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How to Make a Xylophone with PVC Pipe

A xylophone is a percussion instrument originating in Africa and Asia.
xylophone 1 image by iMAGINE from Fotolia.com

A xylophone is a percussion instrument that consists of a set of bars of graduated lengths mounted on a frame. Each bar represents a musical note, with the shorter bars sounding higher than the longer bars. The bars are arranged somewhat like the keys of a piano. A musician plays the xylophone by striking the bars with hard or soft mallets to vary the tone. Most xylophones have bars made of rosewood and a resonator below each bar, which is a tube or gourd to make the sound louder. In addition, PVC pipe makes a good toy xylophone.

Decide how many bars the xylophone will have. Each bar represents a note.

Cut the PVC pipe into bars, making each bar an inch longer than the previous one. This allows each bar to make a different tone. The longer the bar, the deeper the tone.

Lay the bars on a table from largest to smallest and leave about a half-inch between each one. Measure from the left side of the largest bar to the right side of the smallest. This is how long the xylophone frame will be.

Cut two 1-by-1-inch boards to the length you measured in the previous step. These will form the frame of the xylophone.

Measure the length of the shortest PVC bar. Cut two 1-by-1-inch boards to this length. These will form the cross pieces of the xylophone frame.

Place the two longer boards parallel to each other on a flat surface. The space between them should be about a third less than the length of the shortest bar.

Place the two shorter boards across each end of the longer boards about an inch from the ends. Screw them in place. This is the frame of the xylophone.

Turn the frame over so that the shorter boards are on the bottom. Place the PVC bars on top of the frame exactly in the same position as in Step 3.

Tie each bar to the frame with two pieces of cord. Tie one cord around the bar and one piece of the frame, and tie the other cord around the bar and the other piece of the frame. Tie the cord tightly so that the bar does not move from its position.


To play the xylophone, strike the bars with a small mallet or drumsticks.rnrnIf you want a properly tuned xylophone, you must figure out mathematically how long the bars should be.

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