How to make your marimba height-adjustable

Michael Chwe, February 2011

Full view

My son plays a Musser M250 marimba, which is beautiful but too low for his playing comfort, since he is 6 feet and 3 inches (191 cm) tall.  We used to raise the marimba on wooden blocks, but blocks have limitations: blocks cannot raise the marimba more than 1 or 2 inches without being unstable, moving the marimba is inconvenient (you have to lift it off the blocks, move the instrument, and then put it up on the blocks again), and they are not adjustable.

To make his marimba height-adjustable, at low cost and without altering the instrument (i.e. drilling holes into it), I came up with the idea in the picture above.  I used four trailer jacks (which each cost $20 and are available from Northern Tool), one on each corner of the marimba.  The jacks are bolted onto wood boards which are clamped around the side supports of the marimba.  The marimba is held in place between the two boards by friction.  I used foam tape, which is often used for weatherstripping or this, to increase the friction between the boards and the marimba.

The design is pretty self-explanatory and more details are shown in the pictures below.  Notice the gray foam tape between the boards and the marimba side supports.

Close up 1Close up 2

As you can see in the side view below, each trailer jack is attached with four bolts.  I used two 5 inch 3/8" hex bolts (the silver bolts on the left side) and two 1.5 inch 3/8" plow bolts (the black bolts on the right side) for each trailer jack.  The 5 inch bolts also clamp the two boards to the marimba leg.  It looks like the black plow bolts on the right are going straight through the marimba, but they go through only the board; plow bolts have flat heads so the head of the plow bolt is flush with the side of the board which touches the marimba.

Side view

Here is a view from above, which shows how the four long (5 inch) bolts clamp the two boards around the marimba side support. 

Top view

The design is very simple, can be easily removed, and can be adapted for any keyboard mallet instrument.  If you remove the original wheels, you can even make the marimba go lower than was originally designed.  The result is kind of bulky and heavy, however.  Each trailer jack (which can support 1000 pounds!) weighs around 15 pounds, and roughly six inches of clearance are necessary on both sides of the marimba.  Four cranks are also a bit inconvenient, but I suppose one could say that four-wheel "independent suspension" might be useful on uneven floors.  The total budget was around $180: $80 for the four jacks, $90 for the wood (I used walnut, which is a bit expensive), and $10 for bolts and nuts.

If you have any questions or other suggestions about how to make a marimba height-adjustable (other than buying a new one which is already height-adjustable!), please contact me at  Thanks!