Today I’m sharing with you a simple recipe for Boomwhacker Xylophone. It’s a visually delicious instrument that will cost you less then 60 bucks to make (and almost nothing if you already have Boomwhackers). And if you’re thinking that you’ll just buy the xylo-tote Boomwhackers sells, it does work pretty well, but it’s not as loud or as grand as a two octave one with a wooden frame!
To make a two-octave Boomwhacker xylophone in C Major, you will need:
- 2 sets of C Major Boomwhackers
- 7 Boomwhacker Octavator Caps (to turn half the tubes into a lower octave)
- Roughly 9 feet of 2×2 wood (Lowes, Home Depot)
- Felt (Michael’s or any craft store)
- Staple gun + staples
- Elastic (thicker is better and you will need about 12 feet or so of length)
- Glue or screwdriver + screws
If you’ve ever DIY’ed anything, you can probably look at the picture and the ingredient list and create it yourself in no time. BUT in case you want a couple tips and some guidance, read on…
Step 1: The frame.
Basically it’s just two longer pieces of wood running horizontally on top of to two shorter pieces. The longer pieces are wrapped in felt so that the tubes sit on something soft. Being the son of a contractor, I was always taught to wood glue in between the pieces and then screw the pieces together. Depending on how durable you want this thing to be, you make the call! You’re probably fine with one or the other (the screw being the safer long term option).
Then, starting from the bottom left, you staple the elastic to the wood, place the large C (red) tube at the beginning, pull the elastic over the tubes so it’s snug but not too tight, and then staple the elastic down on the right side of the tube, effectively trapping the tube in a loop that it can now slide in and out.
Then you create an identical loop on the opposite length of wood (with a separate piece of elastic) and repeat the process so that each tube has two loops to slide through.
The only technical thing to consider is how long you make the shorter pieces of wood (ie how far apart are the two longer pieces of wood).
In keyed percussion instruments, the bars (or in this case tubes) have two nodes, or points, where you should ideally place the support underneath.
When you make a two octave Boomwhacker xylophone though, the tubes go from big to small, back to big and then small again.Therefore, trying to accommodate for the nodes via this simple design isn’t possible.
If you build a one octave xylophone, it’s worth building the frame to look more like this!
This is a great way to make some Orff styled instruments for your classroom if you’re on a budget! Or if you’re like me and you take your classroom on the go, this is a great light weight way to make your Boomwhackers playable with mallets!