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All Replies on Has anyone made a marimba?

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View Marcus's profile

Has anyone made a marimba?

by Marcus
posted 415 days ago


20 replies so far

View Charlie's profile

Charlie

1008 posts in 913 days


#1 posted 415 days ago

Here you go!

Link to PDF file

That what you’re looking for?

View Marcus's profile

Marcus

1041 posts in 646 days


#2 posted 415 days ago

Thats pretty much exactly what I spent all last night looking for. Thanks for the help.

View Charlie's profile

Charlie

1008 posts in 913 days


#3 posted 415 days ago

When you build the resonator tubes, make the plugs for the bottom a nice press fit but don’t plaster them permanent until after you tune it. :)

View Sanding2day's profile

Sanding2day

953 posts in 473 days


#4 posted 415 days ago

Very cool Charlie, thanks for sharing… Had to go look as I had no idea what a Marimba was… My mother plays piano/organ etc professionally and am sure would enjoy receiving one of these if I ever get a wild hair, have saved the PDF. Thanks for sharing…

-- Dan

View Marcus's profile

Marcus

1041 posts in 646 days


#5 posted 415 days ago

Charlie – Have you made one before? Any other tips/pointers? Im not expecting to get a concert quality marimba, but would like something that looks/sounds nice.

View Loren's profile

Loren

7398 posts in 2274 days


#6 posted 415 days ago

Get Bart Hopkins’s “Musical Instrument Design”.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

View Charlie's profile

Charlie

1008 posts in 913 days


#7 posted 415 days ago

I make all kinds of weird stuff. Yes, I made a Marimba about 30 years ago. Several of them. The resonator tubes didn’t require much work as far as tuning. The bars can get interesting. You will be sanding the backs and a small mistake can throw off the bar. But you’ll be sanding a lot off of many of them. The bars don’t have to be rosewood. I used oak and it sounded fine. The bars get really concave on the back (underside). Run felt on the top edges of your stretchers (where the bars sit), then pegs to keep the bars lined up (they need to be very loose), then a piece of exercise band (like surgical tubing) over each peg to cushion the bar and keep it from striking the stretcher, then run your cord through each bar.

When you tighten the cord it should lift the bars just barely off the rubber tubing but not off the peg.

And there ya have it! hehehe….

View Tennessee's profile

Tennessee

1447 posts in 1141 days


#8 posted 415 days ago

Wow…when I first printed out that PDF, I thought to myself, here’s a great project for my kingwood. Then I got to looking at all the dimensions and how much kingwood I would chew up, and put it away. Then I read that oak works, and now it might be out and about again! If I can squeeze it in amongst all my other things, that is.

-- Paul, Tennessee, http://www.tsunamiguitars.com

View Marcus's profile

Marcus

1041 posts in 646 days


#9 posted 415 days ago

heh, simple as that Charlie? I should be done this evening =)

It should be a fun project, looking forward to starting on it actually. Thanks for the PDF and the help.

View Charlie's profile

Charlie

1008 posts in 913 days


#10 posted 415 days ago

Hey I once made a curly didgeridoo out of leather strips dipped in varnish. Looked like something out of a Dr Seuss book, but it worked! hehehe

View Marcus's profile

Marcus

1041 posts in 646 days


#11 posted 415 days ago

Alright Charlie, you can’t make claims like that without a picture and ideally a video of you playing it. I’m picturing norm dressed in aboriginal garb dancing around w/ a didgeridoo (I never knew how to spell that before, thanks)

View LakeLover's profile

LakeLover

275 posts in 566 days


#12 posted 415 days ago

Charlie, Good link.

In the high school music class, my teacher could make a Marimba come alive. It was a wonder to hear.

I have often though about building one. Now after seeing the instructions, maybe not.

View Planeman40's profile

Planeman40

470 posts in 1387 days


#13 posted 415 days ago

” I used oak and it sounded fine”

That is an interesting comment Charlie. I kinda gather that any hard and dense wood might work. I have always contemplated building a marimba and I even remember seeing that article when I was a kid reading Popular Mechanics, Popular Science, and Science and Mechanics magazines in the 1950s. The classic wood has always been Brazilian rosewood, but today that would cost a fortune! I guess the way to tell would be to make one bar in mid range from different woods, tune them, and listen. It would be an interesting experiment.

Planeman

-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

View Charlie's profile

Charlie

1008 posts in 913 days


#14 posted 414 days ago

If you want to try different woods for the bars, just make a test stand with a single resonator tube. Then you can cut some bars out of whatever woods are readily available to you and give ‘em a try.

Marcus, I’ve seen lots of spellings for didgeridoo before. I just chose one that looked easy to remember. Aboriginal folks didn’t spell it. They just spoke it. It was us white people that had to define it with a spelling and we screwed that up … heheheh.

Weird musical instruments….. I once made a Shaman’s fiddle out of a horse skull.
Most recently I was shown by the last remaining Lakota Sioux flute maker how to make wooden flutes in the style of his ancestors. I’ve made a few flutes and have enough aromatic cedar blanks to make about 6 or 8 more.

Most of this stuff takes up far less space than a marimba. :)

View Marcus's profile

Marcus

1041 posts in 646 days


#15 posted 414 days ago

I actually scored a great deal on some lumber in an auction, about 20bd ft of spanish cedar and what was just listed as “lumber” for about $17. The lumber ended up being one chunk of about 9/4 padauk, about 15 bd ft of it. I had always heard that padauk worked pretty well for marimbas and I have a 2 year old…that seemed like a good combo and a reason to try my hand at music making.

View Rick M.'s profile

Rick M.

3872 posts in 1007 days


#16 posted 414 days ago

You can use any kind of wood but it does make a big difference in tone. Woods like rosewood or padauk ring like a bell while others like oak are duller. When picking out some padauk for xylophone keys I took along a ‘mallet’ made from a dowel and maple ball to tap pieces until I found a really nice sound.

-- |Statistics show that 100% of people bitten by a snake were close to it.|

View Marcus's profile

Marcus

1041 posts in 646 days


#17 posted 414 days ago

I’m pretty much such with the padauk I have. Since this is a side “fun” project, I’m looking to spend as little add possible.

The stock is large enough that I think I can make all keys either quarter or flat sawn. Does anyone know if there is a preferred method?

View shampeon's profile

shampeon

1346 posts in 810 days


#18 posted 414 days ago

Nice. Padauk will make a beautiful marimba. The thin layer of fine, red dust everywhere is totally worth it.

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

View Marcus's profile

Marcus

1041 posts in 646 days


#19 posted 414 days ago

I can’t even begin to count the times I’ve said “I’m never working with padauk again”. Worst saw dust I’ve ever seen, but such a beautiful accent wood.

View Rick M.'s profile

Rick M.

3872 posts in 1007 days


#20 posted 413 days ago

Marcus, we tapped on both quarter and flat sawn and ended up using flat sawn. I can’t remember if it rang better or just made no difference. Also, we didn’t bother making the keys concave on the bottom but just a square cut out, only because I don’t own a bandsaw. I cut the keys to length, identified the nodes, made a crosscut approx 2/3 deep on each end with the table saw, popped out the waste with a chisel, then used chisels and sandpaper to get the correct tuning.

-- |Statistics show that 100% of people bitten by a snake were close to it.|

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