Homemade Musical Instruments  Xylophone  Bells Chimes

Tubular Glockenspiel

This page is designed to help you build and play a beautiful sounding homemade glockenspiel out of metal tubing. On this page you will see: 1) a Virtual Glockenspiel that you can hear right now; 2) directions on how to build a 5-note Glockenspiel; and 3) information on building and playing an 8-note Glockenspiel. So take a couple of minutes, hear the virtual glockenspiel and learn how to make this instrument!

Virtual Glockenspiel

 
Our Virtual Glockenspiel plays the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th & 6th notes of the Major Scale. It's called the Pentatonic Scale (see below). To hear melodies based on the Pentatonic Scale, see the video on the right, My Five Favorite Fractions.

 

As you will hear, this homemade glockenspiel sounds just like a set of bells or chimes.  Also notice: the longer the tube, the lower the pitch the shorter the tube, the higher the pitch.  When you play the activity (below), you're hearing the actual sounds I recorded with my instrument. 

Click on the Play button below to hear the instrument.  If you would like to make this instrument, just follow the directions below.

 

Building a 5-note Glockenspiel

  Inches Centimeters  
D 11 15/16 30.4 1
E 11 1/4 28.6 2
F# 10 9/16 26.8 3
A 9 11/16 24.6 5
B 9 1/8 23.2 6

Get ten feet of 1/2-inch Electrical Metallic Tubing (EMT) pipe also referred to as Electrical Conduit, or EMT Conduit.

1) With a metal pipe cutter (not a hacksaw), cut the tubing into the five sections listed on the left (some full-service hardware stores will do this for you).

2) Arrange your tubes as shown so that the longest is on the bottom and the shortest is on top.

3) String the tubes together (simple knots will do) along both sides so there are 2 inches between each tube. You may also place the tubes on two pieces of felt or foam rubber.

4) Try different "mallets" (metal/wood/plastic) to obtain a variety of timbres.

If you would like to build an 8-note glockenspiel that plays many more songs, see below.

Building an 8-note Glockenspiel

Phil and his daughter, Sarah, have created a special resource on building and playing a homemade glockenspiel that includes step-by-step instructions. Just like our homemade water bottle xylophone, panpipes, fraction tubes, melodic tube drums, and didgeritubes, our glockenspiel is tuned to play an 8-note scale in the key of C.

Building instructions are at Glockenspiel.pdf.  In case you'd like to build a larger set, the instructions also include an addendum for Science Olympiad, detailing the measurements for a fully chromatic 27-tube set.

For sheet music written in treble clef, and play-along music tracks, check out Phil's Music for Homemade Instruments page.

 

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