A vibraphone, also called the vibes or vibraharp, is a type of keyboard percussion instrument. It looks similar to a xylophone or marimba but sounds quite, mainly because its bars are made from metal rather than wood. The aluminum bars give the vibraphone a much longer sustain, so the instrument comes equipped with a pedal to control the length of the notes.


The vibraphone also has a facility for a vibrato effect, which is often, but not always used. This is achieved by having a small metal disk in the top of the resonator under each note, which is connected via a rod to a motor which rotates, opening and closing the tube. The speed of the vibrato is variable on most instruments, and the performer can use it to enhance their sound. The composer can specify "motor on" or "motor off" if desired, or it can be left to the judgment of the performer.


Although there have been a few non-standard instruments made, the range is almost always: F below middle C, up three octaves to F – two and a half octaves above middle C.


Vibraphone range


The vibraphone is best known as a jazz instrument, being used extensively in small jazz ensembles and Big Bands.