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Reviews Categories | Keys & Paddles | Alberto Frattini Bug Type J36 Chrome Help

Reviews Summary for Alberto Frattini Bug Type J36 Chrome
Alberto Frattini Bug Type J36 Chrome Reviews: 10 Average rating: 5.0/5 MSRP: $610.00 (435 EUR)
Description: Materials used: Chrome brass - Highly polished inox steel for screws and registers
Dimensions: Base 160x90x15 mm; weight 2,00 kgs
Other: Solid silver contacts
Product is in production.
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You can write your own review of the Alberto Frattini Bug Type J36 Chrome.

N2FQ Rating: 5/5 Jul 19, 2016 16:17 Send this review to a friend
Master Piece  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I decided to give myself a 70th birthday present and opted for
the Chrome Left Hand model. The communication with Alberto
Frattini is exceptional. As has been said, master workmanship,
beautiful to look at and a joy to use.

You get the hex keys, two weights, the chord and extra screws.

I have a few Lionel and Vibroplex J-36s but this one make them

Firstly, the bug is much heavier.
The chrome is a mirror finish, both on top and underneath.
The contact adjusting screws are precise.

Highly recommend this model to the serious bug user.
You will agree that the others are inferior.
So save up and get one, you will be a happy camper.

Fernando N2FQ/6

W0CCA Rating: 5/5 Jul 15, 2014 08:05 Send this review to a friend
Work of Art  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Frank Lloyd Wright said Form Follows Function and nobody has that right like Alberto !! The J36 is just a wonderful piece of workmanship. He has taken what seems to be overall the most popular bug model over time and made an absolute classic of it. The right one to put that energy into.

A little wait time but well worth it. Depending on your dit swing distance and spring setting, it easily makes 100-150 uniform dits before starting to load down. So your "5" is not going to lose a dit. No danger of sloppy scratchy dits either, the bane of poor bug fists.

It feels so precise, your bug sending improves immediately. You do need to sit up and pay attention though, you would be roundly criticized for sending sloppy fist bug stuff with this machine.

The Italian sensibility toward fine machined parts, apparent in bicycles to espresso machines, is totally evident in this bug.

My number one to this point was my McElroy 1938 Delux. No conflict, the Frattini wins, but I have got to keep the '38 going too.

As a CW only guy for 53 years, I am just puffed up with pride that one of our number is still putting this artistic effort into the CW art.

Cap, W0CCA
REMOVED_ACCOUNT_2015-01-09 Rating: 5/5 Jan 4, 2014 15:44 Send this review to a friend
Best Sending Machine  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
Thought I had seen the best machines until I took the plunge and purchased one of Alberto's creations. This is one amazing sending machine. So beautifully crafted it's something to admire knowing Alberto produced this with his milling machine and lathes.

CW flows easily with this bug. No need to elaborate since I will only be repeating what others have stated. Have used it for 6 months and today received my second bug from Alberto, the Prestige Chrome Model.

Amazing stuff knowing they were not manufactured in a plant but in a CW Lover's basement.

Many Thanks Alberto!
K7SF Rating: 5/5 Apr 23, 2013 16:39 Send this review to a friend
Unbelievable! The best I've ever used  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
This is the smoothest bug I've ever used. The Lightning/J36 has always been my favorite, and Alberto's craftsmanship and precision on this is unbelievable.

I can use this bug for hours at 40 wpm with ease and it has the greatest feel of any key I've ever used.

Also, it is the most beautiful key I've ever owned. Alberto makes a nice line of newer style bugs and paddles which are also very attractive, and I plan to purchase some of them in the future.

I also own a 1931 Lightning bug and a 1979 sienna brown Lightning bug which was the last year Vibroplex built that model. It is so neat to be able to get a brand new chrome 2013 J-36.

Age here is 61 and I've been licensed for 50 years using Vibroplex bugs and keyers. This was my 50th anniversary present to myself of being a licensed ham.

Thanks Alberto and I will treasure it forever!

WB2LQF Rating: 5/5 Jul 6, 2012 13:48 Send this review to a friend
Incredibly beautiful and a pleasure to operate  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
I purchased 0038 from Alberto several months ago and I am totally satisfied in all respects. The finish is beyond belief! The operation is smooth and everything one would expect from a top-of-the-line semiautomatic key. I'm so pleased to have it in my collection, and I'm also very pleased to have a new Alberto Frattini keyring - a surprise I found in the bottom of my shipping container!
K4MSG Rating: 5/5 Sep 2, 2011 20:25 Send this review to a friend
Great instrument!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I recently purchased Frattini J36 bug s/n 0032, hand-built by Alberto Frattini, I1QOD. This instrument is a modern “clone” of the Vibroplex & Lionel J-36 bugs built during WWII, although it seems to be patterned more closely on the Lionel version which has always been known for its great sending characteristics and consistency from bug to bug. I have been using a Lionel J-36 as my main station bug for many years and have owned several of them, so I am very familiar with its characteristics.


My Frattini J36 has the powder-coat black base with all chrome top parts (an all-chrome version is also available). It came well-packed in a heavy cardboard box lined with rectangular Styrofoam panels arranged to completely cushion the bug and allow ample space around it for protection. Shipped from Italy on a Tuesday morning it arrived at my house on Friday.

