Hi all, is it possible to construct a vibraphone? I couldnt find anything on the web!.. anyone has a guide on bar dimensions, thicknesses, support details etc.?
I guess with care it shouldnt be too difficult, even if constructed without the electric motor for the vibrato effects.
I'm sure this reply is a bit late, but yes, you can build your own vibraphone. There isn't much on the web because it's easier to cut wood and make a Marimba than it is to cut metal and make a vibe.
I'm working on mine currently. I purchased the aluminum in a 12' bar from a local metal shop, which only cost about $40. I just called around until I found a place that could supply me with what I needed.
This website is full of useful information about making free bar instruments. The author is actually trying to publish his next book which will include making a vibraphone (his other book is available in most libraries, I believe. I know I found one in mine).
The problem I've run into with making the vibe bars is that my current keys are just straight-forward rectangles. Real vibe bars have the underside cut out, like marimba bars do (you can find how-to Marimba stuff all over the net). My vibe bars don't have this cutout so they do not vibrate enough to make a tone. They just go "dink" when struck. I crudely cut out the underside of one and it sounded MUCH nicer.
But I currently have no way of mass cutting the undersides to all these bars. Metal milling equipment would be necessary.
Just purchase the width and thickness of aluminum you want, (there are different dimensions for this, but you can get away with 1 1/2 - 2" wide and about a 1/2" thick) then cut all the bars to length yourself. Cut so that it makes a nice gradient from long to short. Then, cut the underside out and trim off the corners and whatnot to get the bar to the exact note you want.
You can look at Marimba construction to get an idea of how to adjust the tone on the bar. Cutting or trimming at different places on the bar can either raise or lower the pitch.
As for the resonator tubes, people have just made them out of PVC pipes or even cardboard tubes of the right width. You just have to do the calculations to figure out the appropriate length, because that's very important to make the tubes to work properly.
As for the spinning circles and motor for vibrato, you could probably construct this as well using circles cut to size attached to a rod that is connected to the motor. The frame can be made out of anything as well, but you can buy actual vibe frames on eBay.
I hope this helps, write back if you need me to clarify or anything!