Instrument Building

My Plan

As part of my course, I have been asked to build an instrument from scratch. We don’t have all the time in the world, so when making my decision I had to be realistic.

I decided to make a percussion instrument. My idea is to collect 6 average sized beer bottles, drink the beer and then use them to make a xylophone like instrument. I will make a box from wood, have the 6 bottles in a row, fill them with different amounts of water and strike them with a beater. I am hoping this will create an impressive sound and work well with other instruments.

The good thing about this decision of course, is that if my first attempt doesn’t go to plan, I will have an excuse to drink another 6 bottles of beer. Sweet!

Week 1. I got straight to work as soon as I had arrived at the workshop. I brainstormed ideas and thought about how I could make my idea work. I then started to think about measurements and materials. I sketched my ideas down onto paper to give myself and the guys at the workshop a clearer idea of my project. The idea was there and I am ready to get stuck in at my next session.

Week 2. This week, I started by drawing out an actual size sketch of my instrument. As it stands at the moment, it measures 18mm x 15mm x 50mm. This could very possibly change when I start cutting the wood however. I sketched it from different views too, again to make things clearer.

I then looked at different types of wood and made a decision on which would be most suitable for my instrument. Unfortunately, the most suitable type of wood involved me spending the rest of the session destroying drawers. I needed the bottom of the drawers so I had to separate that from the rest. So, I took a hammer and made that happen. I also needed to remove all of the staples to make it safe to work with. This took me up to the end of the session.

Here we have the remains of the drawers. This is what I will be using to build the box.

BBX wood

Week 3: I started by cutting my wood down to the correct sizes. However.. after doing this I had a different idea in terms of how the box would look and how it would hold the bottles. So, I drew out some new ideas for the shape of the box. I have decided on a new style and in next weeks session I will put this new idea to work.

Week 4: After more mind changing and sketches, I have got my final design.  In the last session my instrument is finally looking like, well, an instrument.  I cut more wood to size for my latest design.  I also cut 6 holes in the one piece of wood for my bottles to go through.  With a bit of help I glued the box together and left it there to dry.

I will pick it up next week and add finishing touches.  I will also make one or two beaters to play the finished instrument.

Week 5: I collected my box which was now securely glued and realised that I needed to do one more thing.  This was attaching supportive blocks of wood in each corner as the box was slightly wobbly.  So, I cut the blocks from more wood, glued them into place and applied pressure with clamps.  I left it to dry, removed the clamps and it is complete!

Here is an image of the “Beer Bottle Xylophone”

Finished Instrument

And here it is in action:

Oh and in the time I’ve been doing this, I’ve also been building various circuits…

Photo_00003 Photo_00004


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