Here are a few photos of a vintage Korogi xylophone I recently had the pleasure of restoring for a local brass band. There’s something wonderfully satisfying about taking an almost unplayable instrument and giving it a second life – and in the process uncovering a beautiful rosewood keyboard beneath all the chipped and brown stained lacquer. Quite a cheerful and charismatic little instrument, this.
A broken bar cord wasn’t the only thing making this xylophone practically unplayable – some of the notes were so badly chipped, cracked and worn that they were more than a whole semitone out of tune. A friend recalled playing on the very same xylophone at a percussion band competition over a decade ago, describing his bemusement at the fact that the pitch of the notes didn’t necessarily go up as one moved up the keyboard. Well, after all these years, it seems things certainly hadn’t improved!
Ouch! I had to remember to keep my gloves on while working on this well-loved keyboard – otherwise I’d end up with a hand full of splinters. Those keys sounded a little more like an mbira from all the buzzing of the split notes.
Yep, that D was actually flatter than the C# to the left of it, not to mention feeling somewhat akin to playing on a bar made out of wool…
There’s that D again – now looking considerably healthier, and sounding good as new after being raised by a whopping 120 cents. Yikes!
Some quite beautiful rosewood grain is exposed after removing the original stained lacquer. One of the little rewards you get restoring old instruments like this is the uncovering of all the beautiful little natural embellishments of the timber – the classic dark streaks typical of the dalbergia timbers, the beautiful silky grain weaving like a mountain river… ahh.
The finished keyboard – now perfectly in tune, including properly corrected overtones, and thankfully free of buzzing and splinters, with a new bar cord and a properly tensioned frame. Ready to hit the stage in style!