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Thread: Need to build a marimba

  1. #1

    Need to build a marimba

    Yesterday was the last day of school for my 3rd grade daughter. She volunteered me to build her 4th grade music class a marimba.

    Any one got plans, advice or lessons learned? I have sufficient wood (rosewood for the tone bars; ohia, kamani and koa for the frame), but would like to get out in front of this project.

    BTW, I need it for the start of school at then end of July...

  2. #2

    Marimba

    I googled "how to build a marimba" and came up with quite a few links, at least one of which should help you out.

    Phil

  3. #3
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    My woodworkers club built a run of marimbas for charity. Somebody found plans, which we followed. The plans specified the dimensions of the bars. However, the instruments were not in tune. The pitch of each bar depends on the density of the wood in the bar, and that varied enough to force us to tune each bar individually.

  4. #4

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Philip Berman View Post
    I googled "how to build a marimba" and came up with quite a few links, at least one of which should help you out.
    Phil
    <rant on>
    Why not include a link or two to the results... or the search terms you used... or something productive to add to the thread. Not everyone thinks of themself as an internet guru. Some people actually come here for help.
    <rant off>

    On top of the links Cliff posted, you also might want to check here:
    http://www.buildamarimba.com
    or this one:
    http://www.makeamarimba.com

    The second link actually links back to the first one for plans, but, there is some good additional information available here.
    Quote of the day: "If man isn't supposed to eat animals, then why are they made out of meat?" - Socrates (Fred Socrates, Winder, GA)

    Cheers!
    Randy

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Randal Cobb View Post
    <rant on>
    Why not include a link or two to the results... or the search terms you used... or something productive to add to the thread. Not everyone thinks of themself as an internet guru. Some people actually come here for help.
    <rant off>

    On top of the links Cliff posted, you also might want to check here:
    http://www.buildamarimba.com
    or this one:
    http://www.makeamarimba.com

    The second link actually links back to the first one for plans, but, there is some good additional information available here.
    So you are suggesting the OP was able to find and navigate the creek presumably with a computer, but will be unable to go to google.com and type "How to build a marimba"? as Philip suggested? Not sure I understand the rational behind ranting at Philip whose suggestion while simple I thought was helpful. End Rant.

  7. #7
    "...suggesting the OP was able to find and navigate the creek presumably with a computer, but will be unable to go to google.com and type "How to build a marimba"?..."

    Ditto. If only I got a dollar for every time someone posted a question to which I did not know the answer, prompting me to drop the subject line of the post into a search engine and see literally hundreds of resources pop up. Sheech....
    David DeCristoforo

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Quinn View Post
    So you are suggesting the OP was able to find and navigate the creek presumably with a computer, but will be unable to go to google.com and type "How to build a marimba"? as Philip suggested? Not sure I understand the rational behind ranting at Philip whose suggestion while simple I thought was helpful. End Rant.


    Yeah, I can Google.


    What I wanted to know is if anyone here has built one.
    That's why I asked for "plans, advice or lessons learned."

    But thanks for that great Google tip!

  9. #9
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    No, guys... My rant was about someone coming looking for help and getting told to "go search Google". I've already said I'm sorry to Philip. there was really no ill intent involved other than to rant about something that bugs me. You see it in just about every forum out there... Someone comes in looking for information just to be told to go Google the answer. Maybe the person doesn't know the correct term to Google? Not knowing the OP's skill level, it's very arrogant to say "Go Google it" when the OP may very well have no idea what to Google for. Personally, I'm just more of a "I don't know the answer, but you might want to Google for something like 'How to build a marimba'" type of responder. Usually on the other forums I frequent, it's usually some snot-nose little 13 year old kid who thinks he's the owner of the internet that would rather post a snide remark when someone who is truly less experienced than he needs or wants information. It just boils my blood when I see it. I'm here to learn and share as well, and I happen to think I'm pretty computer/internet savvy, and I don't always know what to search for!
    Quote of the day: "If man isn't supposed to eat animals, then why are they made out of meat?" - Socrates (Fred Socrates, Winder, GA)

    Cheers!
    Randy

  10. #10
    Oh goodie... a fight!

    No really Randal, you should re-read Philip's reply which I quote:

    "I googled "how to build a marimba" and came up with quite a few links, at least one of which should help you out."

    So assuming that the OP truly knew not what to type into a search engine, Philip's reply should have been quite helpful since it gave the OP exactly that information. Castigating him (Philip) for not bothering to take the time to cut and paste all of the links that come up when one performs that search seems to me to be somewhat unfair.....
    David DeCristoforo

  11. #11
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    A Marimba or a Marimba?

