Percussion Clinic Adelaide

On Designing and Building a set of Marimba Bars #2 - (Discussions with Chris Brock)

Easily Make DIY Marimbas
Get These Easy to Use Marimba Plans. Simple & Quick to Build Marimbas.
-----Original Message-----
From: chris brock
Sent: Tuesday, 3 January 2006 10:19 AM
Subject: Tuning
Hello Jim my name is Chris. and I was wondering about tuning marimbas do you just sand it till it is at the note you want. I have just started looking into this so I'm not sure what to do. also I really like the bass end you made for your marimba the resonators are crazy. hope to hear back from you.


Making Marimbas, Xylophones & Vibraphones is now Easy
Building Guides for Making Marimbas, Xylophones, Vibraphones and Metalophones
Get These Comprehensive Plans & Instructions with Video!

Hi Chris - apologies for the delay in getting back to you, and glad that you like the resonators -although sadly they are really the easy part of building a marimba...

In one sense what you say about sanding is correct although its obviously a little more complicated than that. Sanding is a good way to remove mass from the middle of the bar in small increments, but you way want to use a sharp knife or chisels if you are at the start of a bar which requires a lot of carving. The better you want the bar to sound the more fussy you have to be. You may decide to go for a bar which has just the fundamental tuned which can sound quite ok at times but often a bit unrefined - its a bit the luck of the draw. If you do this, then its all a fair bit easier. You just take timber in a rough arch shape from the middle of the underside of the bar until the note is as low as you need. You can make the note higher again by taking a bit under the bar at the ends, but this is not desirable and has less effect than lowering the bar, so be careful as you get closer to the note - you don't want to get it too low. If you want a better, more refined sound, then you have to think about the first overtones of the bar as well - then its a matter of being fairly precise in where exactly under the arch of the bar you take the timber from to effect the overtone you want to more than the ones you don't. There are already some articles on the website which give a fair bit of info about this - try reading the following if you haven't already:


Hope this helps mate - feel free to ask more questions if you need.
Jim McCarthy

Jim Reccomends for comprehensive blueprints and building guides to make your own marimbas.

answers by Jim MCCarthy - 09/01/2005

For more help on instrument building you can email Jim.

Back to ARTICLES list

Articles & Info
Free Lessons& Resources
Instrument Encyclopedia
Learn the Djembe with online Video Djembe Lessons Learn Djembe with online articles and videos, links to the best recordings, lessons and videos about hand drumming and the Djembe.