How to Build Blue Man Group PVC Tube Instruments


For fans of the Blue Man Group, the sound of their instruments, particularly the pipe instruments, create a unique sound. Learn how to build Blue Man Group PVC instruments, particularly the tubulum, the set of pipes that they whack with paddles to create notes. This is a variation arranging the pipes in a circle, with the pipes folded because of length. Read on to learn how to build Blue Man Group PVC tube instruments.

Things You'll Need

  • Three 10-foot lengths of 1 ½-inch diameter PVC pipe
  • Nine female-to-male 90-degree elbows
  • Nine female-to-female elbows
  • Saw
  • PVC glue
  • ½-inch plywood

Cutting the Pipes

  • Cut three lengths of PVC pipe for the lowest note, D, which is in the second octave below middle C. One piece will be 1030 millimeters, the next 51 mm and the next 514 mm. Because of the precise nature of creating these notes, the measurements are in millimeters. Remember that 1,000 millimeters are a little more than 39 inches.

  • Build the next higher note, A, in the second octave below middle C from one piece of 964 mm and one of 452 mm.

  • Go up to C, an octave below middle C, with one piece of 890 mm and one of 270 mm.

  • Fashion D, below middle C, from a piece of 754 mm and one of 261 mm.

  • Create F below middle C from a length of 673 mm pipe and one of 147 mm.

  • Prepare a 587 mm length of PVC and a 118 mm length to make G below middle C.

  • Reduce two pieces of PVC to a 500 mm length and a 112 mm length for A below middle C.

  • Make middle C from a 637 mm length of pipe. If it's too awkward for you, you can cut it and use an elbow like the other pipes.

Putting It All Together

  • Join the pieces of the pipes together with the elbow joints. Don't glue until you've tested the pitch. Remember to aim the bottom of the pipes upward.

  • Cut two 10-inch circles from ½-inch plywood, then cut eight holes in each circle for the pipes to fit through. Cut one in the center and space the other seven equally around the edge.

  • Build your Blue Man Group PVC tube instrument by putting the pipes through the holes in the circles, with low D in the center and working your way higher with consecutive notes. Be sure the top of the pipes are above the top circle so you can hit the pipes, not the wood, while you're playing.

Tips & Warnings

  • The advantage of putting the elbows in the pipes is that it directs the sound up rather than at the ground.
  • Tuning may vary slightly when you build your Blue Man Group PVC tube instruments because of differences in PVC pipe manufacturing. Cut about 5 cm longer than the stated dimensions, and you can always trim back.

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