Artie’s father was a bread deliveryman in Manhattan. One of his best customers was Lionel Hampton, who liked to have his breakfast at a certain coffeeshop in Greenwich Village at 4:00 AM, when Mr. Lieberman typically delivered fresh bread. Artie’s father asked Lionel Hampton if he would recommend someone to teach his son to play drums. Hampton referred Mr. Lieberman to Freddie Albright, who agreed to teach young Artie, on the condition that they must begin on the xylophone. Once Artie learned to read music on the xylophone, they could begin to split the lessons between xylophone and drums. Lessons progressed nicely, and later on Mr. Lieberman again approached Lionel Hampton asking about the purchase of a used vibraphone for his son. Hampton replied that he happened to have one he wasn’t using and would sell it for $300.00. The recently refurbished instrument remains in Artie’s collection and is pictured above.

Artie has dozens of vintage and new instruments in his collection, including many one-of-a-kind instruments such as those pictured below. Highly sought-after instruments such as Deagan roundtop bells, Deagan songbells, specially-made bass marimbas and extended-range chimes are available for rental.

Musser’s personal Canterbury marimba with adjustable resonators

Notice the three circles on the bass end of the frame on Musser’s Canterbury marimba pictured above. The top circle is a thermometer. The middle circle is an indicator for the position of the resonator caps, and the bottom is an adjustment dial for the resonator caps. When the middle indicator is aligned to the proper room temperature via the adjustment dial, the instrument is in perfect intonation relative to the room.

The incomparable King George marimba

Deagan songbells

Deagan “reverse roundtop” bells (the “roundtop” is on the bottom!)

Leedy roundtop xylophone (not one of their best ideas)

Mallet Instrument Service isn’t just for keyboard percussion, Artie is a full-service dealer. Last year, when I asked him to demonstrate to my students how to properly replace a timpani head, he and his assistant Larry were able to divide the students into groups and replace an entire set during a 50-minute class period! Not only that, but the students got hands-on experience practicing Artie’s method. When we needed a replacement part for a discontinued instrument, Artie crafted a specially-machined part. When I showed him the gadget one of my former students made for the bass drum/cymbal attachment for the Milhaud Percussion Concerto, he was able to reproduce it. (If you want one, give him a call!)

All the usual accoutrements

Heavy metal in South Charlotte

More stuff…

Artie provided instruments for Evelyn Glennie’s performance of the Schwantner Percussion Concerto with the Charlotte Symphony a few years ago. One of the most interesting contraptions he designed for Dame Evelyn was a water-gong vessel made from an old timpani bowl (plugged, of course), complete with a mechanical immersion device.  Since then, Glennie has contracted exclusively with Mallet Instrument Service for all her US engagements. But Artie’s business isn’t just about specialty or vintage instruments. Several of my students have been able to purchase quality used and refurbished starter marimbas through Mallet Instrument Service. He’ll also buy your old instrument when you’re ready for an upgrade. If you think this is sounding like an advertisment, well I guess it is. But I like to think of it as a simple “thank you” to a very dear friend and part of our percussion family. Oh, and if you want to contact Artie, the information is below. He doesn’t have a website, and don’t try to text him ’cause he uses a phone “only for a phone.” His lovely wife, Gina does answer email, though.

Mallet Instrument Service/Vintage Percussion, Artie Lieberman, 3500 Plantation Road, Charlotte, NC 28270, 704-849-8040

Our percussion instrument “guru,” Artie Lieberman

4 Responses to “Artie Lieberman’s Mallet Instrument Service”

  1. john crocken November 20, 2012 at 9:15 am #

    Sold you a small jenco marimba @ PAS many years ago (JC’s Drum Shop) know anyone interested in a deagan 3 and one half 8va marimba–#352—graduated bars–$1495.00?

  2. James Armis January 30, 2014 at 4:58 am #

    That Roundtop Xylophone is a Deagan, not a Leedy. Great photos though!!!

    • Deagan alright May 4, 2017 at 6:48 am #

      It’s a Deagan for sure. Even says so stamped on the end piece…!