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Making a copper tube xylophone or glockenspiel

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Project by Scott posted 581 days ago 12522 views 26 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Yes this is a wood project, just look at those dovetails in the base! I made this for a child’s Christmas present. It is a full C scale octave plus a high D. Of course you could add more tubes at either end to lengthen the scale, or even add the sharps and flats to make a more versatile instrument for adults.

I only had to buy the copper tubing, which is about $10 for a 10 foot section.

All you need is
  • 6 1/2 feet of 1/2 inch copper tubing; you can also use 1/2 inch electrical conduit but the lengths will be different
  • music tuner (buy one from Amazon for $10 or borrow one from your nearest garage band) or a phone app such as Fourier
  • 1/2 inch thick wood for a base
  • string to mount the tubes
  • plastic straw for separators

Copper tubes must be tuned to the correct frequency, and there is a lot of variation in the tubes. So cut your first tube maybe an inch larger than the table shows below. Measure in 22% from each end and temporarily suspend the tube from these points. Hit the tube in the middle with a piece of wood or dowel and measure the frequency using the music tuner. Now trim it down with a file and measure again. Repeat until you have the correct note.

After all the tubes are cut and tuned, drill a hole at each end of each tube at the 22% point. Use a marker to mark the note on each tube.

I made the mallets using some old tent poles for the handle, although you could use some dowel. I used a larger piece of dowel for the end, wrapped with a piece of cloth. The cloth makes the lower tones sound better.

C scale octave plus high D:
note/frequency (hz)/length (inches)
C 1046.5, 10 1/8 in
D 1174.7, 9 1/2
E 1318.5, 8 15/16
F 1396.9, 8 11/16
G 1568.0, 8 3/16
A 1760.0, 7 11/16
B 1975.5, 7 1/4
C 2093.0, 7
D 2349.3, 6 5/8

Here are some music sheets for simple and easy songs for the xylophone. The high C and high D are marked with a 2 suffix:

Twinkle twinkle little star
CC GG AA G
FF EE DD C
GG FF EE D
GG FF EE D
CC GG AA G
FF EE DD C

Jingle bells
BBB BBB B D2 G A B
C2C2C2 C2C2 BB BBB
A A B A D2
BBB BBB B D2 G A B
C2C2C2 C2C2 BB BB D2D2 C2 A G

-- Scott in North Carolina





12 comments so far

View HorizontalMike's profile

HorizontalMike

6905 posts in 1496 days


#1 posted 581 days ago

Very neat! I still lack any musical talents, but do appreciate others who have them and share. Thanks!

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View Buche's profile

Buche

52 posts in 1531 days


#2 posted 581 days ago

That’s one of the coolest projects I have seen on here in a long time!

Well done and thanks for sharing.

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

111999 posts in 2160 days


#3 posted 581 days ago

Thanks for sharing this cool project and all the details to make one .great job

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View Monte Pittman's profile (online now)

Monte Pittman

12856 posts in 921 days


#4 posted 581 days ago

Very cool. I should make some for grandsons. But their mother (my daughter) would take them away. She’s a tough one to seek past.

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it. - It's not ability that we often lack, but the patience to use our ability

View Doe's profile

Doe

909 posts in 1413 days


#5 posted 581 days ago

Neat project! Thanks for the details.

-- Mother Nature talks, I try to listen

View JoeinDE's profile

JoeinDE

355 posts in 1906 days


#6 posted 581 days ago

Nicely done. I am sure that the child will love it.

-- A bad craftsmen blames his cheap #$%ing tools

View Fishinbo's profile

Fishinbo

11202 posts in 758 days


#7 posted 581 days ago

Sweet! You’re making him a happy kid this Christmas.

http://www.sawblade.com

View nonickswood's profile

nonickswood

372 posts in 970 days


#8 posted 581 days ago

Very Nice!!
This is one for the Favorites!!

-- Nick, Virginia, http://www.etsy.com/shop/NONICKSWOOD

View NormG's profile

NormG

3930 posts in 1586 days


#9 posted 581 days ago

Great musical instrument and even better to have the instructions to make and tune

-- Norman

View lightweightladylefty's profile

lightweightladylefty

2575 posts in 2295 days


#10 posted 580 days ago

Scott,

Thanks for sharing all the details so we can all make them!

L/W

-- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View MrSamNC's profile

MrSamNC

27 posts in 938 days


#11 posted 579 days ago

Very nice! I know a nephew who would love one of these… may have to work on it. :) Thanks for sharing.

-- -Sam

View MrSamNC's profile

MrSamNC

27 posts in 938 days


#12 posted 579 days ago

Very nice! I know a nephew who would love one of these… may have to work on it. :) Thanks for sharing.

-- -Sam

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