Here’s a silly video that reminds us of the simpler days of the internet. A couple of University of Wisconsin sousaphone players realized their brass instruments make a sound that’s a whole lot like the lightsabers from Star Wars, so they staged a duel. We loved the guy who chimed in with, “why are you filming vertically?”
Awesome Musical Instruments
What do Kenny G and bagpipes have in common? Well if you watch this video by science and nature vlogger Charlie Engleman, you’ll find out. Along the way, you’ll also learn how to make your own bagpipes from a latex glove, two straws, and some appropriately Scotch tape.
Known for its graphical and sound abilities, the Commodore 64 personal computer was home to some of the best games of the 8-bit era. Engineer Linus Åkesson took advantage of its audio capabilities to build this unique accordion which consists of two C64 computers connected by bellows made out of floppy disks and tape.
Burls Art has made a name for himself by creating guitars out of unusual materials. This time, he laminated 700 sheets of newspaper to form a wood-like block. The result is an incredibly cool instrument with a vintage look, visible paper layers along its edge and neck, and historical newspaper headlines on its front and back.
There’s a good reason that guitars are only playable from one side. But that didn’t stop musician Rob Scallon from giving this unusual double-sided guitar a try. This strange string instrument is configured as a regular guitar on one side and a bass guitar on the other. It’s super tricky to play both sides at the same time.
The Flairdrum is an unusual percussive instrument that uses PET water bottles filled with varying amounts of compressed air. The air pressure changes the surface tension of each bottle, resulting in different notes when struck. Daniel Bornmann performed this ear-soothing rendition of his track Am Anfang ist Klang.
Builder Tim Sway dusted off an old drum kit he found in the trash and gave it a whole new life. What makes these drums really special is that he crafted their bodies by recycling hollow core closet doors. He then reused the old hardware and added new Remo drumheads. Tim has previously made guitars from a similar material.
We’ve seen a lot of cool custom guitar builds over the years, but we’re particularly enchanted by this one. Woodworker Ray Whitby created this beautiful and unique electric guitar from layers of wood and epoxy resin, cut into chevron shapes, assembled and shaped into the guitar’s face, and backlit with LED lighting.
The sound of popping bubble wrap might be music to your ears, but Simone Giertz and her friends came up with a way to turn those pops into actual music. The machine she built uses a spinning drum and rubber feet to squish the bubbles and harnesses the air they release to play a pan flute. Zamfir, eat your heart out!
Electronic instrument maker Elias Jarzombek created this unique synthesizer that looks like an abacus. The otherworldly sounds it makes are controlled by sliding and spinning its triangular “beads” on metal bars, along with turning its side dials. Read more about the Abacusynth on Elias’ website.
A typical electric guitar body measures just under 2″ thick. Burls Art wanted to build the thinnest guitar he could out of wood. He used black limba wood for the body, which he cut and planed down to about half the regular thickness. He had to use special low-profile pickups due to the height limitations.
With enough skill and epoxy resin, you can make a guitar out of just about anything. Maker Noe Hervas shows off a colorful electric guitar he built by cutting a custom wood mold, filling it with stacks of guitar picks bathed in clear resin. At least he saved one pick to play it with.
Last time we checked in with Davie504, he was performing on a bass guitar with a single string. At the end of that video, he promised he’d play a 69-string bass, but we weren’t sure if he was serious. Well, not only did he come through on his promise, he broke a world’s record for the most strings on a bass.
The kalimba is a small musical instrument that’s played by thumping your fingers on its springy metal keys. But the same idea can be DIYed using a bunch of popsicle sticks, screwed in place at varying lengths along a board. Mr. Mash shows off his homemade instrument, along with an abridged version of his how-to video.
The Mavis is a build-it-yourself analog synth kit that embodies the spirit of Moog. The compact instrument has a 24-point patch bay, an analog oscillator, a voltage-controlled filter, a 4-stage envelope generator, and a sample-and-hold circuit. It easily integrates with any Moog semi-modular or Eurorack system too.
This short video from Instrument Maniac is less about music and more about the size of his instrument collection. In the next two minutes, you’ll hear how the same 7-note sequence sounds on more than 90 different musical instruments, from harp to flute to flugelhorn to cowbell. Which instruments do you play?
Fans of 1980s metal might recognize some of the crazy multi-necked guitars in this video by Rob Scallon. They’re part of Michael Angelo Batio’s extensive guitar collection. Batio is known as the fastest guitar player of the era, and Rob is like a kid in a candy store when gets hands-on with some of these wild instruments.
Rob Scallon sat down with fellow musician Salieu Suso to learn about an instrument rarely seen here in the States. The Kora is a traditional Gambian instrument with 21 strings and a resonating chamber made from a gourd. It produces a soft and calming sound, and clearly influenced the design of later string instruments.
As we’ve seen before, inventor Nicolas Bras loves to make unique musical instruments. His latest instrument is one of the sillier ones we’ve seen. He created an improvised bagpipe by attaching his PVC pipe clarinets and a kid-sized duck pool float. It doesn’t sound much like the traditional Scottish instrument, nor does it quack like a duck.
Musician and inventor Nicolas Bras is known for his weird homebrew musical instruments. He recently put a band together to perform live on these unusual music makers. For his “Trash Orchestra,” Nicolas was joined by fellow musicians Vinz Vonlanthen, Nicolas Strazzini, Andrei Pervikov, and Máté Drippey.
We’ve always been wowed by the craft of Kumiko. Inspired by the elegant Japanese latticework, Make With Miles created a unique electric guitar with a body that incorporates the technique. After cutting and assembling the wood, he filled the openings with tinted epoxy for contrast. He also made a matching amp.
Musician and inventor Nicolas Bras shows off another one of his unusual musical instruments. By grafting together multiple pieces of PVC pipe, he created a wind instrument unlike any we’ve heard before. The addition of a loop pedal turned his improv performance into an EDM track.
We’ve heard how partially-filled drinking glasses can be used as musical instruments before, and musician Fin Draper knows how to get the most out of them. Listen up as he creates a groovy beat with a beer bottle, water glass, beer glass, three tumblers, and a rocks glass, accompanied by a bass drum.
At NYC’s MoMA, composer Dorit Chrysler used the movements of iconic Calder mobiles to control Theremins, musical instruments played without physical contact. As the metal sculptures moved, they produced sounds by affecting the electromagnetic fields of the Theremins, resulting in a musical “collaboration.”
Want a grand piano for your house, but don’t have enough room for one? Why not 3D print a mini version? Breaks’n’Makes shows off a tiny grand piano model he built based on a design from Mechanistic. It’s fully functional, with keys, hammers, and strings, and it even tiny working casters that it rolls on.