Introduction: Horn From a Drinking Straw

How to make a cool horn out of a drinking straw. The video shows the whole process and demonstrates the use of the horn and shows some of the modification possibilities.

This is a great little trick that you can easily whip out for comic relief next time your are sitting at a restaurant. The sounds produced range from a duck call to a flagulent.

This is a great sound production platform and yields well to modification. The possibilities are almost endless.


Step 1: Cut the Straw

If you prefer, you can see this entire Instructable in video format.

Flatten an inch or so of the end of the straw and then cut the corners of the straw off starting about 1/2 inch from the end. The remaining flaps are the reeds that produce the sound.

The sound produced is affected by the shape and length of the reeds, so try cutting the corners off at different angles and starting at different lengths from the end of the straw.

Step 2: Blow

Playing the horn is pretty easy. Just blow. If it doesn't work, try varying the volume of air you are blowing or biting down on the straw to flatten it a little more. I find that I get the best results when the straw lightly touches my top teeth.

Step 3: Modify It

In the video I show some basic modifications using a funnel and some PVC pipe. The sound that is produced is much fuller and louder than the bare straw.

I also experimented with fitting one PCV pipe into another to make something similar to a trombone. If you watched the video, I am sure that you were very impressed with my rendition of the Star Spangled Banner that I played on this instrument.

Comments

author
shyamkago (author)2015-01-22

That is awesome.

author
craft-n-genius (author)2013-08-09

Hysterical!!! Got to make this... it will annoy the dickens out of my mom. ;) Really cool.

author
FrodoandSam (author)2013-04-26

That...was...beautiful.

author
yommy (author)2013-04-22

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author
yommy (author)2013-04-19

I really love the creativity in making things. I think with a sound knowledge one will improve drastically check http://www.art.unn.edu.ng

author
whiteoakart (author)2008-04-11

This is wonderful, Shoemaker. It will go well in my new Maker band: The Dr Seuss-a-phone (Brass section) The PVC Native american flute (Wind) The Propane tank Hang drum (Percussion) The PVC Weed wacker string Standup Bass (Strings) And, finally, the wind section.....Drinking Straw Clarinet (Woodwind) Now, if I can just get enough crazy people to play with. If anyone is interested, I will post links to all the instruments.

author
whiteoakart (author)whiteoakart2008-04-19

I am not able to form a real band at this time due to family obligations, but if you want to, here are the instruments:
Dr Seuss-a-phone
PVC Native American Flute
Propane Tank Hang Drum
PVC Weed Wacker String Bass

There are links on the pages of the last two to youtube video and photographs of the instruments from Dennis Havlena. He has loads of other homemade instruments, as well, here:
Dennis Havlena

have fun, David

author
Wafflicious (author)whiteoakart2008-05-03

i can play the waffle!

author
Kendallkip (author)Wafflicious2008-08-23

i can play the bacon!

author
JamesRPatrick (author)Kendallkip2008-08-23

I can play the radio!

author
Saturn V (author)JamesRPatrick2010-04-11

I can play the keyboard! (the computer kind)

author
theawesomeninja (author)Saturn V2011-07-22

I can play all your mothers!!!! and the violin

author

Me=Totally interested. And, I would totally be in your band.

author
cjfitz (author)whiteoakart2008-04-18

These sound awesome! I'd love to get the links to all as my daughter-in-law is a band teacher and I know she'd love to have them. Just something to break up the day to day lessons.

author
darus67 (author)whiteoakart2008-04-17

It would be so cool if you could pull that together and get a gig at Maker Faire.

author
ti112 (author)whiteoakart2008-04-14

That would be a most awesome band

author
Hakman (author)whiteoakart2008-04-13

I love these straws, and any weird musical instrument. I would love to be in your band. Contact me somehow, I don't think I can post an e-mail address. But post some links.lol.

author
Azzlan (author)whiteoakart2008-04-12

Hi there i like your idea and i think imk crazy enough. Will you post me your links im really interested

author
bruno13069 (author)2011-07-22

I made one of these in Jr. High using 2 straws from different places to make a "slide whistle" type oboe.. It was fun to play.

author
bwells2 (author)2011-06-23

Sounds like farting, pfff pfff pfff pfff, no offence, XD

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shoemaker (author)bwells22011-06-23

Your farts sound funny.

author
bwells2 (author)shoemaker2011-06-24

Yours sound as funny as mine, so don't start.

author
reeding (author)2008-04-11

im really slow on this how do you place your lips?

author
heyxitsxvic (author)reeding2009-01-06

haha you figured it out in just a minute. nice.

