SAVE the Rosebush Marimbas!

Peter Bush has been making his beautiful homemade marimbas for YEARS!  He has brought joy and the love of music making to literally THOUSANDS of students throughout the years.   His own home and workshop were BURNED DOWN!!  during the fires of 2020, thus- killing his livelihood and his life's work.  He is in need of rebuilding both his home, and his marimba-building workshop.

Now, as we all can relate- Insurance only goes "so far"- and certainly would NOT replace all of the things needed to get his workshop back up and running.  So-  We've set up this GFM to help him REBUILD his shop, and continue his craftsmanship of find marimba building.   
Please, scroll down and continue reading...!!

In an interview with Peter Bush:

Q: Peter, What instruments do you play?
Peter:  Dobro, 12-string converted to Dobro, marimba and piano a little bit
((Interviewer quickly googles what the heck a Dobro is....))

Q: When did you start making marimbas as a regular thing? 
Peter:  1985, I saw marimbas at a booth at the Oregon Country Fair.  They were so crude, I decided to go home and make one. I didn't own a tuner and brought a banjo out to my ridiculously crude shop and made the world's most atrocious marimba.  Which became fire wood later.  I still have marimba #3, which is still an atrocious marimba. 
(interviewer's add:  "hahahahahaaa!!!")

Q:  What is/are some of your fondest marimba-making memories?  
Peter:  Selling my first marimba in 1986 - It was a curved marimba with all the notes chromatically in a row.  I quit my pizza making job and decided I would make marimbas for a living instead. 
Peter:  When Ron Samuels, owner of Marimba One, came by my booth at the Oregon Country Fair, and educated me about the edge notes on all the bars.  I didn't realize I had to push the edge notes away from the first overtone and it made all the difference in the clarity of the notes.  THANK YOU RON SAMUELS! 
Peter:  Moving into my last shop, which just burned, when it finally got insulated and wired, I finally had a spray and sanding booth, wood storage area and finished marimba storage room.  It made a huge difference in my ability to provide a quality marimba to teachers and kids. 
Peter:  Meeting all of the beautiful teachers who work their asses off and sometimes are the entire Drama depart in a school, like Margaret French.  And knowing the lights come on for all of the kids the work with.

Q:  Tell us about some of your marimba-making mistakes in the beginning (I'm remembering funny stories about how you first started out) 

Peter:  The 2nd 5-octave chromatic marimba I made, I had just moved into my latest shop in 2003.  I made a brand new lay out table and got mixed up because of the configuration when I drew the guide lines for drilling the holes in the notes, I forgot to flip the black keys with the white keys (because it was upside down) and after I drilled all the holes in two sets of rosewood notes, graduated bars, I realized my mistake and that I had made a left-anded marimba with the bass end on the right side and the treble end at the left side.  AAAARRRGGH!  I had to plug all the holes with oak dowels, reconfigure the whole thing, and re-drill all the holes.  It took about 4 days.  But the notes came out just fine in the end.

 My first curved frame marimba had a similar experience.  Except with the pipes.  I forgot to lay the curve out reversed and when I finished putting all the pipes together, I realized the only way the would fit onto the marimba was upside down.  AAAARRRGGHH!  It was like building the canoe with one end of the canoe pointing up and the other end of the canoe pointing down.
(interviewer's add:  HAHAHAHAAAA!!! OmG!!! That's awesome!)

Q:  You've been hawking your wares all over the place throughout the years... conferences, festivals, classes, country fairs, etc.... Anything interesting or kinda cool about these events that you want to speak about?  

Peter:  The booth that I saw my first marimbas in at the Oregon Country Fair in 1985 had very crude marimbas in it.  Whoever's booth it was was away from the booth when I came across them this first time.  When I came back the next year after making attrocious marimbas and refining them a little bit, I sought out the same booth and saw a cool hippy-looking guy with beautiful paintings.  I asked him "Wasn't this the marimba booth?"  And he said, "Well it was last year but I was having a hard time with those and realized I really wanted to paint instead."  I told him he had inspired me and he came over and peeked at my marimbas which were only slightly better than what he had had, if at all better. His name was Rick Faist and we became friends. 
His paintings got better and better every year and my marimbas got better and better every year.  3 or 4 years later, he bought a 3 -octave chromatic marimba from me.  I was very honored.  About 10 years later, when I met my first wife, I was looking around in her house feeling something very familiar.  And suddenly I put it together that she had been collecting Rick Faist paintings for years, which was incredible!  It was a cosmic circle that had come together.  We have all been good friends ever since.  Unfortunately, I lost the painting I had of Rick's in the fire.
(interviewer's add:  "oh noooooo......")

Q:  You often have guest school groups come out to your workshop and get a first-hand account of the process and physics of building marimbas... What are some things you like to share with these student groups?

