Another bowed keyboard

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Project by JonJ posted 08-12-2008 10:46 PM 3014 views 0 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Another bowed keyboard
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This is more of a prototype than anything, made from 2×4’s and plywood. This is another attempt to produce sound by mechanically bowing something (in this case tuned brass rods) and selecting notes with a keyboard. This instrument only has 24 notes, the reason so few is, it produces vibrations using the length of the brass rods. More notes would have quickly made this thing 20 ft or more long to get low notes. I may someday build something that uses rods mounted in the rafters of a building, but for now this “scratched my itch” to build something that sounds a bit like bowed glass. This photo was taken at a folk music festival my hometown is trying to get rolling. This was it’s second year, and I had my wheelharp (see my other projects for it) and a few other things on display. It went pretty well, and I hope to build something new to put on display every year and help breathe a little life back into our old town.

I was going to paint this instrument to hide the pine, but just couldn’t bring myself to do it…

I’ll try and figure out how to post a recording of it soon- I think it sounds pretty neat, but most people tend to lean a little more towards “creepy” when they descibe what it sounds like.

-- Jon

13 comments so far

View Callum Kendall's profile

Callum Kendall

1918 posts in 3905 days

#1 posted 08-12-2008 10:56 PM


Thanks for the post


-- For wood working podcasts with a twist check out

View brianinpa's profile


1812 posts in 3925 days

#2 posted 08-13-2008 12:40 AM

Those legs look great. I’m glad you didn’t paint it.

-- Brian, Lebanon PA, If you aren’t having fun doing it, find something else to do.

View Karson's profile


35148 posts in 4602 days

#3 posted 08-13-2008 12:51 AM

John another unique instrument.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia †

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6866 posts in 4181 days

#4 posted 08-13-2008 02:19 AM

Hi Jon;

Very Creative!


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View griff's profile


1207 posts in 3964 days

#5 posted 08-13-2008 04:08 AM

Very nice, I like the legs Very good build

-- Mike, Bruce Mississippi = Jack of many trades master of none

View jeanmarc's profile


1899 posts in 3918 days

#6 posted 08-13-2008 12:50 PM

very nice.good job

-- jeanmarc manosque france

View Thor's profile


110 posts in 4478 days

#7 posted 08-13-2008 04:06 PM

I’ll look forward to hearing the sound.
It sure is a pretty instument. I’m also impressed with the materials used. Very clever.

View jm82435's profile


1285 posts in 3944 days

#8 posted 08-13-2008 04:28 PM

Looks great, can we hear it maybe an MP3 or video?

-- A thing of beauty is a joy forever...

View JonJ's profile


163 posts in 4042 days

#9 posted 08-13-2008 04:47 PM

Looks great, can we hear it maybe an MP3 or video?

That will be my next project- figuring out how to post a sound/video sample.
Now, If I could only remember my photobucket password…

-- Jon

View scottishrose's profile


110 posts in 3367 days

#10 posted 10-15-2009 02:26 AM

Bowed glass sounds a bit close to a glass harmonica to me. You are just using very clean fingers instead of a bow on the glass to get the vibration as the glasses spin. You can play many at a time that way.

View a1Jim's profile


117328 posts in 3779 days

#11 posted 10-15-2009 02:39 AM


-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View crosseyedcarver's profile


226 posts in 3239 days

#12 posted 02-09-2010 11:09 PM

keep trying for what you want. practice makes perfect.

-- Tim, Tallahasse FL

View MitchM's profile


4 posts in 3177 days

#13 posted 04-03-2010 09:05 AM

I like it! Have you ever heard an “aluminum harp”? It would be cool to make a keyboard instrument that plays one of those.

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