Construction-wise, the Frattini J36 is virtually identical to the Lionel J-36 except that the top and bottom triangular plates are much thicker, which makes for a more rigid pivot point assembly for the lever arm. Adjusting screws are hex-head and are not all the same size, so at least three different flavors of wrench will be required to adjust things like the top & bottom trunion screws (the middle size), the lower trunion screw lock-screw and the lever arm to trunion pin lock-screw (the smallest size), and the dash contact blade screw (the largest size) which is also the size used on the screws holding the triangle-plate assembly together.

A couple of differences from the original J-36 are:

1. No circuit-closer switch

2. No “graduation” marks on the flat pendulum shaft for speed-setting (more on this later).


After setting up the bug, tweaking the adjustments a few times and using it on the air, I can make the following observations:

1. Almost identical “feel” to the Lionel J-36 but quite a bit smoother. It goes where you want it to go with no muss, no fuss. I’ve already gotten compliments on my big “fist” at both minimum speed and my normal operating speed (mid to upper 20s). I find it to be a real joy to use.

2. Much lower minimum speed range than my Lionel J-36. I did a rough measurement and it’s in the neighborhood of 15 wpm minimum with a “high end” capability well above 35 wpm. This is due to the much-thinner mainspring, i.e., 0.0123” on the Frattini J36 as compared to 0.0165” on my 1944 Lionel J-36.

3. Heavier base than the older bug; although the dimensions are about the same the Lionel weighs in at around 3.3 lbs while the Frattini bug is a hefty 4.3 lbs. The extra weight combined with the three clear rubber foot pads on the latter mean that it sticks to the operating table like it was glued down.


1. No manual or instruction sheet. For me this doesn’t matter, but for someone unfamiliar with the older J-36 bugs a simple list of set-up instructions would be helpful.

2. No speed-set markings on the flat pendulum arm. This is kind of a pain in the rear. Since I use a certain speed for most operating but a much lower speed setting for one particular net I was forced to put small black marks on the top edge of the pendulum arm using a Sharpie pen. A series of equally-spaced graduations on the top edge would be helpful (I guess I got spoiled by the older J-36).

3. No information provided on the exact sizes of the hex-head adjustment screws. At the very least the sizes should be identified, and given the price of the bug I think the wrenches should be included.

4. The price is quite high. At 435 Euro shipped it is roughly three times the cost of a new black-base Vibroplex Original Standard. That said, however, Vibroplex isn’t making any J-36/Lightning Bug models and hasn’t for decades, so to own a new bug of this style Alberto Frattini is really the only game in town.


Despite the high price and the aforementioned nits, I’m really glad that I bought this bug. Operationally it is exactly what I was looking for and the finish, construction quality and operating characteristics are excellent and suit my operating style perfectly. Well done, Alberto!
IZ0DDD Rating: 5/5 Dec 10, 2010 07:41 Send this review to a friend
My number 001 TYPE J36 CRHOME THE BEST  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
From my experience I realized that the semi-automatic called "Lightning" of Vibroplex, his copy for military use J36 and J36 of Lionel, are probably the best semi-automatic in the world. Unfortunately, their production has been stopped many years ago, so you can not buy a new one. Those that are for sale, as in good condition, they are not perfect. Fortunately I1QOD Alberto, one of the best manufacturers in the amateur of keys that I know, has built a new version of this bug with several enhancements that you can see directly to my site: on - MENU'- RACCONTI – IL MIO BUG.
The J36 CHROME TYPE Alberto, of which I possess the nr. 001 is the best bug I've ever used in my entire life. I think it is an object that can not fail to manipulation by those who truly love the bug and still do not think there will be a future, an artisan class and experience that Frattini will never build a key like that. For this reason, collectors should have it in their best pieces.
Natale Pappalardo op. Lino IZ0DDD
IZ8LGP Rating: 5/5 Sep 1, 2010 00:45 Send this review to a friend
Simply outstanding!  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
To get this bug, you have to wait 4-5 months, but, at least, you will own a real masterpiece.
Easy to adjust, smooth in operation, great feeling.
Each bug lover, should have it.
Thanks Alberto
IN3ACV Rating: 5/5 Mar 14, 2010 10:16 Send this review to a friend
It's an amazing key  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
The great surprise for me.
This key is wonderful.
It's smooth and accurate.

This is my 2 cent's.

73 de in3acv
IK5VLP Rating: 5/5 Mar 14, 2010 09:22 Send this review to a friend
Wonderful  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I've been one of the first amateurs to book this new key of Alberto I1QOD.
I have got two other jewels made by Alberto but I was rather surprise when I heard that Alberto was planning to build again the classic and famous bug J36 model; anyway, since I'm enthusiast with semiautomatic keys, I decided to order this other bug.

Few days ago I received the new key and I spent the time for the first adjustments and for comparisons with my old fantastic Lightning.

What a surprise: high level mechanical construction, lovely and shining chrome plated metal, pleasant and smooth manipulation, extended speed range (abt. 18 to 35 wpm) and easy adjustability for any different condition.

Thanks Alberto for this masterpiece.

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