How to make a miniaturized harp from a plastic throwing disc or "frizbee disc". The instrument uses a disc only 10 inches in diameter and 2 inches thick including the resonator chamber. The strings are polymer elastic to make up two and one-half octaves.Sharps are made separately as will be shown.
The elastic plastic strings gives several advantages: easy tuning, good pitch stability,unbreakable, replaceable, low cost, easy to amplify, ease of portability and easy to play by anyone.
Also if anyone wishes to make professional wood construction harps and lyres see the web page or email for more information.


Picture of MATERIALS

1-Disc.Here I had available a 10 inch Pro-Flyer with a .125 to .15 in. side wall thickness. Another disc was found at a dollar store. It had a .062 wall thickness but worked satisfactorily when the 5/8 size cup-hook screw used for tuning was inserted into a predrilled 1/16 bit hole. Some plastic discs are very flexible and need to be re-enforced with a glued on resonator dish on the back for rigidity before string assembly. After the glue sets cut out a 4 inch round disc from the resonator .I like to use flower pot saucers but even a soup plate will work..
2- Tuner- Use 5/8 size nickel or brass plated cup-hook screws.Use the type with a washer collar molded on .The hook needs to be closed with a plier. This is necessary to tie the string to inside the loop thus formed.A 1/16 in. drill bit is needed for the holes used by this size screw.
3- Crimps- Strings are held in place using jewelry crimps. They can be u-shaped, tubes or bead crimps.They are available in art-craft stores and are economical.One crimp is used at the screw end and one at the anchor end under the disc.Plastic strings when knotted come unravelled so crimps must be used or glue in place . Long nose pliers are ok for crush-crimping.
4- Strings- I use stretch-cord made of space-age polymer found under Arts and Craft jewelry..Clear material can be colored using color perm-markers. The E-6000 glue will not soften the plastic 1mm. diameter strings.
4-Tools- See figure- Also a Dremel is ok for hole drilling. using 1/16 bit.
5- Cost of materials --under $5.00

Step 2: ASSEMBLY/ Layout

Picture of ASSEMBLY/ Layout

1-Layout- see diagram for a approximately 9 inch disc. Nothing here is very critical . Find the center of the disc. Then draw a Center-line as shown. Using a compass /dividers strick an arc. Sart the first note ,Here I used the [A] note.3.3 in. from the CL(center-line) on the top lip of the disc. Mark off .625in. spacings for the 17 Notes.. Drill 1/16 holes one-half way down from the lip at each marking.
Finally at the arc- points drill 17 holes using the 1`/16 in. bit.These are the anchor holes.They are spaced .30 inches apart.tape in a disc of paper on the inside of the disc to use for marking.
The compass-point is 2.2in. down from the center for the 3.0in. Radius arc. Drill point 'A' on the arc 2.1in. to the left of the Center point of the disc. Then mark off the .30in. spacings from 'A' pt. as shown.



1Tuner- after all tuner screws are squeezed closed loop start them in the predrilled holes.Use a pliers if needed to screw in.They must be screwed all the way to the collars. Then two more revolutions.The extra revolutions loosens the screw slightly for ease of future tuning.
2-Stringing- cut each string as needed about 2 inches longer than shown in the diagram.Make a crimp at one end using a crimp tube and pliers.Then tie a simple knot and pull tight. then rotate the string counter-clockwise two times around the top of the collar and pull string down into the anchor holes. Grab with a hemostat on the under side. Pull the string and pluck it to within one note less than the desired note.Lock the length on the underside with the hemo.Then place a u-crimp next to the locked hemo. Then remove hemo. Finally re-tune by rotating clockwise the tuner screw. This is then repeated for the remaining Note strings.Cut off the excess.



1-Resonator- Used to build up volume. Any dish can be used but must be cut out to get at the underside crimps. Here a solid pan was used. It added rigidity to the disc also when glued on.
The hole can be closed when finished stringing and crimping. I used an old CD .



Shown here we have used various dishes, and pans, to construct a harp.
To sound like a banjo I used a small dog food aluminum can for the center resonator inside of a larger soup dish. I had to glue rods around the circumference of the dish to anchor the tuning screws.
For the screws I used .093 bits holes in the plastic rods. This type construction is wide open to the imagination and is a lot of fun to make.


1-Pitch drift stability- All types of instrument strings whether steel or nylon,etc.,drift with time when under tension.Some are very tension sensitive. Polymeric elastomeric strings also change their vibration rate [pitch] with time. The initial drift will start right after they are in tension being noted as a negative shift of the tuned note. Thus one has to expect a drift of one note to a lower pitch which stabilizes in about 2 hours. After the initial tuning after a two hour wait the strings are again re-tuned to their nominal value. The drift will be less with each subsequent re-tune. The drifting effect is only a release of molecular tension and heat and humidity has very little effect.
When multi-strand elastomeric string is used the long term drift is very small. Drift of 1/2 note maximum is noted over a 2 month period. Problem is -suppliers are hard to find thus this is why I use solid mono-layer type string instead and need to re-tune more often.