    I inherited and play my father's 4-1/3 octave Musser, made in about 1965. I would never attempt to reproduce this kind of Marimba.

    Even larger marimbas are made by Marimba One, Yamaha, Vancore, Adams, and Musser. Some examples here:
    http://inconcertpercussion.com/_wsn/page2.html

    My guess is that you really can't make one of these without making it your career as a part of a highly trained team with specialized equipment. Theoretically, I could figure out how to build a concert piano, but not really effectively.

    But that is just one definition of the word "Marimba".

    One of the best experiences of my life was listening to two percussionists on an African Bush Marimba, which was bars of wood cut with an axe and a big knife, laid out on a bed of straw, tuned on a 5-note octave scale, about like the flats and sharps on a piano.

    In-between is stuff that would be really fun, possible, and still a major tuning challenge. One of the marimbas that had a box for a resonator and up to two octaves of notes is in the range of the sort of possible.

    The million dollar questions:

    Are you courageous and challenged by projects just barely possible?

    Have you ever tuned a guitar or piano or timpani or any other instrument?


    If not, you need a partner who has done that. Either way, you need a chromatic tuner that can produce a tone and then tell you what note you are playing and whether you are sharp or flat. These are under $100 or can even be downloaded as a program that works through your computer.

    If you cut all of the bars to perfect length and width and thickness, they will still be way out of tune. Each one needs highly skilled work. But isn't that what makes the challenge exciting. It's not easy. So what?

    If you take on the right size challenge, go for it and have a wild time!

    Brian Kent
    Veni Vidi Vendi Vente! I came, I saw, I bought a large coffee!

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Kent View Post
    I inherited and play my father's 4-1/3 octave Musser, made in about 1965. I would never attempt to reproduce this kind of Marimba.

    Even larger marimbas are made by Marimba One, Yamaha, Vancore, Adams, and Musser. Some examples here:
    http://inconcertpercussion.com/_wsn/page2.html

    My guess is that you really can't make one of these without making it your career as a part of a highly trained team with specialized equipment. Theoretically, I could figure out how to build a concert piano, but not really effectively.

    But that is just one definition of the word "Marimba".

    One of the best experiences of my life was listening to two percussionists on an African Bush Marimba, which was bars of wood cut with an axe and a big knife, laid out on a bed of straw, tuned on a 5-note octave scale, about like the flats and sharps on a piano.

    In-between is stuff that would be really fun, possible, and still a major tuning challenge. One of the marimbas that had a box for a resonator and up to two octaves of notes is in the range of the sort of possible.

    The million dollar questions:

    Are you courageous and challenged by projects just barely possible?

    Have you ever tuned a guitar or piano or timpani or any other instrument?


    If not, you need a partner who has done that. Either way, you need a chromatic tuner that can produce a tone and then tell you what note you are playing and whether you are sharp or flat. These are under $100 or can even be downloaded as a program that works through your computer.

    If you cut all of the bars to perfect length and width and thickness, they will still be way out of tune. Each one needs highly skilled work. But isn't that what makes the challenge exciting. It's not easy. So what?

    If you take on the right size challenge, go for it and have a wild time!

    Brian Kent
    I don't want to make one of these:


    I want to make one of these:




    I've made a cannon, built a 24' boat, a teardrop trailer and a replica of a civil war desk. I'll give this is a shot and post the results. It prolly won't be ready for the philharmonic, but I'm guessing the 4th graders will like it.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Kent View Post
    .....
    Have you ever tuned a guitar or piano or timpani or any other instrument?

    If not, you need a partner who has done that. Either way, you need a chromatic tuner that can produce a tone and then tell you what note you are playing and whether you are sharp or flat.
    ...
    A chromatic tuner might be useful, but people were tuning musical instruments by ear long before electronics were invented.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamie Buxton View Post
    A chromatic tuner might be useful, but people were tuning musical instruments by ear long before electronics were invented.
    Some ears are better than others though

    One thing I'm wondering about is a digital weight scale. If you had the formula for determining the pitch given the size and density, and had a good estimate of the density for your wood, could you get pretty close by weighing and adjusting? Then less to do by ear? I dunno - just wondering.
    Use the fence Luke

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Hoskins View Post
    I don't want to make one of these:


    I want to make one of these:




    I've made a cannon, built a 24' boat, a teardrop trailer and a replica of a civil war desk. I'll give this is a shot and post the results. It prolly won't be ready for the philharmonic, but I'm guessing the 4th graders will like it.
    Sounds like you are very well qualified to go for it!
    Veni Vidi Vendi Vente! I came, I saw, I bought a large coffee!

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