Instructables
Picture of Jumbo Sax Tootophone
JUMBOSAXTOOTER (27).JPG
The jumbo sax tootophone is a reed instrument.  The mouthpiece is the basic tootophone made of an insulin syringe.  (See my instructable   http://www.instructables.com/id/Tiny-Tootophone   to make the mouthpiece.)   This instructable deals with making the x-ray film body.  

I wanted to make a long horn, which involved bending itself up and down a few times to make it more compact and playable.  The areas where the pipe doubles back upon itself use an interesting solution for making the necessary bends.  There is undoubtedly more turbulence in the bends of this instrument than there is in the smooth bends of professional instruments.  It only costs a couple dollars to make, though, and it is so much fun to play that I'm willing to cut it a little slack in my critique.  

The use of rubber bands in combination with clothespins is also an interesting technique for holding the rolled up plastic while gluing it all together with silicone rubber.  They make adjustable, elastic clamps.  They would undoubtedly come in handy for other projects, and maybe deserve an instructable of their own -- simple but effective holding devices.  

Silicone rubber makes an excellent glue for this material.  I use hypodermic syringes with plastic tips for precise application of the silicone.  

Be sure to hear the audio sample of the jumbo sax tootophone in the last step.  
 
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kjcm10 months ago
I love this! I would like to know if controlling the tootophone without hands is easy enough like the kazoo. I would love to incorporate this in my one man homemade instrument band.
Thinkenstein (author)  kjcm10 months ago
Yes, you can play any melody with just the mouth. The hands help out (more open for the high notes; closed for more resistance and the low notes), but they are not necessary. It is not a kazoo. It is played a lot like singing, only without using the vocal chords. The Adam's apple goes up for the high notes, and down for the low notes, like singing.

Jumbo Tootophone, aka the "Poor Man's Contrabass Saxophone"

I like it! this is more my style!
Exocetid2 years ago
I love the "Tootophone" concept and the jumbo sax looked interesting, but I was disappointed at the tone. Just a bit too tinny for a sax. I think this is because of the x-ray film, and I have issues with that as well. I think the only thing going for it is the recycling aspect (not a small thing!) and the gorgeous sic-fi/modern art look to the instrument when completed. Other than that, obtaining it and cleaning it is bothersome.

The film is what makes the sax tinny, I am thinking that a PVC sax might develop the deepness that the x-film one lacks.
Thinkenstein (author)  Exocetid2 years ago
Any time you make a change to the body, you make a change to the sound. I would like to hear a tootophone orchestra someday with a variety of voices, like a human choir.

I know the tinny quality you are talking about. Personally, I find the Jumbo Sax to be the least tinny of the varieties I have made. I have made some with PVC bodies, and they are still tinny. So, I would say the film is not what makes the tinniness, although the body material does affect the sound.

Changing the reed material from x-ray film to silicone rubber, for example, cuts down on the tinniness, but has side effects, like limiting the range of high notes. It creates some incredible base notes, too. I guess, for one thing, that the silicone reeds are heavier and

The Jumbo Sax, with all the length of body didn't really perform as I would have expected -- with deeper, more resonant base notes. Compared to my smaller sax tootophone, the jumbo sax's maximum volume is lower, while the note range is similar. Perhaps the muting affects certain frequencies more than others, because I find it less tinny, also.


I was just speculating on the source of the tinny-ness. It appears that the reed is the key to what kind of sound you get and the body of tubes is then just a resonator for it. I can't say because I have a tin ear (sorry, could not help it) and know little of making music.

The orchestra idea is a great one, especially given the diversity of designs possible--one person producing a low note instrument, another mid-range, another high, etc.. Like Karaoke, no musical ability really needed other than the ability to follow a tune with others. It would make for a fascinating concert!
Thinkenstein (author)  Exocetid2 years ago
Yes, the tinniness probably is in the reed. If you play the mouthpiece with no body extensions of any material, it is tinny. I find the regular "bamboo" reeds to be stiffer material, then the plastics, then the rubber. I lean toward the plastic ones, mostly because I find them easier to play than the bamboo reeds. The rubber reeds have a tendency to shift sideways, which can kill the sound.

It all probably has to do with denseness, springiness, and perhaps the impact of the reed material on the mouthpiece, as sort of a percussive overtone to the "pure" note vibration. Maybe the mouthpiece material has something to do with it, too, if there is a percussive overtone.
So now we have three different reed concepts: bamboo, plastic and rubber, with each imposing different constraints on the sound produced. I think we can agree that the best is bamboo given that it has been in use for centuries. That said, the bamboo is the most difficult to use, the most expensive, etc.

Why not combine the stiffness of the plastic with the mellow-ness of the rubber? I am thinking of that silicone stuff (name escapes me for the moment) that is popular here. Maybe use the plastic as the shaper and stiffener and the rubber as the dampener, which is what is needed as "tinny" is high frequency.

