How to Make Bamboo Musical Instruments

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Bamboo is an ancient material that has been used to produce musical instruments in almost every region of the world. Bamboo instruments create a particular quality and sound that is softer than other types of instruments. If you want to try some of the traditional techniques for making instruments, then learning how to make bamboo musical instruments can introduce you to a new world of sound.

Things You'll Need

  • Bamboo Welding torch (optional) Oven (optional) Steel rod Saw Sandpaper Drill Measuring tape
  • Pick your instrument. Before you begin cutting and altering bamboo, make sure you know what you are making. The most popular bamboo instruments include flutes, drums and alternative percussion. Within each of these, you can find various patterns. Flute choices include pan flutes and Chinese flutes, each of which produces a different sound. You can also consider options such as wind chimes, rainmakers or percussion boards.

  • Find your bamboo. The easiest way to get bamboo is to order processed bamboo that is ready to use. However, you can also order fresh, raw bamboo from various online sources or from those that harvest the plant. Make sure you specify the amount of bamboo you need, as well as the diameter of the bamboo.

  • Process the bamboo. If you have raw or fresh bamboo, you will need to process the bamboo first. In traditional times, bamboo was processed by sitting outdoors and drying for a number of years. However, you can find better solutions to this with newer ways of taking care of your bamboo. A simple way to process the bamboo is to use fire to dry out the bamboo. Cutting pieces of it and putting it in the oven or using a welding torch are simple ways to dry out the bamboo. When you do this, it should turn from green to brown.

  • Hollow out the bamboo. After your bamboo is completely dry, remove the internal part of the bamboo. You can start this by pushing out the internal area of the bamboo with a steel rod. You will get the best results by keeping only the thickness of the exterior wall, which produces a specific sound for your instrument.

  • Cut and define. Find a pattern for your musical instruments before you cut. Then, cut the length you need for your instrument. For wind chimes or a flute, you want the length that will produce a deeper or higher sound. For drums or percussion, cut the specific shape with the bamboo, such as a circular shape.

  • Measure the different cuts you need in the musical instrument. For a flute, you will want to measure the spacing and size for a hole for the mouth piece and key spacing and will want to drill this into the correct places. For drums and percussion, tie together the bamboo so it creates the correct sound.

  • Finishing. After the model and figure is complete, make sure the bamboo is attractive on the outside as well. Use sandpaper to smooth the bamboo. You can also apply a finish to the bamboo to preserve it.

Tips & Warnings

  • Start with simple instruments like wind chimes, then work up to other types of instruments like flutes.
  • When you are drilling and cutting, make sure the spacing of your length and cuts matches the specific tone you need. Even 1/4 of an inch can make a difference in the tone that is produced.

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