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large wood xylophoneThe art of creating musical instruments by hand is probably as old as man's use of tools. In fact, instrument making may actually predate tool making because I'd be willing to bet that ancient man found it more enjoyable making music than digging holes. I have always found xylophones to be some of the funnest of all instruments because of the carefree nature of their sounds. It seems to me that the xylophone lends itself to the idea of building one of your own so I went in search of xylophone ideas and have brought you some of the ones that I find most noteworthy.

You can start by checking out a web page titled: Basic Xylophone Building, by Jim Dobel of Elemental Design. In his web page, Jim gives you a good quick tutorial about what makes a xylophone tick. He gives a very basic description of the elements of a wood xylophone and how they are constructed and work. Jim also has some other interesting musical instrument links on his page that you might want to check out.

There's a fascinating article on Mother Earth News describing how to make a pipe xylophone. The instructions are well explained and seem easy enough to follow. I believe that following their guide will produce a very nice home made instrument and they even provide you with a little fundamental music education also. I enjoyed their presentation of the concept and they carefully keep the project cost effective.

In contrast to the pipe xylophone instructions on Mother Earth News, eHow has "git er dun" type instructions for building a xylophone using two-by-four lumber and an old dresser drawer. You might not make the concert tour with this instrument but it's a place to start.

If you are the DIY adventurous sort, or if you are already an accomplished xylophone builder, check out this link from . They have a cornucopia of ideas about instruments that you can build for yourself and they provide links that will lead you in endless musical directions.

You can build them out of wood strips, copper pipes, brass rods or even build a xylophone using wrenches like the idea I saw on instructables. I even found a site which outlines making a xylophone out of bottles but they want to sell you the plans for doing it . The point of the whole project is to make something useful and to have some fun in the process. Have you ever built a xylophone? If so, please tell us about it!


  • xylophiliac

    FYI: The word xylophone is from the Greek "xilo", meaning wood, and "foni", meaning sound. Therefore wooden instruments of this type are called a xylophones, whereas metal instruments of this type (Glockenspiels) are called Metallophones. There have even been instruments such as these made with stone. These are called lithophones.

  • Gary E. Sattler

    Thank you Xylopiliac, for giving us that great information. I had wondered about those differences.

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