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My 'Plank Organ' made with two Tongue Drums

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Project by GnarlyErik posted 06-02-2021 11:17 PM 707 views 3 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Most people know about ‘Pipe Organs’, but have you ever heard of a ‘Plank Organ’? Me neither!

A while back I made a number of ‘Tongue Drums’ for adult kids and grandkids. I kept two of them for myself because I find they’re a great way to release stress. One has a cherry wood top, and the larger one has a padauk top. The larger one has about 25% more volume than the smaller. The long sides are hard maple, and the ends of the smaller is walnut, and the larger one is cherry. They each have thin, removable bottoms for resonance.

To make them the right height for stand alone playing I eventually made a small stand for one of them. After experimenting with playing them together later, I discovered that because they are roughly one octave apart they sound really good played together, at least to my ear. It’s a bit like a xylophone in a way.

That impelled me to build another stand, ‘shotgunned’ off the first one. I also gave each a slight angle so my drum mallets wouldn’t hit on the edge. I’ve noticed that most drummers have their drums at various inclines I suppose for the same reason. I did not have the Plank Organ completed when the video in the link below was created.

Anyway, this arrangement became my ‘Plank Organ’ which I love playing now. For a video of the way they sound, visit the YouTube video link below. The video was made before I made the stand pictured. Please keep in mind that I am not a musician and my ‘playing’ is all ad lib and to no particular tune (I AM getting a little better!):

YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=msm8fDqZpnk

June 6, 2021 edit: Due to the interest shown, and questions asked, I’ve made a couple of blog posts for details on creating the sound board, and making tongue drum mallets:

Sound Board: https://www.lumberjocks.com/GnarlyErik/blog/132576

Mallets: https://www.lumberjocks.com/GnarlyErik/blog/132577

June 9, 2021 edit: Making individual tongue drum keys for utilizing narrow stock and easier tuning: https://www.lumberjocks.com/GnarlyErik/blog/132581

-- "Never let your dogma be run over by your karma!"





8 comments so far

View robscastle's profile

robscastle

7948 posts in 3324 days


#1 posted 06-03-2021 03:27 AM

A intriguing project and an unexpected result , ..loved the vid.

I am temped to do a build for the grandson!

-- Regards Rob

View GnarlyErik's profile

GnarlyErik

357 posts in 3254 days


#2 posted 06-03-2021 05:00 AM

Thanks Rob -

I have built a dozen or so of these now – some have been posted on Lumberjocks. What I have learned is that;

1- the amount of enclosed space makes a big difference as a resonating chamber, and,

2 – wood type and thickness for the tongue top also makes a difference. I have used only hardwood so far and have never tried softwood, but am tempted to try western fir, old growth yellow pine or something near those;

3 – you want a fairly dense wood for the top and each variety has a characteristic ‘voice’. A good piece should ‘ring’ when you hold it next to your ear and tap it with your fingernail. I have tried many varieties and Cherry is my favorite so far.

I hope you do do a build!

Erik

-- "Never let your dogma be run over by your karma!"

View PaulDoug's profile

PaulDoug

2569 posts in 2823 days


#3 posted 06-03-2021 02:39 PM

Those looks and sound real nice… I have made several “tongue Drums”. They are fun… My best sounding one had Purpleheart on top…

-- “We all die. The goal isn't to live forever; the goal is to create something that will.” - Chuck Palahniuk

View GnarlyErik's profile

GnarlyErik

357 posts in 3254 days


#4 posted 06-03-2021 02:53 PM

Thanks Paul -
They are fun. I think density of the top is critical. I think I have an end-cut from purple heart in my scavenge stack. Maybe I’ll give it a try!

Cheers,
Erik

-- "Never let your dogma be run over by your karma!"

View robscastle's profile

robscastle

7948 posts in 3324 days


#5 posted 06-03-2021 10:51 PM

OK I have decided to take a crack at this Drum, I have some timber available that I prepared last week of which I can experiment with see Project

https://www.lumberjocks.com/projects/420022

What I would like to know is the dimensions of the top, no doubt I will have to edge join a couple of planks the get the required dimensions. This could be done in a variety of ways.
1. Joining two planks at the mid point, but it may change the note due to many factors , glue etc.
2. I may be able to double the length and duplicate the octave planks.
3. I may also be able to butt join on 2 x edges to get the required width.

how did you make the the mallet and what was the poly ball made from?

I am off looking for the others you constructed.

OK found most of what I was asking.

https://www.lumberjocks.com/GnarlyErik/blog/60610

Standby!

-- Regards Rob

View GnarlyErik's profile

GnarlyErik

357 posts in 3254 days


#6 posted 06-04-2021 04:47 AM

Rob – I may have some suggestions for you regarding your top and joining your narrow stock that you show in your pictures, if you have a planer. If I can find time tomorrow I will make a couple sketches and post them for you. You can can achieve the same thing without a planer of course, just more sweat input.

I’ll do my best to post sketches tomorrow. As for tuning, I’ve found that to be quite challenging. I know you can tune spot on, but it is tedious, time-consuming and futzy work. There’s quite a bit of science in the harmonics of wood. I simply try for ‘near enough’ and ‘sounds good‘.

Cheers,
Erik

-- "Never let your dogma be run over by your karma!"

View swirt's profile

swirt

6277 posts in 4091 days


#7 posted 06-05-2021 01:28 AM

Very cool. Thanks for the sound demo too. It makes me want to try building one.

-- Galootish log blog, http://www.timberframe-tools.com

View GnarlyErik's profile

GnarlyErik

357 posts in 3254 days


#8 posted 06-07-2021 01:15 AM



OK I have decided to take a crack at this Drum, I have some timber available that I prepared last week of which I can experiment with see Project

https://www.lumberjocks.com/projects/420022

What I would like to know is the dimensions of the top, no doubt I will have to edge join a couple of planks the get the required dimensions. This could be done in a variety of ways.
1. Joining two planks at the mid point, but it may change the note due to many factors , glue etc.
2. I may be able to double the length and duplicate the octave planks.
3. I may also be able to butt join on 2 x edges to get the required width.

how did you make the the mallet and what was the poly ball made from?

I am off looking for the others you constructed.

OK found most of what I was asking.

https://www.lumberjocks.com/GnarlyErik/blog/60610

Standby!

- robscastle

Rob – ‘Ive posted a detailed blog entry on the mechanics of building Tongue Drums, and will add more info as I have the time. Full sized patterns for my twelve-key drum are included. I’ve had questions on mallets, etc., and will post on those in due course.

I have an idea which I expressed earlier about building the tops out of narrow stock which I think should work quite well, and I’ll try to post that soon too.

Link to blog: https://www.lumberjocks.com/GnarlyErik/blog/132576

-- "Never let your dogma be run over by your karma!"

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