2-Tuning screws- The only ones as described above I use is brass plated or nickel plated steel.The reason is the collar. it must be integral with the hook .It is needed to contain the string from pinching
as the screw is rotated clockwise[i.e. tuned}. Cost of 100 screws is under $4.00 in most hardware stores.
3-Tune-up - I have used my $20.00 Casio[R] . Also I can use my Chromatic harmonica . Pianos are nice too if you can lug it to your work bench.Or, you can make one of my Instructable mini- tuners,tune it at the piano and use it. Obviously my electronic tuner [$19.00] can be used but I find it cumbersome but accurate.
4-Amplification- I use a wireless mike I bought at a drugstore{Hanna Montana no less}.Works fine.
You may cut a 1in,Dia. side hole in the resonator to insert the mike tube.Tune your FM set to the noted frequency on the instruction sheet.Play as loud as you want.
5-Tuning range- I use about 2 octaves starting at Middle C of the Piano. Lower frequencies [Notes} can be constructed to Cm-1. but more room is needed or use a 12 inch disc.
6-Sharps[flats] notes are generated by applying slight finger pressure just down from the tuner screw about 1/4 inch and pluck the string.Some note bending will be noted but a 1/2 note increase is easily obtained. C note can be increase to C sharp [C#]. Extra strings for sharp notes is too involved and unlike a harp there is very little room for more strings. Bflat is actually A# .
7-Marking- notes location can be actual letters, pen markings, or as shown drawing a treble and base clef drawing. I also red ink mark my Cm string. Any color is well taken using a permanent felt tip marker. Green ink can be a G-string, etc.

I am going to submit this Istructable for the Music contest. So let me know if you can make this item.



SarahK98 (author)2016-05-01

I don't understand how to tie the strings to the cup hook screws at the right tension?

mistic (author)SarahK982016-05-01

see my new e Book at kindle titled How to make a disk harp and other musical instruments. By George. Mistic. Under $10.00. It will solve your tying situation. Have fun.

ColemanSamuel (author)2016-05-01

The string thickness does matter; as you can only get so much range of sound out of one type of string. I found mine at Michaels (same as Jo-Anne's). I used hot glue and it worked great but you need to be careful that you cool it quickly and don't apply too much direct heat as it can potentially melt the string.

MichaelC21 (author)2015-01-04

Does the string thickness matter?

Can I use hot glue instead of E6000?

mistic (author)MichaelC212015-01-05

use 1mm. only

MichaelC21 (author)mistic2015-01-05

Thank you for your quick reply! I have one more question. I went to Walmart to buy the materials. But, they didn't have 5/8" hooks in stock, they had 1/2" hooks. Will it be okay?

ColemanSamuel (author)MichaelC212016-02-20

I found the hooks at a basic dollar store... Probably cheaper too

SarahK98 (author)ColemanSamuel2016-05-01

Help me!!

ColemanSamuel (author)SarahK982016-05-01

Sarahk98 could you narrow down what part you are having trouble with

SarahK98 (author)ColemanSamuel2016-05-01

How to tie the strings to the cup hook screws after its tuned to the right tension?

SarahK98 (author)SarahK982016-05-01


jrokswiman36 (author)2013-04-17

Thank you for posting the directions for this awesome instrument. I made this harp for a High School Physics project. I was able to follow the directions and get it to work perfectly. I used a $15 guitar tuner that sensed vibration to tune all of the strings. The only suggestion I would give to improve this project is the inclusion of a better picture of how the strings are tied to the cup hook screws and/or a better explanation of this part of the process. I found this to be the most confusing. I enjoyed making it and, if you dont want to make a simple pvc pipe flute with holes in it for your instrument, I recommend this project.

SarahK98 (author)jrokswiman362016-05-01

Could you explain how the strings are tied to the cup hook screws?

mistic (author)jrokswiman362013-04-17

Thanks for the complement. I am happy that you liked the project.The tie to the cup hook can also be performed using a larger diameter eyelet, place the string thru the eyelet string the end thru the hook and back to into the eyelet. then hold the eyelet with a plier and snug it up to the cup hook and squeeze.. I should make a diagram of this.The method I show in the DIY is a knot but needs a end crimp to keep the knot from slipping thru or unwinding ..Keep up the good works.

