Instructables

This is a small reed instrument with a mighty deep voice for its size.  It belongs to the Tootophone family, of which I am the father (see:  http://www.instructables.com/id/pvc-TOOTOPHONE-a-musical-reed-instrument  ).  You might call this one Baby Bass. 

The rubber reed is a new variation, one that gives it the deep voice.  It is not as springy as stiffer plastic reeds, and is probably a little heavier.  That makes it vibrate more slowly and create lower pitches.  The reed is made with a new clay-like rubbery product called Sugru.

The silicone rubber cartridge body adds resonance and volume. 

It is intuitively easy to play, with no fingering.   Be sure to click on the .mp3 file in the last step to hear how it sounds. 
 
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Step 1: Forming the Mouthpiece

Picture of Forming the Mouthpiece
SUGRU TOOT (13).JPG
SUGRU TOOT (19).JPG
SUGRU TOOT (21).JPG
The mouthpiece is made from the plastic tubing of a discarded ballpoint pen.   The original angle cut can be made with a saw, or just sanded down with heavy sandpaper. 

The most important part of the shaping is the curve in step 2 of the diagram.   By having a continual curve, instead of a straight cut, the reed will always form a tangent line when the player's lip presses it to the body of the mouthpiece.  The reed must have room to vibrate in order to make sound.  Shorter vibrating sections will vibrate more rapidly and make higher pitches. 

Shape the curve by pressing the tubing down on sandpaper, pushing it forward and back in a rocking motion. 
sconner12 years ago
Cut your own reeds from a small piece of bamboo or other wood/reed that doesn't splinter..
A 1/8" thick strip 3/8 to 1/2" wide (or the width of your pen tube) by 2-1/2 to 3" long.
Grain running lengthwise.
Shave or sand the thickness down tapering to almost nothing at the tip.
corey113 years ago
You may want to use (or try) a oboe reed. I can't remember what their called but it's not like a normal reed. Although I'm in band in highschool, I don't play a reed instrument, so I wouldn't pay attention to their reeds. But great 'ible, keep up the good work. 5 stars
Thinkenstein (author)  corey113 years ago
Thanks much.

I have no personal experience with oboe reeds. I think it may be a double reed, like a bassoon, but I'm just guessing, and I have no experience with bassoon reeds, either. Given the basic concepts, I try to improvise with materials at hand.

I'm having a really good day today, evolving bass tootophones, learning about different bodies and mouthpiece angles, mostly. Anyway, I'll see if I can find a picture of an oboe reed and figure out a way to duplicate it.
Oboes do indeed use double reeds, and would produce a much higher pitched sound than the Sugru one being used in this instructable. It would also be difficult to make out of Sugru, it being a double reed.
Thinkenstein (author)  Robin09993 years ago
Do you know of any advantage to using a double reed over a single reed? Are they harder to play? Louder? A different sound quality?

I wonder, too, what would be the effect of having a rubbery mouthpiece and a regular reed. I would have no idea of how to shape a Sugru mouthpiece, though. It seems like something that would have to be molded. It wouldn't have the deep base sound of the slow vibrating Sugru reed, though.
O haven't played one (like I said before) but I know that they are way more difficult to play, and yes, there is a different tone and sound quality. To me, the sound is kind of realted to a bag pipe. If you go on YouTube I'm sure there are videos of people playing the oboe. The sound is higher pitched than a normal reed, so this may help the tootophone family to have a branch of mid, to high staff instruments instead of bass. They are more difficult to make, yes, and the reel reed is a lot more expensive I do know that. When I used to play alto sax, it was $43 10 regular reeds. I'm sure it would be about $10-$15 for one double reed. All a double reed really is is two small reeds, tied back to back. Except each one is slightly crescent shaped so theirs a small gap in between them for vibration. Hope this helps.
Thinkenstein (author)  corey113 years ago
Thanks. I doubt I'll be buying any reeds at those prices, but maybe I can figure out a way to make one. The crescent shape sounds difficult, though. Flat reeds are a lot simpler.
you can make one with a straw
a bassoon reed would be much easier to play than an oboe reed
try a bassoon reed. the inside diameter of the end is about 3-4mm.
google miller marketing. they sell good bassoon reeds for $11.95 plus shipping from pennsylvania
Great sound. Standard wood reeds would be safer, however. Sugru is expressly not safe for direct contact with food (containers, pots etc.) so having it in your mouth might not be a great idea.
Thinkenstein (author)  JiminyThickhead3 years ago
At this point in my tootophone evolution, I'm willing to accept a little risk to learn new things, and this rubber reed idea is exciting. The Sugru is easy to work with, and has nice sound. I may experiment with regular RTV silicone rubber next, and if the resulting sounds are comparable, switch over completely to it later.

For the moment, I am noticing no ill effects from lip contact with the cured Sugru.

I imagine that not many rubber materials are designed for in-mouth use. I'm used to not knowing exactly what I'm getting into. Anyway, thanks for your concern. It is just contact. I'm not eating it. I'll let everybody know if I notice any bad effects from the lip contact.
ChrysN3 years ago
That sounds really good.
rimar20003 years ago
I like it! Thanks for the idea.

I have some empty silicon cartridges, I will do one of these!
Ninzerbean3 years ago
I like the way it sounds but I had to turn it off as Possum (dog) was going nuts barking. Great ible.
Thinkenstein (author)  Ninzerbean3 years ago
Sounds like Possum was just doing a little karaoke. Should be great for full moon nights!