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Time4Learning Demos

Homemade Musical Instruments For Teens

Advanced Musical Instruments

Complicated designs. May be made from costlier materials. Tricky tuning. Inventiveness required, but a teenager could make these.

Bret Hart’s Homesmade Instruments
The great thing about a homemade or unfamiliar instrument is that no one can accuse you of playing it improperly. Some instruments vaguely Asian in heritage.

Coppers and Brass
It sounds better than it looks; and it looks better than you’d expect. These pages are focused on building musical instruments out of, let’s say, “modest” materials like plumbing pipe.

Gametone Homemade Gamelan Instruments
These are my homemade instruments, the purists among you will notice that they have little to do with traditional gamelan instruments. But their sound when played brings gamelan music to my mind.

Guitar Building
In this MIT class, students learn about physics principles by examining the physics responsible for producing music with electronic stringed instruments, while building, testing, and playing their own electric guitar.

Making a Clay Didjeridu with Barry Hall
Clay makes an excellent material for didjeridus (and many other musical instruments as well). Although fired clay is rigid, and even brittle, compared to other materials like wood, it is also very resonant and has some unique acoustical properties that work well for didjes.

Making a Driftwood Xylophone (Video)
Take extra, long towels to the beach in order to make this xylophone. This is really a family project, as all can be included in helping to find the driftwood pieces with good sound, but someone older, with a good ear, might need to arrange the wood into bars. Cost: the cost of getting to a beach with driftwood!

Two Octave Mini Marimba
How you can spend a few days on a really fun project that leaves you with an amazing musical instrument which will be the center of conversation in your home for years to come!


Fret-Placement Calculator
An applet for use in designing fretted string instruments. You tell it your string length and what sort of scale you want, and it’ll tell you where to put the frets.

Car Music Project for Ford Focus Ad
While this may be more than you’d want to tackle, I think it makes a point that an instrument can be made from just about anything.

Books for Making Homemade Instruments


Build Your Own Alien Instruments
by Reed Ghazala
Fans will get bent out of shape if they miss the first book to cover circuit-bending- ‘bending’, for short – the method by which an electronic toy or a device such as a keyboard is short-circuited and modified to create an entirely different sound. Written by the inventor of the technology, this book covers the tools of the trade, shows how to build a bending workshop, and reveals secrets that will have readers of all levels making sweet music in no time. Readers learn basic bends, body contacts, and other bending skills, as well as ways to create bent instruments from a variety of popular toys and electronic devices. This book features some of the author’s own unique creations.
Canadian editions
Art of Tap Tuning

Art of Tap Tuning
How to Build Great Sound into Instruments Book/DVD
by Roger H. Siminoff
This book explains the secret ingredients needed to obtain the very best tonal qualities when building acoustic string instruments. It includes an exploration of the tools and equipment needed, the methods to excite tones in the instrument, how to make the necessary changes, and how to achieve consistency and repeatability. The text focuses on tap tuning as it relates to mandolins, guitars, banjos, violins, ukuleles, dulcimers, pianos, and more. The DVD includes demonstrations of the acoustic phenomena described in the text.
Kindle Edition
Canadian editions
Make a Ray Jacobs Rocky Mountain Dulcimer

Make a Ray Jacobs Rocky Mountain Dulcimer
by Kiko Denzer
You can build this simple, beautiful 3-stringed instrument from scrap wood, cardboard, and a few dollars worth of hardware; it will sound absolutely wonderful. And it’s much easier to learn than a guitar. Includes stories and background on the designer, Ray Jacobs, always a musician, and formerly a 4th grade teacher in Eureka, MT. Compiled and written by a teaching artist, so that more people can make their own music, more easily and more beautifully!
Canadian editions

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