I'm sharing this story here, because when I looked around the internet for information about this I couldn't find much!  So, here's my story about refinishing a marimba.  Enjoy:

In August, 2013, I traded in a Deagan 1912 xylophone for a 4-octave Ludwig Leedy marimba from sometime between 1950 and 1955.  The xylophone was purchased with funds from my late grandfather, and was a fantastic instrument and had a lot of sentimental value.  However, in the 3+ years I had it I used it on 2 personal recording projects and at one audition.  I rarely used it.

Meanwhile, Bowtime was becoming a project that I was focusing more energy into, but the only mallet instrument we had that worked well for it was the MalletKat.  While the MalletKat is a great instrument, clients are more interested in live acoustic instruments. 

I talked to Century Mallet here in Chicago where I got the Deagan xylophone and asked about a trade.  They graciously agreed to make a trade.  The marimba sounds great; it's easy to transport, and is a great size for what Stephanie and I were trying to do.  There was just one problem:  I'm sure that the instrument looked really great when it was originally made, but cream color is not quite as fashionable today as it was in the early 50's.  Also, the paint had begun to flake off in different places due to aging. 

Early January, 2014, I took on the project of refinishing the instrument.  This meant stripping the paint from all of the wood pieces as well as the metal resonators.  I had no idea what I was getting into.  Due to ignorance, I expected paint stripping to be a simple process.  I was very wrong.  The entire process took me over 30 hours of work at my friend's basement and probably cost around $250-$300.  The worst part was the paint stripping.   It was a very labor-intensive process.  After the stripping I then sanded the wood pieces, then stained parts of them and re-painted other parts.  If you're interested in knowing more about the process, please contact me and I'd be happy to tell you more about it.  Here are a few pictures that give you some insight into the process, with the first images showing the "before" paintjob and some "after" pictures:

Thanks for taking a look!


First, here's what it looked like before the process:

b4 1.jpg

Here's what it looked like during the process:

 stripping the paint off the resonators was tough work!

stripping the paint off the resonators was tough work!

 side panels with the paint stripped off

side panels with the paint stripped off

 The finished instrument!

The finished instrument!


So, that gives you an idea of what it takes to refinish a marimba!  Feel free to write me with any questions you might have about the process.  Thanks again for looking!