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Musical Instruments #2: Starting the Marimba

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Blog entry by johnstoneb posted 11-20-2016 03:36 PM 761 reads 1 time favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Der Glockenspiel ist glockenspieling Part 2 of Musical Instruments series Part 3: Marimba Frame Time »

I have finally started on the marimba. I am following the plans I got from makeamarimba.com. They are a good plans although some times you have to translate from oz to usa english. I did a lot of searching on line on commercial marimbas and settled on padauk for the keyboard and cherry for the frame. The preferred wood for concert keyboards is rosewood. I called my hardwood supplier to get a price on rosewood when I was able to breath again I decided padauk was a good keyboard wood (most practice marimbas use padauk for the keyboard). Cherry was my wood of choice for the frame. It cost me less than mahogany and was an upgrade wood on commercial instruments.
The first thing the plans call for was to cut and rough tune the keyboard.

This was the first key cut. The keys all vary in length and width. I found the best thing to do was immediately label each key for the note it was to be. it saves a lot on confusion later.

All keys cut and laid out.

Time to tune. It is recommended to tune to about 20 cents sharp it is difficult to bring back if you go to the flat side of the note. I built the jig to hold the keys vertical so the belt sander would take material off evenly across the key. I had to build a second jig because the first wasn’t long enough when I got to the lower notes. Note to others build the jig to fit the longest key. I really like working with padauk definitely need to wear a dust mask. Shop was orange when I finished tuning. I am using an 80 grit belt plans recommended 60 grit. The 60 would take material off faster but make it easier to go too far. I am glad I stayed with the 80. I did have to recut one key because I went to far and when bringing it back I could tell looking at the profile next to the other keys what I had done. It did give me a key to later practice drilling holes on and other things so it probably saved me from more mistakes down the line.

I bought an electronic tuner on line similar to what the plans recommended. It was a good tuner the plans came with sound files for all the notes and for somebody with some musical aptitude. It would work very well. I have absolutely no musical aptitude. The tuner did not tell me what octave I was in. I found a tuner app for a kindle fire that gave me the note, the octave, and how far off. I think it cost about $3 It was a lifesaver.

With all the keys cut and rough tuned it is time to build the frame.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID



6 comments so far

View luv2learn's profile

luv2learn

2769 posts in 2330 days


#1 posted 11-20-2016 04:44 PM

Wow, Bruce you have tackled an intricate project. What made you decide to do this?

-- Lee - Northern idaho~"If the women don't find you handsome, at least they ought to find you handy"~ Red Green

View luv2learn's profile

luv2learn

2769 posts in 2330 days


#2 posted 11-20-2016 04:46 PM

Never mind, you explained the reason in your first post. My bad!!

-- Lee - Northern idaho~"If the women don't find you handsome, at least they ought to find you handy"~ Red Green

View Dutchy's profile

Dutchy

2987 posts in 2196 days


#3 posted 11-20-2016 04:49 PM

Bruce this is something I will follow with great interest. Thanks for contribution.

-- https://dutchypatterns.com/

View crowie's profile

crowie

2475 posts in 1978 days


#4 posted 11-20-2016 08:00 PM

I hope you will be able to post a video with sound of the completed item, please….

-- Lifes good, Enjoy each new day...... Cheers from "On Top DownUnder" Crowie

View johnstoneb's profile

johnstoneb

2942 posts in 2200 days


#5 posted 11-20-2016 08:45 PM

crowie
I will try to post a video when complete.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View crowie's profile

crowie

2475 posts in 1978 days


#6 posted 11-20-2016 08:49 PM



crowie
I will try to post a video when complete.

- johnstoneb

THANK YOU

-- Lifes good, Enjoy each new day...... Cheers from "On Top DownUnder" Crowie

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