Percussion Clinic Adelaide

Constructing a Slim tubular bell - (Discussions with Peter Quayle)

-----Original Message-----
    From: "Peter Quayle"
    Sent: 27/08/04 5:52:01 PM
    Subject: Slim tubular bel
Hello Jim,

I happened upon your website while searching for information on tubular bell construction. Congrats on a very informative site!

Even though I'm not a percussionist (I fretted strings and winds), I am attempting to make a single tubular bell for use in a recording, and am wondering about materials, shape etc.

I took note of your tips to that other chap about one end closed, tougher material is better, etc, and I would welcome your advice on the following design:

  • tube made of steel or copper
  • diameter about 50mm
  • sidewalls about 2mm.....?
  • length about
  • 1800mm
  • top end of the tube closed
  • suspended in a wooden frame to allow minimal swaying of tube
  • struck with wooden mallet, with rubber or felt covering if necessary

And that's the plan!

I'd be very grateful for any advice you can offer.

Peter Quayle

Awesome ebook!

Hi peter - thanks for your email...

Your plan seems fine, but a couple of things might be worth mentioning. Firstly I would steer clear of copper as its too soft. It would dent, and not make much sound anyway - a hard bronze would be great I suspect, but expensive and tricky to get hold of. The steel is your best bet. If you can get hold of some galvanized tube it would be more resistant to rust etc as well. The dimensions you mention are fairly typical of standard tubular bell, but of course the length of a given note will vary quite a bit depending on the hardness of the tube as well as the cross-section. As a general rule, mild steel can be shorter than harder material but doesn't ring for as long. This is not always the case though as exact composition will be a factor.

You might try having a look at the fence posts in your local hardware store!

As far as a mallet goes - a hardwood would do the job, but would tend to self destruct after a while. Mostly people use a roll of really tough rawhide with a wooden handle. You usually want a pretty hard surface to get a decent "clang" sound.

Hope this helps.
Jim McCarthy.

answers by Jim MCCarthy - 27/08/2004

For more help on instrument building you can email Jim.

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