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Xylophone

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Project by llwynog posted 1087 days ago 1550 views 11 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This xylophone was supposed to be a two-weekend project but it turned out spanning across 2-3 months as shop time became very scarce.

This is anything but fine woodworking as the resonator box is made of butt-joined and nailed plywood.

The bars are made of Paduk and tuning them was actually the most enjoyable part of the project. I have never played a musical instrument in my life so being able to get such a nice sound out of wood was rather magical to me.
To tune the bars, i used a freeware on my phone and the result sounds great to my untrained ears.

As plywood is rather ugly, I had to paint it and decided to experiment with a weathered look.

This was meant to be a gift to my son on the day his little sister got born, but I could not resist and gave it to him 1 week earlier.

Here is a quick video taken to give a rough idea of the sound. My phone’s microphone really does not do any justice to the rich and organic sound coming from the xylophone.

If some other people are interested in building the same project, the design is extensively based on a plan available from http://www.makeamarimba.com/

Cheers,

-- Fabrice - "On est bien bête mais on sent bien quand on se fait mal" - my grandfather





11 comments so far

View ChesapeakeBob's profile

ChesapeakeBob

341 posts in 2067 days


#1 posted 1087 days ago

Terriffic project, great video, and a fantatsic idea for Christmas gifts!

Thanks for a great post!

-- Chesapeake Bob, Southern Maryland

View Dusty56's profile

Dusty56

11638 posts in 2272 days


#2 posted 1086 days ago

Very cute son and also great sound coming from your project. I can’t believe it’s wood !

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View sras's profile

sras

3773 posts in 1713 days


#3 posted 1086 days ago

What a wonderful project! Thanks for taking the time to share it with us.

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View Ilija's profile

Ilija

40 posts in 1347 days


#4 posted 1086 days ago

Thanks for sharing, great build

-- Ilija Trajkoski

View ghazard's profile

ghazard

379 posts in 2094 days


#5 posted 1086 days ago

A W E S O M E!!!! I love this! This project just made it to the top of my “To build for the boys” list. (My twin boys are 2 months old.)

The sound is really quite something. What was the phone app that you used for tuning?

Thank you for posting this project. You did an excellent job on it. The treatment of the plywood is great.

Greg

-- "Hey, you dang woodchucks! Quit chuckin' my wood!"

View llwynog's profile

llwynog

282 posts in 1163 days


#6 posted 1086 days ago

Thank you everyone for your nice comments.

Greg,
My son is 18 month old and he seems to really enjoy playing with the xylophone. He spent a lot of time watching me through the window when I was building and tuning it and I think he is partly trying to emulate me.

The freeware I used to tune the bars is called gStrings and runs on Android phones. It is very accurate and easy to use (even for a non-musician such as me).
I built the bars out of paduk as I knew that – along with rosewoods – it was a very nice and tonal wood, but virtually any wood would still give a more than decent tone (beech, ash etc..). Recently I found a xylophone in a toy shop which was made completely out of pine; I was surprised to discover that the sound was actually very loud and nice, definitely good enough for children.
In a hurry, a no-frill version of this xylophone can indeed be built over the course of a weekend and does indeed make a very nice and original present.

-- Fabrice - "On est bien bête mais on sent bien quand on se fait mal" - my grandfather

View ghazard's profile

ghazard

379 posts in 2094 days


#7 posted 1086 days ago

Thanks, Fabrice…good info.

Now, this is just a curiosity question…what did you do to tune the pieces…were you changing thickness?

Greg

-- "Hey, you dang woodchucks! Quit chuckin' my wood!"

View ghazard's profile

ghazard

379 posts in 2094 days


#8 posted 1086 days ago

trimming length, I bet…?

-- "Hey, you dang woodchucks! Quit chuckin' my wood!"

View llwynog's profile

llwynog

282 posts in 1163 days


#9 posted 1086 days ago

The tone is linked with the length of the bars but you can’t trim the length of the bars in order to tune them.

The reason is that you need to fasten the bars to the frame of the xylophone at particular positions called nodal points. The location of these points is directly proportional to the length of the bars (they are the 2 point where the amplitude of the oscillation is null) so if you changed the length of the bar, you would need to rebuilt the entire frame of the xylophone to match the position of new nodal points… pretty inconvenient.

You were right in your 1st comment : you reduce the thickness of the bars in the middle to lower the tone.
On the longest bar, I had to take off nearly 2/3 off the bar thickness in the middle as it was almost a full octave higher. The rasping takes place on the bottom of the bars so you don’t see it when the xylophone is assembled but all bars have a curved surface on the bottom.

I hope the above is clear enough

-- Fabrice - "On est bien bête mais on sent bien quand on se fait mal" - my grandfather

View ghazard's profile

ghazard

379 posts in 2094 days


#10 posted 1085 days ago

ah….that makes sense. That is very interesting. Thanks for the time.

Greg

-- "Hey, you dang woodchucks! Quit chuckin' my wood!"

View Rob Drown's profile

Rob Drown

711 posts in 2417 days


#11 posted 1076 days ago

Very Cool project. Your son is adorable. Tuning well explained too Thanks

-- The expectations of life depend upon diligence; the mechanic that would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools. Confucius, 经过艰苦的努力的梦想可以成真

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