SarahK98 (author)2016-04-30

I don't understand the stringing part at all after pull it around twice counter clockwise

avocadostains (author)2015-01-21

what keeps the screw from turning backwards when you increase the tension? I tried simple screws as tuners before but as you raise the pitch it just seems to unwind itself. You can only achieve very low tension, whereas with a regular guitar tuner you can keep turning and turning, even breaking the string.

mistic (author)avocadostains2015-04-03

I understand your dilemma. Yes it can 'un-screw'. The key here is that the torsion is controlled by the size of the drill hole and the hardness of the material. Using a drill smaller as .078 the tension is high enough to hold. For hard wood we have used .093 drill size and it held for at least 5 years. We actually rotate the screw at least 20 times inward in tuning and it still holds.
The idea is to use low tension elastic polymer string that needs about 1/10 th the tension of equivalent wire strings.Non-stretch plastic or steel wire wont work here. Thats the secret of my devices success.We have developed other methods of tuner screws also but never divulged them. Some day we will publish all.

mistic (author)avocadostains2015-01-21

There can be a problem if the predrilled hole is larger than the designated .093 in. for the 5/8 size screw. The torque will be lower for larger sized drill bits. A bit that is slightly smaller as .078 in. gives a very good torque, try that. Always screw in clockwise . If you screw in allway then back-out it will loosen some what. for at least 3 turns but will still have good torque.
Another situation is insufficient wall thickness i that you screw into.
awall thickness of .15 to .25 will give a good torque. If disk wall is under 1/8 inch it will give insufficient torque.

mistic (author)2015-01-05

. go to any hardware store.5/8 size only.

mistic (author)2015-01-05

Go to any hardware store.They have a box of 100 for about 5.00The larger size will interfere in tuning being too close together.

mistic (author)2015-01-05

use E6000 only

Kyosuke Kiryu (author)2013-03-12

Can all of these be bought at hobby lobby and home depot?

mistic (author)Kyosuke Kiryu2013-03-29

Yes But---. The tuning screws size 5/8 I found at a hardware store and wal-mart. Crimp eyelets are easy to use but not found easily.Hobby shops have them.
Discs might be a problem in some cases because some are made of very thin plastic and are too flexible too.
I found a good disc for $1.98 at a Pet-Smart store, It was a 9 inch diameter.Dogs love flying discs.It was a harder material.
You could re-inforce the flexible ones by gluing a steel ring or another disc on the back side before stringing it.If you use steel ring it is found at Micheals stores under knitting or crochetting I believe.They also have plastic 9 inch rings that I used for disc re-inforcements.
Any other questions let me know. Good luck.

MandooNess (author)2012-02-26

How do you get the strings to stay on the cup screws? I'm having trouble getting mine to stay. I'm using the plastic strings - the same type that you illustrated on the materials page. I crimped one end and it just doesn't stay when I wrap it around the screw.

mistic (author)MandooNess2012-02-26

If I have it right - you crimp the string around the looped screw.
And it comes off. right> This can happen when the open looped screw is not closed completely with the pliers. A small slit opening remains and the string can slip thru.
My solution for that is to get a larger jawed plier and really close that slit up.
On the other hand if it is still a problem I tie the sting with a small crimp on the end in the loop then dress down the string while rotating the string counter-clock-wise. This will be fine if the slit end is opposite the winding around at the collar of the screw. Tension will hold it away. Alternately you can dropplet a small amount of goop glue on the slit and let it harden before you attach the string.

XxAlziexX (author)2011-11-04

So I brought my instrument in, as we had to play an octave and perform a song, and everyone LOVED it, and I had my iPod with me so I could use my piano app and tune it real quick and I got bonus points for it being so easy to tune.

Everyone wanted to play it.

Great job, and thank you so much!! :D

mistic (author)XxAlziexX2012-01-01

Thank you Xx--You don't know how happy this makes me feel, as I never get any one to tell me how their projects worked out.
I'm happy for you... keep up the good work. A lot of my mini-musical instruments can be easily made in 5 nights of effort.
Can you post a YouTube video or a emailed picture? You could become famous...

XxAlziexX (author)mistic2012-01-01

I just e-mailed it :)
i'd do a video but the frisbee got really warped due to all the tension on just one side. i got a 90 on my project, and the points taken off were for the research paper lol, not the instrument. but i had a blast making it, and it ended up pretty much getting passed around the classroom haha. :D

thanks again.

mistic (author)XxAlziexX2012-01-01

That's OK Xx- you had fun making something new.
Just a note on discs.. I usually use a thicker more costly frizzbe whose walls are about 1/8 in. thick. These are now 8 years old and still easy to play.