Peter:  I think most people have no idea of the series of overtones that are tuned on the wooden bars... more than one note on each bar.  Showing them how the wood vibrates and demonstrating with a long rubber tube, which is a very graphic representation of how the bar vibrates, is a very effective way to demonstrate the physics of sound. 
Also, on the theory of they are actually tuned with airtight stoppers that have no glue is eye opening to a lot of people.  Agreement between the pitch of the bars and the pipes is what makes a marimba sound "even".  Temperature affects the pipes and the bars differently.  When the temperature goes up, the vibrations of the bar become less frequent or lower pitch.  At the same time, the vibrations of the air column in the pipe get more frequent or higher pitch.  So marimbas perform best when the pipes and notes are tuned at the same temperature. 
The humidity affects everything so when a marimba gets delivered from Oregon to Arizona there can be differences in all of these factors.  On my 5 octave rosewood chromatics, concert marimbas, I developed my own tunable resonators so that when the pitch of the notes go lower in the heat you can pull the stoppers down lower in the tube, therefore, making the pipes a lower frequency to match the note.  This way, the marimba stills sounds at the same volume level, even though the pitch of the whole marimba is a bit less than A=440 (in heat). The opposite happens in the cold.
Orchestra conductors are always horrified at having marimba solos because they can't control the temperature and humidity as easily as in a good recording studio.  So, all of the school and band models I make, Padouk marimba notes that are just the white keys, have fixed stoppers.  When you take these marimbas out for a concert outside in June at the end of school, and its 85 degrees, your notes are producing a lower pitch and your pipes are producing a higher pitch than what I tuned them at, 68-70 degrees.  The result is simply less volume out of the marimba because the pipes and notes are not in perfect agreement. It is simply a fact you can't change about the notes fluctuating with temperature change.  If you what to really go deluxe, you can have "tunable" resonators that I only offer on the deluxe chromatic marimbas.

(interviewer's add:   {{faints on the floor from the geek-out-ed-ness of all of this amazing SCHTUFF!!!}}

Q:  What are some other stories you might like people to know?

Margaret French at Eagle Creek Elementary, in the early 1990's, bought an 8 foot bass marimba and at the Christmas program they gave me a present which every kid in her class wrote a thank you note and drew a picture for me.  I was blown away.  
(interviewer's add:  We named it,  "Big Pete")

This one is from Lisa, Peter's GORGEOUS partner:
May 2017, Peter and I travelled to Tucumcari, NM to deliver a batch of marimbas to the music teacher, Andrew Kesten and the kids of his school.  What an adventure!  There is nothing better than watching the kids light up as the instruments are set up and they begin to interact with them and start to make music.  They are tentative at first and then they really start to get into it as they hear the sound coming out of their new friends.  The school was so welcoming to us.  The kids and their parents put together an incredible homemade southwestern meal - homemade tamales (wow!), chicken pasole, homemade enchiladas, homemade tortillas, salsa ... so Good!  And we shared a beautiful meal at Andrew's house with his wife, Missleady (sp?).  Such good memories there.

Several teachers have sent me videos of their kids playing the marimbas.  It's so heartening to see them learning and they are all great.

Here's one in particular.  Rachel Blythe, a teacher at Molalla River Academy, had 2 students, Josh and Annie Border, brother and sister, who bought an alto marimba a few years ago from me.  Rachel asked their mother, Heather Loeckle, to send me some videos of them playing at the Oregon City Farmer's market during covid-19.  This brother/sister combination is absolutely awesome!  They are going to be big if they keep going.  It is heartening to be able to produce instruments that allow wonderful things to happen and make the lights come on for kids who are ready.

Some others that have sent me beautiful videos are Andrew Kesten, Tucumcari Elementary; Ed Nardi, Haverford Friends School, Pennsylvania; Jerry Manto, Exley Elementary, Kady TX (played at the capital in Austin);  and countless others I know I'm missing and I'm sorry that Im not including everyone.

Interviewer's final notes:
Folks, THIS DELIGHTFUL HUMAN BEING deserves a re-birth.  Please help me spread the word, and let's get him back and running- building and creating for the joy and love of people all over the world.   




Please share this GFM, and let's shower Peter Bush with love in a tangible way!

I have my own stories I could share with you- one of which involves me buying my first batch of 5 marimbas in 2001, giving names to them (complete with name-tags), but I had to wait a little while to take them home that day- - - so (while I was 6 months pregnant) Peter helped me find the pit-toilet outside his first I could pee, while I waited for him to finish the final details of MY BELOVED MARIMBAS!!    HAHAHAH!!

I mean, like-  what a guy, eh?  

Sincerely, Mrs. Val Ellett Locke
Oregon Music Education Association's 2020 Elementary Music Teacher of the Year
NAfME's NW Division Chair- Council for General Music Ed, 5 years
Former OMEA Advocacy Co-Chair
Former OMEA General Music Chair
Former OMEA Dist. 2, Elementary Music Chair
David Douglas School District:  Cadre of Distinguished Educators

oh fercryinoutloud, just email me if you have ANY doubt.....  
[email redacted]

  • Sally Smith 
    • $50 
    • 6 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $50 
    • 8 mos
  • Carolynn Langston 
    • $25 
    • 9 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $100 
    • 10 mos
  • Marilou Baker 
    • $50 
    • 11 mos
See all

Fundraising team: Team "Good Vibes"! (2)

Val Locke 
Raised $50 from 1 donation
Boring, OR
Peter Bush 
Team member
Raised $2,020 from 12 donations