LumberJocks

Making a copper tube xylophone or glockenspiel

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Project by flowerdog posted 12-05-2012 03:24 PM 91204 views 28 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Yes this is a wood project, just look at those dovetails in the base! I made this for a child’s Christmas present. It is a full C scale octave plus a high D. Of course you could add more tubes at either end to lengthen the scale, or even add the sharps and flats to make a more versatile instrument for adults.

I only had to buy the copper tubing, which is about $10 for a 10 foot section.

All you need is
  • 6 1/2 feet of 1/2 inch copper tubing; you can also use 1/2 inch electrical conduit but the lengths will be different
  • music tuner (buy one or borrow one from your nearest garage band) or use a phone app
  • 1/2 inch thick wood for a base
  • string to mount the tubes
  • plastic straw for separators

Copper tubes must be tuned to the correct frequency, and there is a lot of variation in the tubes. So cut your first tube maybe a 1/4 inch larger than the table shows below. Measure in 22% from each end and temporarily suspend the tube from these points, using two strings with a loop on the end of each. Hit the tube in the middle with a piece of wood or dowel and measure the frequency using the music tuner. Now trim it down with a file and measure again. Repeat until you have the correct note.

After all the tubes are cut and tuned, drill a hole at each end of each tube at the 22% point. Use a marker to mark the note on each tube.

Wood base total length is 13 3/4”, one side 8”, the other side is 6”, all three boards 3” wide.

I made the mallets using some old tent poles for the handle, although you could use some dowel. I used a larger piece of dowel for the end, wrapped with a piece of cloth. The cloth makes the lower tones sound better.

C scale octave plus high D:
note/frequency (hz)/length (inches)
C 1046.5, 10 1/8 in
D 1174.7, 9 1/2
E 1318.5, 8 15/16
F 1396.9, 8 11/16
G 1568.0, 8 3/16
A 1760.0, 7 11/16
B 1975.5, 7 1/4
C 2093.0, 7
D 2349.3, 6 5/8

Here are some music sheets for simple and easy songs for the xylophone. The high C and high D are marked with a 2 suffix:

Twinkle twinkle little star
CC GG AA G
FF EE DD C
GG FF EE D
GG FF EE D
CC GG AA G
FF EE DD C

Jingle bells
BBB BBB B D2 G A B
C2C2C2 C2C2 BB BBB
A A B A D2
BBB BBB B D2 G A B
C2C2C2 C2C2 BB BB D2D2 C2 A G

Video of it in action:
http://www.youtube.com/embed/_3cGvWlnVsM





14 comments so far

View HorizontalMike's profile

HorizontalMike

7934 posts in 4251 days


#1 posted 12-05-2012 03:35 PM

Very neat! I still lack any musical talents, but do appreciate others who have them and share. Thanks!

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View Buche's profile

Buche

71 posts in 4286 days


#2 posted 12-05-2012 04:08 PM

That’s one of the coolest projects I have seen on here in a long time!

Well done and thanks for sharing.

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

118309 posts in 4914 days


#3 posted 12-05-2012 04:22 PM

Thanks for sharing this cool project and all the details to make one .great job

-- https://www.artisticwoodstudio.com/videos

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30662 posts in 3675 days


#4 posted 12-05-2012 04:41 PM

Very cool. I should make some for grandsons. But their mother (my daughter) would take them away. She’s a tough one to seek past.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View Doe's profile

Doe

1440 posts in 4167 days


#5 posted 12-05-2012 07:10 PM

Neat project! Thanks for the details.

-- Mother Nature talks, I try to listen

View JoeinDE's profile

JoeinDE

450 posts in 4660 days


#6 posted 12-05-2012 08:03 PM

Nicely done. I am sure that the child will love it.

-- https://www.etsy.com/shop/JMsWoodCreations

View Fishinbo's profile

Fishinbo

11362 posts in 3512 days


#7 posted 12-05-2012 09:41 PM

Sweet! You’re making him a happy kid this Christmas.

http://www.sawblade.com

View nonickswood's profile

nonickswood

570 posts in 3724 days


#8 posted 12-05-2012 11:27 PM

Very Nice!!
This is one for the Favorites!!

-- Nick, Virginia, http://www.etsy.com/shop/NONICKSWOOD

View NormG's profile

NormG

6575 posts in 4341 days


#9 posted 12-06-2012 12:43 AM

Great musical instrument and even better to have the instructions to make and tune

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View lightweightladylefty's profile

lightweightladylefty

3666 posts in 5049 days


#10 posted 12-06-2012 06:17 AM

Scott,

Thanks for sharing all the details so we can all make them!

L/W

-- Voltaire: “Those Who Can Make You Believe Absurdities, Can Make You Commit Atrocities” There are 112 genders (not including male and female) https://dudeasks.com/how-many-genders-are-there-in-2021/

View Sam's profile

Sam

30 posts in 3692 days


#11 posted 12-07-2012 02:06 PM

Very nice! I know a nephew who would love one of these… may have to work on it. :) Thanks for sharing.

-- -Sam

View Sam's profile

Sam

30 posts in 3692 days


#12 posted 12-08-2012 01:37 AM

Very nice! I know a nephew who would love one of these… may have to work on it. :) Thanks for sharing.

-- -Sam

View Bill Wells's profile

Bill Wells

3 posts in 405 days


#13 posted 12-14-2020 06:00 AM

Excellent post, Scott, thank you. I usually make a lot of changes after seeing someone else’s design, but I shamelessly duplicated your plans. I checked all the tube lengths with a tuner app, Iphone “Tuner T1”. Mine were just a millimeter or two shorter. Also used Type M copper pipe. Sorry, did not use dovetails. For this Christmas, I made one xylophone with three mallets, hoping that my three small grandkids will share. This may be overly optimistic…
See it here: https://s3.amazonaws.com/vs-lumberjocks.com/qlbf48o.jpg!

View flowerdog's profile

flowerdog

296 posts in 3604 days


#14 posted 12-14-2020 04:44 PM

Very nice one Bill! You did a great job and the mallets look awesome too.

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