XxAlziexX (author)2011-10-23

Could fishing line work for the strings?
I also just snapped a guitar string and I need new ones anyway so the other 5 could possibly work? no?

mistic (author)XxAlziexX2011-10-24

I tried nylon fish line.. It was too darn sensitive to tune . This is why I ended up using stretch polymer strings -they are very easy to tune.
They also need a very low tensioning and the tuning mechanism is very simple. The steel and the non-stretchable nylons need a very high tension.

XxAlziexX (author)mistic2011-10-26

Thanks! I have to go to the craft store anyway to get the hooks, i was trying to see if i could squeak out of going haha.
I too have to do this for Physics, hopefully it comes out good, I wanna see if I can play Hey There Deliliah on it for my grade :D
I can play it on guitar, should be simple enough to translate if I did it right, I think.

phum1 (author)2011-07-24

What should the length of each string be? I'm confused. :S Please respond soon?

mistic (author)phum12011-10-24

sorry for the lost time-- String length-
If you follow the diagram th string length is indicated as shown. The length is not too important for the device to generate the notes because the note generation is mainly adjusted by tensioning or pulling on the string end in construction then tying it or anchoring it down .

mistic (author)phum12011-07-24

The diagram shows the length of the strings after it is in place.
The first or lowest note string is about 3 in long . But it is not critical on length . It can be 2.5 to 3.5 inches and it will work ok.
The string itself as cut from the spool is about 3.5 inches long . It can be up to 4 in. long.and is long enough to make a anchoring and twoturns around the tuning screw after it is stretched to the desired note. Notice -you have to pull on the string and it will stretch about 1 to 5 inches beyond thebase anchor point. to get to the proper note.. In the stretched condition the string is then anchored but its length will remain as shown about 3. inches at point A note.
Hope this helps...

phum1 (author)mistic2011-07-25

Thank you very much! I'm using this article to make a similar musical instrument for my physics class. I find your article very helpful! Thaks again!

mistic (author)phum12011-07-25

You might find it useful to review my Inst-able "How to make a mini-Ukulele" date published Jan 14, 2010.
Here we used stretch strings for this 3 string Mini. good luck

livestron (author)2010-10-13

Which way are the strings suppose to turn. I have been working on this and it doesn't seem to come out correct. Can you help me?

mistic (author)livestron2011-07-24

turn the strings so theywind on the tuner screw clockwise.

themoonpeach (author)2011-05-29

What kind of glue is that?

mistic (author)themoonpeach2011-05-30

The glue that was used here was E6000 that is what you look forwhen you buy it.
It is a perclorethylene solvent based plastic .That means you need to be sure you have adequate ventilation while it is hardening. It is a very strong plastic after it hardens completely in about 4 hours to 5 hours. An alternate is Goop Glue that is available also in art and craft stores and hardware stores.

MPLS_CBG (author)2011-05-21

Thanks! I have been toying with the idea of a "no keys" piano for sometime now but had hesitated due to the complexity. This looks like a doable approach.

mistic (author)MPLS_CBG2011-05-21

Good luck and let me know if you have any problems on the construction.

spark master (author)2011-03-11

nifty item, there was once on the web a gent who listened to singing telephone poles. He rigged up a resonator (think string and cup) sort like your resonators and used it to listen to and record the vibrations we do not hear coming off phone poles . I lost the url and the saved copies of his pages , so any clue how to do that one and or have you ever seen the pages, or anyone else out there.please post back .

thanks (he called them singing telephone poles, I tried google many ways plus other search engines but no go)


mistic (author)spark master2011-03-11

That is an interesting phenomina of vibrating wires observation. I have never read about the method used hear. I did try vibrating plastic strips 4 feet long and attached a mike to the resonator to amplify the sound.

spark master (author)mistic2011-03-11

the gent made "speakers" using cups or tin cans (don't remember). I thought this was very cool but had no time to do it. I lost his url's and the way back machine can't locate it. IT IS OUT THERE (oouuuhh how Xfiles), but I know not where. I think I know how to do it but am not sure . It has interesting applications for other things shown here on instructables. If you google "singing telephone poles" you get everything but his page/site.


zourza (author)2009-12-07

 That is wonderful! im always looking for good quality homemade instruments, and this one is definitely one of the better ones i've seen. please, keep 'em coming :)

mistic (author)zourza2009-12-08

One can use this basic design idea and build harps and zithers from almost any resonating device  like a tin pan, etc. lots of fun. some one could start a club  .

jahmad93 (author)2009-12-07

Can this play at least 5 different notes?

mistic (author)jahmad932009-12-08

it can play chords and melodies.  like a piano. sharps are  an added finger manipulation  unless one tunes the key to that note. F key would be tuned to F#.

About This Instructable




Bio: A retired electronics engineer -motorola. delveing into new craft ideas and contest entries.
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