DIY Musical Instruments
[Note: The following list of projects appeared in the May 2010 Science Buddies Newsletter. To view the full newsletter, which was all about the science of music, click here. Parents, you'll find great at-home music science projects in that issue as well!]
Sometimes, rolling up your sleeves and recreating the wheel really is the best way to understand from the inside out what is happening, how something works, and what the science at hand really means. Patience, ingenuity, and a DIY attitude make these homemade (or "tweaked") instruments a fun and functional way to explore sound and music.
Check out the following science project ideas:
- Build Your Own Xylophone Out of Copper Pipe: Math and music combine to turn ordinary copper piping into a familiar instrument. (Difficulty: 5)
- Make Your Own Piezoelectric Pickup for Acoustic Guitar: Soup up your acoustic guitar for use with an amplifier by making a "pickup" out of a simple electronic buzzer. (Difficulty: 7-9)
- Make Your Own Electric Guitar Pickup: Induction, magnets, and thousands of wire wraps give your electric guitar the rock-and-roll sound you love. Wind your own pickup with a set of popsicle sticks to see how even small changes in the pickup can alter the sound. (Difficulty: 7-9)
- Building Banjos: Explore the function of a banjo's "resonator." (Difficulty: 8)
- Pluck Out & Pick New String Materials for Your Guitar: Guitar strings can be made out of a range of materials and come with varying degrees of "tension." Which works best with your soundboard? (Difficulty: 8-10)
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