Instructables
Everyone has just about seen a rainstick, but their sound is hit and miss. You usually have to go through a few of them to find one that sounds good to your ears... but they dont always sound exactly how you want.

Well, this instructable will show you how to make your very own rainstick that is lightweight and uses common materials laying around the house. This build is extremely easy to tweak your rainstick however you want.

I have been making these ever since elementary school, they are extremely versatile and great for kids to make on their own.

Video of how the rainstick sounds is on the last page.
 
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Step 1: What you need

You will need

1 screwdriver, either hand powered or electric (I used electric since its much MUCH easier and quicker)
1 fabric cardboard tube (see below)
duct tape
a bunch of screws
Something to make the sound (I used a little more than a half pound of lentils on this rainstick, but by all means, experiment with different materials. Pea gravel works extremely well.)\

Total Cost: around $3.00. (.25 for the tube and half of a $5 tub of screws)

Compare that to a $40 rainstick of the same size.

Step 2: Fabric Cardboard Tube

This is the rainstick, more or less. The longer your tube, the more sound you will generate. You can usually get a 4ft to 5ft tube at a thrift store for around .25 cents (thats where I got mine). You also want a thick walled one as well, to hold the screws in better and to put up with more abuse.

You can use just about anything, from plastic tubes, to PVC pipes, to even metal. I am using the cardboard because it is very easy to fix mistakes and to work with.
DaveT227 days ago

For a continuous sound, you could build a square raintube, as another contributor to this site has done. Even better would be a circular one about the size of a steering wheel (no leaning curve!) that you could just turn continuously. You could modulate the sound by the speed at which you turned it.

phildavi6 years ago
I'm 59 years young and this is the first time I've come across this RAIN STICK.But come to think of it I think I've seen some guys in either blues or rock band shaking a stick.Maybe rain sticks?
bwente6 years ago
I made one for a kids party years ago. I also used a tube from the fabric store. Instead of screws I used bamboo skewers. I drilled holes to get them started, then pushed them in and cut off the excess with garden shears. The ends were still a bit rough, so I used a "dollop" of hot glue on each one. It added to the texture and feel of it. I then used dried rice as the filler.
Flumpkins6 years ago
Cool. My teacher has one of those
This is awesome im sort of aninja fan and i could probaly turn this into a distractive weapon
A weapon? Why would you want to turn this into a weapon? Other than then obvious, I don't see why. I'll list a few reasons here, if I may. 1) Who's going to be distracted by the sound of rain? Anyone you're attempting to distract will most probably discount the sound as a coming shower. 2) Even if they don't, it'll probably alert them to your presence. 3) It doesn't last long enough to allow you to set it and escape w/out being caught. 4) It's much better to use it as an offensive weapon (as my children have proven), ie. hitting someone over the head w/ it (works wonders assuming that it's made out of a good hard plastic, judging by the wails and tattles of "...HIT ME!") In other words, just use it as a rain stick instead of thinking of ways you can hurt someone w/ it.
for one things imagine someone is looking for you and you are hidden in the room they are in you could throw it across the room therefore making th rain noise and also makign some crashing and calttring so while u r here) he is here- ths is where he will be heading= =-) like my trick lol
shooby6 years ago
So this is basically a stick that has objects inside, you turn it upside down and it makes a rain sound? In order to focus on what material sounds best, you could line the inside of the tube with felt or something else soft (old T-shirt maybe), so that the sound of the object scraping against the cardboard can be cut out. Unless that's desirable of course, I've never seen/heard one of these so I'm not sure.
laminterious (author)  shooby6 years ago
you havent ever seen a rainstick? Check out the wiki

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rainstick

Its about the same way normal ones are made, this though uses up the cardboard for a practical and musical use, instead of just letting it go to waste. If you had a tree that produced thorns, you could use the thorns instead of screws, but alas I dont.
Hey I'm 52 and this is the first I have heard of a rain stick. Chances are I have heard one before, being use as a special effects tool. Standard PCV may have too thick a wall as I'm guessing the tube wall is the sound board. If I go through the effort I want the sound to last as long as possible. I'll dig around to see if I have any thin wall pipe laying around yet
laminterious (author)  static6 years ago
Actually, the length of the sound depends on the length of the tube, the sound matrix (or whatever you have in the tube, like beans, or pebbles, or whatever), and the obstructions, as in the case above, screws.

To get a longer sound, you could put pieces of plastic between every few screws so they are sandwiched in so to speak as impulse94 suggested.

You can also attack a contact pic to it withe a foot pedal and an amp to get the sound to last longer.

The only other way I can think of would be to have the tube stationary and something makes the sound matrix/beans/whatever fall through the tube, collects what comes out, and dumps it back in continuously. Though that would be a big undertaking for something thats being used non-commercially. Though it would be a cool thing, kinda like those water fountains, but would be a rainstick fountain.
laminterious (author)  laminterious6 years ago
Oh, and the sound come from the screws mainly. The pebbles/beans/whatever hit the screws on the way down, bounce off, hit the walls of the tube and onto other screws and ect. Without the screws, it really only make a slight sliding sound, which isnt desirable... nor would it be desirable to line the tube in felt. Though it would sound interesting if you lined the tube with aluminum or something.
hippie_mama6 years ago
The video doesn't do the rain stick justic; it sounds much better in person (i live with laminterious).
laminterious (author)  hippie_mama6 years ago
Yea, I think i will take off the video, until we get a better camcorder. It doesnt give the sound any justice at all.
Do you have a microphone you can use with your computer sound card? If you can't beg borrow or steal one they are inexpensive at WalMart.
Fitwit6 years ago
I'm a drummer and have made a few of these with popcorn filler. Unpopped. :-) The kernels won't break like larger beans might. And instead of the screws I've put chicken wire inside the width of the tube and stretching end to end.
BrianKT6 years ago
Would plastic BBs work?
laminterious (author)  BrianKT6 years ago
Definitely. Just about anything small and roundish works. Just play around with what you put in it.
foraneagle26 years ago
Cool. I wonder if there are any types of tree branches that I could find and hollow out for a more natural look and feel.
How about bamboo!
laminterious (author)  foraneagle26 years ago
I am sure you could. Normally, rainsticks are made with dried cactus husks, but if you were wanting to hollow out limbs, it would work just the same way, except you could use nails then instead of screws if you wished.
SpinWard6 years ago
I have 1 1/4 pvc laying around. My 3 year old would love this. And would love "helping" to make it! Thanks for the instructable. Very nice!
implaxis6 years ago
One thing that might improve it would be to lengthen the time of the sound. Perhaps as you add screws from the bottom up, insert a semcircle of plastic (a cut up old CD might work) every few inches or so, alternating sides. This would effectively slow down the descent of the lentils and make the sound last a lot longer.
laminterious (author)  implaxis6 years ago
Ohhh... thats a great idea.
my art teacher in middle school had one at least 4' long seams a little more practical to use nails instead of screws
The problem with nails, is that they dont stay well. The screws actually screw into the cardboard and dont come out, ever. Not even with 3 kids to use it for musical and playtime. Nails will come out, unless you duct tape the whole thing, but then that raises the cost. And you cant then paint it, as my kids decided to do.
Cool! Great Instructable! Thanks Joe
LinuxH4x0r6 years ago
Great job. Could you include a recording of it?
laminterious (author)  LinuxH4x0r6 years ago
Well the video at the end has some crappy sound... but at the moment I dont have any way to really record the sound. I am getting a camcorder soon as well as some contact mics, so that will help with the sound as well. Once I get those I will put up some better sounds.