Scariest Instrument Restoration
Last fall we asked for your scariest Studio 49 instruments, and boy did you frighten us! We saw ghoulish glockenspiels, creepy chromatics, and mysterious metallophones. You unearthed many hair-raising relics from your instrument graveyards. But it was this vintage xylophone from Ridge Ranch Elementary School in Paramus, NJ that really made us shriek!
After years of neglect and exposure to the elements, this xylophone’s bars were seemingly damaged beyond repair. But Teaching With Orff’s own “Doctor Lissa” was ready at her Instrument Repair Hospital to resuscitate this critical patient. Below she shares her renovation process in the hopes that you can revitalize some of your own relics and return them to beautiful classroom condition!
Part One: The Resonator Box
1. Remove old tubing.
2. Straighten bent pins gently with a pair of pliers.
3. Vacuum out the inside of the resonator box.
4. Clean the inside of the box with mild soap and water.
5. Polish the outside of the resonator box with Scott’s Liquid Gold furniture polish. It cleans the wood and minimizes any scratches.
6. Replace the old rubber tubing with new. Gently slide it over the pins.
Part 2: The Tone Bars
This poor instrument was kept in a closet that had a leak. Water damaged the finish on the bars. This was very unfortunate.
1. After consulting a furniture maker, a tiny bit of Lacquer Thinner was tested on the side of one bars. It seemed to remove the finish without raising the grain of the wood. Each bar was treated with Lacquer Thinner very sparingly and the damaged finish was removed.
2. Next Old English Scratch Cover for Light Wood was used to treat the bars. Normally, Old English Scratch Cover for Dark Wood can be used for these bars. But since the finish was removed it would have made the bars very, very dark. The lighter color helped to restore the bars. Next a coat of Tung Oil was applied. This helps to seal the wood.
3. Finally, use a fine tipped gold metallic Sharpie to redefine the letters.
4. TA DA! This instrument is no longer scary. It looks and sounds great. Make sure you store your instruments is a safe, dry, place out of the sunlight and dripping water.
The instrument has been returned to the classroom where it belongs, and Reita tells us her refurbished Studio 49 xylophone “is really lovely, and it is so great to have another instrument to add to the collection! We use it every day! Thank you so much for the time and effort that went in to repairing this instrument.”