Thinkenstein (author)  Exocetid2 years ago
We think similarly. My favorite reeds are actually of combined materials, x-ray film laminated with a layer of silicone rubber. The silicone sticks well to the film. I squeeze some out on the film, cover it with paper, which lets the silicone vapors escape through the paper, and roll it down with a printmaking roller until it is a minimal layer. When the silicone dries I use water to dissolve and rub off the paper. The reeds are less tinny than straight x-ray film, but still tinny.

I have only tried laminating to one side of the film. It would be a worthwhile experiment to try laminating both sides.

I don't think that "tinny" is just high frequency. Like most instrumental sounds, there is the dominant frequency and also overtones. A flute can create high frequencies without sounding tinny, so I would suspect the tinniness is in the overtones.

Sometimes I toot while wearing ear protectors while working. The volume is muted, but the notes are cleaner in a way, too. Perhaps, the higher overtones tend to be deleted by the ear protectors more than the lower ones.

I wish I had more different materials to experiment with.

By the way, bamboo has been around probably as long as humans have been, but plastics and synthetic rubber are new materials, so length of use is no measure of which is best. As far as bamboo goes, I don't like it that you have to moisten it and keep it moist, that it splits, and that you have to keep replacing it. The sound is nice, but I usually prefer to think along the line of "different but not necessarily any better or worse".

I played around reshaping a regular sax reed to fit my tooters without a great deal of success. Anyway, even if seen as a family of tinny instruments, tooters are so cheap, fun, and I think easy to play that they should definitely have a place in music. If they are more compatible with other tooters than with standard instruments then one can adapt to that. Let there be tootophone bands.
Thinkenstein (author)  Exocetid2 years ago
I'm glad you can imagine it. I wish other could too, especially locally. The band is really slow materializing.
Wildrat2 years ago
At least when the aliens, zombies, and whatever else befalls us, we will have instrument makers.
I played the piece for my 80 year old mother to see if she knew it.
She said it sounds familiar. Is it Bennie James? I said I don't know, sounds like two women talking to me. :)
Nice Job!
Thinkenstein (author)  Wildrat2 years ago
Thanks. If you want to play too, here is where to start: http://www.instructables.com/id/Tiny-Tootophone
pedrobedro2 years ago
As kids when we were allowed to carry pocket knives we used to make something similar called locally a Kek whistle made from a cow parsley stem and a blade of grass. It didn't last long and sounded more like a duck caller but it worked on the same principle.
Thinkenstein (author)  pedrobedro2 years ago
Thanks for the info. Someone else mentioned something similar made from a goose feather. I guess the shaft of the feather is a hollow tube. All the reed instruments probably evolved out of similar humble origins.
protorob2 years ago
About reclaiming the silver out of the emultion:

An uncle of mine did exactly that for a living near 20years ago, the process involved lots of hazardous chemical and heat wich eventualy brings ultratoxic fumes, sum all this with a poor ventilated room and you can imagine what you get.

My uncle whas diagnosticated with some sort of very rare disease known as Castelman Disease that i think is very related to those years of sylver hunting.

If you wan't to do it for fun and just for knowledge and personal satisfacition i think a well ventilated area is a must. Just dont get greed in the process (the sylver fever)

Thinkenstein (author)  protorob2 years ago
Thanks. I think I may just mix all the waste water with cement and make a nice rock out of it.
bombmaker22 years ago
I think daylight savings is already starting to affect me. I thought this said "Jumbo Sax Toothophone"...
Damn dyslexia.. I was laughing at a book in the kids section in the library the other week.. "Erotic Animals" Then it was pointed out to me that it was called "Exotic Animals"
Whoops lol.
Thinkenstein (author)  bombmaker22 years ago
Musical instruments as dental appliances might be the way of the future! Always handy for practice, and giving nice tonal accents to speech.
Haha true!
White_Wolf2 years ago
I'm not sure but you maybe able to reclaim some of the silver by electrolysis. I haven't researched it.
Thinkenstein (author)  White_Wolf2 years ago
Electrolysis is a possibility, but not all of it is finely dissolved. Also, drying and melting it might burn off the impurities, leaving the silver. It would be nice to know what the impurities are, though. If it is just gelatin, I could live with that.
Vaxinius2 years ago
Haha love it! Set this as my cellphone ringtone.
Thinkenstein (author)  Vaxinius2 years ago
How cool! Thanks. That's fun to know.
Ninzerbean2 years ago
That is fabulous sounding!
Thinkenstein (author)  Ninzerbean2 years ago
Thanks. Any change to the body changes the sound. Maybe I'll figure out how it all works someday. For now, it's mostly trial and error.