Home Store Project Ideas Project Guide Ask An Expert Blog Careers Teachers Parents Students

Build Your Own Xylophone Out of Copper Pipe *

Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites None
Material Availability Specialty items: Tube and pipe cutter wheel, or hack saw.
Cost Low ($20 - $50)
Safety Adult supervision required to cut the copper pipe.
*Note: This is an abbreviated Project Idea, without notes to start your background research, a specific list of materials, or a procedure for how to do the experiment. You can identify abbreviated Project Ideas by the asterisk at the end of the title. If you want a Project Idea with full instructions, please pick one without an asterisk.


Did you know that making a musical instrument is not just an art, but a science, too? You can discover just how scientific by building your own xylophone (or a set of chimes) from copper pipe. First you'll need to do some research about the math and physics involved in the sounds of a xylophone. For example, there are equations that describe the transverse (side-to-side) vibrations of a pipe. These vibrations create the sounds you hear. So, to get specific sounds, xylophone makers must apply these equations to calculate the correct length of pipe for a given note. Can you use these equations to build a xylophone with eight pipe lengths representing the C major scale (do, re, me, fa, so, la, ti, do)? How should the pipe lengths change if you want to build a xylophone that plays a different scale? For help on how to actually build the xylophone, and more information about the equations you'll need, read the article by David R. Lapp, listed in the Bibliography. You might just find that playing with equations is music to your ears!

Cite This Page

MLA Style

Science Buddies Staff. "Build Your Own Xylophone Out of Copper Pipe" Science Buddies. Science Buddies, 10 Oct. 2014. Web. 25 Oct. 2014 <http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_ideas/Music_p024.shtml?from=Blog>

APA Style

Science Buddies Staff. (2014, October 10). Build Your Own Xylophone Out of Copper Pipe. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_ideas/Music_p024.shtml?from=Blog

Share your story with Science Buddies!

I did this project I Did This Project! Please log in and let us know how things went.

Last edit date: 2014-10-10


Share your story with Science Buddies!

I did this project I Did This Project! Please log in and let us know how things went.

Ask an Expert

The Ask an Expert Forum is intended to be a place where students can go to find answers to science questions that they have been unable to find using other resources. If you have specific questions about your science fair project or science fair, our team of volunteer scientists can help. Our Experts won't do the work for you, but they will make suggestions, offer guidance, and help you troubleshoot.

Ask an Expert

Related Links

If you like this project, you might enjoy exploring these related careers:

Mechanical engineer building prototype

Mechanical Engineer

Mechanical engineers are part of your everyday life, designing the spoon you used to eat your breakfast, your breakfast's packaging, the flip-top cap on your toothpaste tube, the zipper on your jacket, the car, bike, or bus you took to school, the chair you sat in, the door handle you grasped and the hinges it opened on, and the ballpoint pen you used to take your test. Virtually every object that you see around you has passed through the hands of a mechanical engineer. Consequently, their skills are in demand to design millions of different products in almost every type of industry. Read more
female commercial designer preparing prototype

Commercial & Industrial Designer

Have you always loved art? Do you have a good eye for beauty, balance, and form? How would you like to see your designs show up in toy stores? Or in a sporting goods store? Or at a car dealer? Commercial and industrial designers create the shape and form of every type of manufactured good that you can think of—from toys, sporting goods, and medical equipment to high technology products, furniture, toothbrushes, and toasters. They design the form of new products that are as beautiful and pleasing to look at as they are functional. Read more
precision instrument repairman working on watch parts

Precision Instrument & Equipment Repairer

One of the basic truths in the universe is that objects tend to go from a state of higher organization to a state of lower organization over time. In other words, things break down, and when those things are precision instruments or equipment, they require the services of very specialized technicians to restore them to their working order. Precision instrument or equipment technicians often combine a love of music, medicine, electronics, or antiques with delicate mechanical repair work. Read more

Looking for more science fun?

Try one of our science activities for quick, anytime science explorations. The perfect thing to liven up a rainy day, school vacation, or moment of boredom.

Find an Activity