1935, they were manufactured with a two-part, rolled brass shell joined at the center bead and coated with black nickel, which was then etched in one of several decorative patterns.
    During this time period, the drums were available in several configurations and sizes, with first six, then eight, then ten tube lugs, a switch from the first “Professional” strainer (renamed the Pioneer) to a second generation “Professional” strainer, and options that included dual snares and nickel, chrome, or gold plating on the hardware.
    This Ludwig Black Beauty snare drum was purchased for $45.00 by Gerald Godfrey on January 18, 1934 while he was a student at Auburn Senior High School, in Auburn, N.Y. It was used by him in his high school band, in performances with the American Legion Band, and with a local dance band, the Danceolians. It remained with him his entire life, passing to his son at his death.
    Godfrey’s drum is a 5x14-inch Ludwig Standard Black Beauty with single-flanged counterhoops, 10 lugs, and chromed hardware. It features the second-generation Professional strainer, a 10-point floral engraving, an internal tone control, and wire Snappi- snares. The calf heads are period correct, and are likely original to the drum.

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