Introduction: PVC Pipe Organ
Second Prize in the
Musical Instruments Contest
In this instructable I will be taking you through the steps of making a simple PVC pipe organ. We'll learn how to make the flutes, tune them, make a body for the instrument, and connect the pipes to keys. Please remember that you are only limited by your creative mind and time constraints in my case, this is only to provide a basic idea on how to make these and expanding upon these ideas is encouraged to make an instrument of your very own. (Builder's note) If you don't want to spend too much money, but want to try this out I suggest keeping the size of the instrument to a minimum, don't build a full pipe organ if you aren't willing to spend the money on some of the materials.
Important: Some of the instructions are put into the pictures, you will need to expand them to see.
You will need
1. However many lengths of PVC pipe diameter of your choosing (I went with 1", however a larger diameter resonates better.)
2. Wooden dowel the same diameter as the inside of your pipe (It needs to be snug inside of the pipe.)
3. Surgical tubing
4. Wooden Clothes pins (These will be your keys and are simply hot glued into place with a screw holding the surgical tubing into place.)
5. PVC end caps (You guessed it, same diameter as your pipe)
6. Sheets of wood for the body of the instrument
7. A hacksaw
8. A drill
9. A screw driver
11. Hot glue (Or epoxy if you'd rather.)
12. Dermal with wood cutting attachment (Optional)
13. Scroll or Jigsaw (Optional)
14. Random orbital sander
Step 1: Cutting the Dowel
Chose a length for the dowel (About a half inch is good for 1" Pipes) and cut out as many as you've selected pipes (I went with 13 because I wanted 1 chromatic octave), then cut (Or sand) a slant onto the piece of dowel. (I do not have pictures of this, but it's an upwards slant just enough to leave a slight opening at the end near the cut of the PVC
Step 2: Cutting the Labium Lip
The slanted cut seen on some wind instruments (Like the ocarina or tin whistle) is called a Labium lip, it causes the instrument to vibrate and produce a tone. Here's how you cut one into PVC pipe.
Step 3: Tuning the Pipes.
I used a note tuning program on my phone called gStrings (Poor choice of a name) to tune each pipe to a near perfect pitch, this will be by far the most time consuming part of the build. The shorter a pipe gets the higher the pitch gets and the longer it gets the lower the pitch, if you cut the labium lips exactly the same you can change octaves by halving or doubling the length of the pipe (Pitch doubles or halves when making octave leaps.)
Step 4: Planning
For this step you will be basically drawing up a design for your organ, be creative and plan out the spacing of each pipe so you can measure the size of the instrument. You'll also need to make an air chamber to connect all of the pipes to your keys.
Step 5: Cut the Wood
In this step predictably we're taking our design and cutting out the box (Or circle, or triangle or whatever shape you chose for your organ) and getting ready to assemble it. This is also a good time to figure out how you're going to secure your pipes to your instrument (I drilled holes and used caulk to hold them in place.) Mark your design onto the wood you're planning on using and cut it out with a scroll saw (Or Jigsaw if you have one.)
Step 6: Connect the Pipes to the Keys
Drill holes the same diameter as your surgical tubing into all but one of your pvc end caps, cap all of the pipes and leave one end of your air chamber closed, then drill holes for each of your pipes down the length of the chamber for your surgical tubing to go into. measure cut each piece of surgical tubing to go to the pipes then glue the tubing to the end caps on each pipe and the holes in the chamber themselves.
Step 7: You're Done!
You can pretty much do whatever you want with this thing now, paint it, sell it, expand it, have fun with your homemade pipe organ. Unfortunately mine isn't currently working very well, but that comes from poor planning on my part and when I get it up and running again I'll add a video of me playing it.
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