author
isaac! (author)heyxitsxvic2010-02-27

well, his name is "reeding"

author
reeding (author)reeding2008-04-11

never mind

author
apburner (author)2008-11-30

This is a great diversion for kids. I was making these for my kids 20 years ago. They are really loud. also. You can tune them by making them longer or shorter. I don't think I saw that in your instructable, if it was then I am sorry. I would make 3 or 4 different lengths and my 2 kids could do a band of sorts.

author
Anton1995 (author)2008-05-06
author
kgtateddy (author)2008-04-24

the video was really funny.. i will try it.

author
Charlie24601 (author)2008-04-18

Oh man, i forgot about these. I used to make them in high school, but I would cut down the straw so it was only about 1.5 inches long. That way I could have it concealed in my mouth and no one would see it. Me and 2 or 3 friends would each have one....used to drive the pircipal nuts as he vainly searched for the whistle blower...

author
pacey_waring (author)2008-04-17

LASER-GUIDED LOLBOMB

author
highvoltageev (author)2008-04-12

Very interesting, however, what you've created is a form of double reed instrument, such as an oboe, instead of a horn. Horns use lip vibrations to make sound as you blow, this uses the vibrations of the two slits of straw.

author
shoemaker (author)highvoltageev2008-04-15

I actually noted that in very small writing on the title page of the video. I decided to leave it out of the instructable for bevity's sake. Thanks for bringing it up.

author
highvoltageev (author)shoemaker2008-04-16

Ahh. I didn't catch that at first. I don't blame you. Had you titled it "Oboe from a drinking straw", a large amount of people would have no idea what you were doing. (I'm an oboe player myself. I'm just glad you do recognize the difference.)

author
AT (author)2008-04-13

I am going to have to try this method. Back in the day, we would just flatten out the end of the straw and blow through it to get a noise. I never through about cutting it. This would make an interesting experiment. Post this method at a McD's or BK so that the kids can see it. Then video the results. I'm sure the minimum wage employees would just love the excitement and musical entertainment.

author
shoemaker (author)AT2008-04-15

I wasn't able to get it to work by just flattening the straw. Any pointers?

author
AT (author)shoemaker2008-04-16

Hmmm? It seems to me that we flattened one end of the straw using our teeth and then played it similar to how you would play an Obo. As I remember, it wasn't easy to always get it to work. I am sure my parents were glad of that fact.

author
topazeyes (author)2008-04-10

Anyone ever watch Mr. Wizards wourld? that's were I learned how to make one of these. I had forgotten all about this. I will show this to my kids now.

author
shoemaker (author)topazeyes2008-04-15

I didn't see that episode, though I learned a lot of good stuff from that guy. I actually learned this one in grade school maybe 20 years ago.

author
Birdi3 (author)2008-04-12

i just want to comment on the whole pvc pipe horn with the straw. i don't mean to be rude, but if you've ever played trumpet then you don't need the straw to make that type of "trombone". great instructable by the way :D

author
whiteoakart (author)Birdi32008-04-14

'Tis true, Birdi3, but it will have a very different sound with a trumpet style embouchure than a double reed style.

author
shoemaker (author)whiteoakart2008-04-15

This instrument is also easier on the lips. Less lip numbing = better kissing.

author
Birdi3 (author)whiteoakart2008-04-15

ohh, i see, but im a brass player, so i naturally support anything to do with brass instruments. woodwind instruments rock, but i personally prefer trumpet ;-). it would be cool to have both. P.S. if u make a pvc band post a video on youtube.

author
miked2001 (author)2008-04-15

Like it. I do this often in restaurants when there are kids around, they love it! I often cut the straw short and cup my hands around it and flap one hand making a duck call (bwa wa wa wa). Adults think I'm certifiable, My wife wants to slap me :-) and the kids think it's the coolest thing.

author
shoemaker (author)miked20012008-04-15

My wife is kinda the same way. I guess its not that fun if your not participating.

author
SergeantRage425 (author)2008-04-13

neato, mine works great., PS/ I just got home from McDonalds. So i used that straw..Yay

author
Kiteman (author)2008-04-09

We call these straw oboes over here. I spend a whole lesson making them with a class and modifying the noise. You can make a crude instrument by poking holes along the straw and covering/uncovering them with your fingers, or slide one straw inside another for an odd little trombone. The best time was when I made these for my kids in McDonalds. A bunch of other kids looked on enviously, so I made a bunch for them as well, in a range of lengths. I gave some to their teenage siblings and their parents as well. Then we left. A few minutes later, we saw them all being thrown out of the burger joint ...

author
Labot2001 (author)Kiteman2008-04-13

LOL

Did that really happen??

author
Kiteman (author)Labot20012008-04-13

It certainly did. Fortunately, I didn't know any of the parents.

author
whiteoakart (author)Kiteman2008-04-11

You are my hero, Kiteman!

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