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Tongue Drum

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Project by BlueRocco posted 03-29-2009 06:32 AM 20459 views 57 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Here is a tongue drum I finished not too long ago. It is made of Oak and Purpleheart. Fantastic tone from this. I have it tuned to a Bb pentatonic scale. It took me quite a bit of research to find out how to calculate the relative length of the tongues and how to adjust the tuning for them. I now have a proportioned drawing that I can scale up or down to change the pitch. I used an Incra jig to make the box joints, My router to rabbit the bottom. It took almost two hours to scroll saw the top … both sides of each line. I ended up with a continuous piece of wood that came out of the top for the tongue outlines. The sun I carved in by hand and I drilled three star holes so I would have some place to store the mallets. I made the mallets out of a couple of piece of 1/4” oak dowel and two supper balls. It is finished with poly. After It dried for three days and got really hard, I buffed it with the Beale buffing system. Love that buffing system, I use it on just about everything I do.

Hello again, As far as I know, this is NOT a North American Native American Instrument. I believe what I read was that the Aztecs first started using log drums made like this. And there is some similarity to some African log drums as well. I noticed there were some inquiries as to a pattern/blog for this drum. I did a presentation for my local wood working club and put together a hand out for it. Here is a copy of the handout. I used a 17×11 piece of paper to do a full scale print out. Hopefully some of you can download this and print it out to scale. Have Fun!

-- Micheal, Boise, Id





16 comments so far

View lclashley's profile

lclashley

244 posts in 2768 days


#1 posted 03-29-2009 06:42 AM

Very Cool Micheal! I’d love to hear it.

View BigFoot Products Canada's profile

BigFoot Products Canada

620 posts in 2046 days


#2 posted 03-29-2009 12:49 PM

Neet.. Who uses those? Is that a native instrument?

View Terry's profile

Terry

173 posts in 2287 days


#3 posted 03-29-2009 03:24 PM

Michael that is very very nice. I love the carved sun sound hole. I have a grand daughter that would love one. Would you share your pattern?

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

3964 posts in 2717 days


#4 posted 03-29-2009 05:26 PM

Way sweet! If you’re sharing your pattern or blogging the process, I’d like to know too!

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

112087 posts in 2230 days


#5 posted 03-29-2009 05:47 PM

Nice work I understand paydauk has great tonal qualities also.

Jim

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

18615 posts in 2814 days


#6 posted 03-30-2009 12:09 AM

beautiful!

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (https://www.facebook.com/DebbiePribeleENJOConsultant)

View BlueRocco's profile

BlueRocco

49 posts in 2001 days


#7 posted 03-30-2009 06:19 AM

Thanks for all the kind words. I edited the project. Added the design sheet that I used. If you can capture the picture and print it out to scale, you should just glue it to a piece of wood and cut it out. The dashed lines represent the interior lines of the box below. Make it as deep as you like, it should be 4” or deeper. I also found that if I used felt circles for feet, I could get a better sound out of it. If you put hard feet on the drum box, if jumps around on the table and makes a terrible noise:)

-- Micheal, Boise, Id

View pinkfish's profile

pinkfish

170 posts in 2324 days


#8 posted 03-31-2009 01:23 AM

What sort of research did you do on lengths and tuning? I would be interested to know so as to figure out how to tune/change the design?

View BlueRocco's profile

BlueRocco

49 posts in 2001 days


#9 posted 03-31-2009 01:58 AM

Ok, Here you go for length and tuning I found this to be the best information I could find;
The width doesn’t have much effect, but the thickness and length do. Removing wood from the tip of the tongue makes the pitch higher, from the base of the tongue makes it lower. If you want to get a close to a particular tuning before tuning the thickness, you can calculate the lengths. Every 3% increase in length makes the tone lower by one semitone. So to get a pentatonic scale, you make six bars by multiplying the length of the longest by the following percentages: 94, 87, 82, 77, 71. Alternatively you can work out how long the middle pair of bars will be, halve it, and multiply that by these percentages: 84, 89, 97, 103, 109, 119. Then build the three pairs as 84&119, 89&109, 97&103, and tune it by removing wood from underneath. For a vibrating string it’s about 6%, but vibrating bars don’t work like that. This answer is theoretical only but should work. The length of the tongue should determine the pitch produced so first thing is to both determine the pitch you want and find something like a tuning fork, piano, synthesizer or oscilator which can produce it at will. Then make a single tongue and see how its pitch compares to you source pitch. Just keep cutting bits off till you get it right. Measure the length of this tongue. Now a tongue twice as long should have a fundamental frequency half that of your first tongue or an octave below. Now you have the information you need to convert length to pitch. You will have to visit the Internet to find the intervals in the western music system because the 12 notes in western music are not linear steps like the 21 in Indian or Asian music. Then all you need do is convert musical intervals to mm and cut away.
Hope this helps.

-- Micheal, Boise, Id

View cabinetmaster's profile

cabinetmaster

10874 posts in 2211 days


#10 posted 03-31-2009 02:06 AM

COOOOOOOOOL. My grandkids would love this.

-- Jerry--A man can never have enough tools or clamps

View Dennis Zongker's profile

Dennis Zongker

2423 posts in 2245 days


#11 posted 04-04-2009 09:10 PM

Sweet!

-- Dennis Zongker

View mcoyfrog's profile

mcoyfrog

3166 posts in 2248 days


#12 posted 04-17-2009 02:32 AM

I love this, Me and my son just made some and they sound sooooooo cool i can play for hours…

-- Wood and Glass they kick (well you know) Have a great day - Dug

View johnpoolesc's profile

johnpoolesc

246 posts in 2013 days


#13 posted 04-17-2009 02:36 AM

that is way cool, but how do you play it with your tounge?

-- It's not a sickness, i can stop buying tools anytime.

View oldironleather's profile

oldironleather

1 post in 1856 days


#14 posted 08-19-2009 02:12 AM

That’s really nice.
There’s a guy that’s been doing these forever who has plans and templates available.
Magical tongue drums, with all the tricks to get the cool harmonic tones and all that.
Dialing in the sound can be tricky, and this is the key to the kingdom.
Check out http://tonguedrum.com/construction.html

View 6strings's profile

6strings

2 posts in 1627 days


#15 posted 04-05-2010 04:15 PM

Hi -
I am new here – I was wondering if anyone got a copy of this plan ?

“here is a copy of the handout. I used a 17×11 piece of paper to do a full scale print out. Hopefully some of you can download this and print it out to scale. Have Fun!”

Thanks !!

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