|Project by GnarlyErik||posted 10-23-2012 02:52 AM||18551 views||30 times favorited||14 comments|
Four more tongue drums
I have just completed my last four drums for my grandchildren, so that will probably be it for tongue drums for awhile for me. These are three sizes, with the sounding boards being the same size. #1 is a mahogany sounding board and oak sides and ends, 3-1/2” high. #2 and #3 are identical as they are for twins. These have cherry sounding boards with cedar sides and ends, and are 7” high. #4 is a padauk sounding board with maple sides and cherry ends, and is 9-1/2” high. This one also has mahogany intarsias laid into the sides for decoration.
After building six drums, and trying various experiments, here are a few things I have learned:
1: Height or depth makes a difference in sound as may be expected, giving a deeper tone, although the shallower ones sound fine too and have the advantage of being lighter and much easier to manage and carry about. Note I have started adding carry handles for convenience;
2: Softwood sides give a more mellow sound, more pleasant to my ear, hardwoods provide a sharper more ‘percussive’ voice. Some of my drums have been made with small decorative sound holes in the sides, and some without, but it doesn’t seem to make much difference since most of the sound comes thru the openings in the sound board and via the vibrations of the instrument as a whole – which is surprisingly vigorous when you put your hand on it;
3: Here’s are my choices of soundboards in order: Cherry, padauk, Honduras mahogany. Note these are the only ones I have tried so far. I was surprised the cherry sounded better than the padauk to me;
4: I managed to ‘tune’ the flat or ‘buzz’ sounds out of any tongues by adding slugs of the same material underneath and near the fixed ends with screws and glue. The size of the slugs control the tone, and if they are fixed further out on the tongue, they aren’t as effective. The last picture in the album above shows these slugs installed on the underside of tongues of one of these drums. If I build any more drums, I will attempt to tune to a scale, which I have not done so far;
5: The most laborious part of building these is the sanding of the slits and ends of the tongues, but I found a way around this by creating sanding ‘blades’ for my scroll saw. Once I figured that out, things became much easier;
6: If I build any more of these, my material choices will be: White pine sides, cherry sound board and ends.
UPDATE 6/26/2015: I’ve made a new blog entry to pass along a few things I’ve learned to help those who may wish to build any of these:
-- "Never let your dogma get run over by your karma!"