Wednesday, February 10, 2010
MASTER CRAFTSMAN OF THE DAY! 2-10-10
I just found this great video on YouTube of Gilberto Serna of Century Mallets here in Chicago. Gilberto has fixed and serviced my vibraphone and marimbas many many times over the years and visits to his shop are as fun as breaking the instruments in the first place. He worked for J. C. Deagan Company (one of the most respected makers of vibraphones, xylophone, and many many other mallet instruments) up until they were bought out by Yamaha in the 80's. His place is loaded down with mallet instruments of literally every shape and size... forms you NEVER knew existed.... early electronic versions run off of primitive car batteries... ones made over a hundred years ago... He is THE guy to service mallet instruments in the western hemisphere. Yes, he is that well know in those circles. He is like the Mohammed Ali of mallet instruments.
The first time I brought him my vibes for a fixing, I stayed to watch him work a bit. It was like stepping back 100 years when you enter his shop and there was almost too much to see. As he looked my vibraphone over he said to me " You know, these were made here". I said "Yeah, they were made in Chicago. Deagan was from Chicago, right?" He turns to me and said "no, no... I mean they were made right here in THIS ROOM in 1920." Crazy! It was true. Gilberto took over Deagan's Chicago headquarters for his workshop and showroom where he remains today . The "Deagan" logo still graces the clock tower on top of the building.