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Has anyone made a marimba?

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Forum topic by Marcus posted 422 days ago 656 views 2 times favorited 20 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Marcus

1044 posts in 653 days


422 days ago

Looking for key length and resonator lengths and surprisingly, it seems to be a well kept secret. Just curious if anyone has done any research out there on this.


20 replies so far

View Charlie's profile

Charlie

1008 posts in 920 days


#1 posted 422 days ago

Here you go!

Link to PDF file

That what you’re looking for?

View Marcus's profile

Marcus

1044 posts in 653 days


#2 posted 422 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 920 days


#3 posted 422 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

963 posts in 480 days


#4 posted 422 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

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Marcus

1044 posts in 653 days


#5 posted 422 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

7439 posts in 2281 days


#6 posted 422 days ago

Get Bart Hopkins’s “Musical Instrument Design”.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

View Charlie's profile

Charlie

1008 posts in 920 days


#7 posted 422 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 1148 days


#8 posted 422 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

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Marcus

1044 posts in 653 days


#9 posted 422 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 920 days


#10 posted 422 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

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Marcus

1044 posts in 653 days


#11 posted 422 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 573 days


#12 posted 422 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

472 posts in 1394 days


#13 posted 422 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 920 days


#14 posted 421 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. :)

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Marcus

1044 posts in 653 days


#15 posted 421 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.

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