Picture of PVC Pipe organ
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
10. Screws
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
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bernhardt002 months ago

I really mean if you start at middle C.

bugman113 (author)  bernhardt001 month ago

That I honestly could not tell you, my sincerest apologies.

bernhardt002 months ago

How long do each of the pipes have to be when you're doing a C octave chromatically?

Also is it on the side with the labium lip or the top end? And what purpose does the dowel serve?
bugman113 (author)  BUBONICBLEEZY4 months ago

The dowel basically directs air flow to the labium lip, so it's on the labium lip end.

Is there a way a picture of the passage formed by the cut dowel and the inside of the pipe can be posted? My organ won't produce sound.

bugman113 (author)  mcastorillo4 months ago

Oh I'm a dick for not responding I can't take any pictures right now since it's not with me, also I'd have to take the whole thing apart, but I'll happily give you the references I used to build it and get some pictures up next time I have the thing sitting next to me.

DevinC29 months ago

I thought that length and diameter of the pipes affect the sound pipe organs made. So I was wondering what length and diameter should I do for C4/ middle C? How did you figure it out?

bugman113 (author)  DevinC28 months ago

Trial and error.

GentryD11 months ago

Could you please explain how and where precisely you attach the surgical tubing to the pipes?

bugman113 (author)  GentryD10 months ago

I had to drill a hole into the PVC end caps right in the middle, and simply hot glued them into the caps, there's probably a significantly more effective way of doing it though.

condenasty1 year ago

i'm not sure if this is exactly what bugman did in this tutorial but for those (like me) who had a hard time figuring out how exactly the dowel situation is supposed to work, check out these instructions: http://www.sci-experiments.com/organ_pipes/Organ_Pipes.html

bugman113 (author)  condenasty1 year ago

If it worked for you it worked for you, in fact that labium lip looks a lot cleaner and precise than mine do. So do this way instead, it's probably better.

billbillt1 year ago

that is a very handsome dog you have in your picture.....

bugman113 (author)  billbillt1 year ago

Thank you very much.

I think this is great and would really like to make this for a school project, I was wondering if there was any additional notes/pictures that might be helpful to my building it. Thanks!
bugman113 (author)  knexbuilder123451 year ago

None that I currently have, however I'd be happy to help you to the best of my ability along the way.

I am uncertain on how and where exactly the dowels are placed in the pipes. How are they held in place and still able to leave an opening? How far down the dowels should I sand the slant? Diagonally from one end to the next? I think a picture is needed to show exactly what the dowel should look like and where and how it should be placed in the tubes but that was the only picture you didn't provide.
bugman113 (author)  BUBONICBLEEZY1 year ago

I'm sorry for not replying earlier, I didn't know I'd had comments. The dowels are placed in the same end as the labium, so with the smaller end of the slant on the dowel nearest to the Labium opening. I managed to hold them into place by wrapping a few layers of duct tape on them so that they would fit snuggly into the pipe, while still being able to take out if need be. As for how far you should sand the slant, all that matters is you have a small opening leading into the labium lip around the same width as it is, so once you've gotten it sanded down and that width has been achieved you've gone far enough. And yes, diagonally from one end to the Next. If you need any further clarification please let me know.

I'm almost done with building this but I've encountered a problem with some of the surgical tubing. The clothespins seem to put somewhat of a permanent crimp in the tubing, which means when I open them I have to squeeze/reshape the tubing to allow proper air flow. I tried wrapping electrical tape around the tube to help keep its shape and it worked great for that but with the tape the clothespin isn't strong enough to entirely close the tube again. Any thoughts on how to proceed?

At least a fully detailed description on this part of the procedure, I feel like it is pretty important if I want to make a functioning organ, could you please clarify? I would appreciate it a lot!
billbillt1 year ago
rattyrain2 years ago
It would be cool to make a handheld pipe organ that uses a bagpipe-style bellows
bugman113 (author)  rattyrain2 years ago
So I found out this is a thing... http://www.instructables.com/id/Build-your-own-Smallpipes-for-a-few-bucks-Membra/
bugman113 (author)  rattyrain2 years ago
That would be pretty boss.
bugman113 (author)  bugman1132 years ago
Next time on instructables!
AJMansfield2 years ago
This is a really great  project, and I really like it.
There are a number of significant improvements I could see making to this if I ever do it, that you may also be interested in trying:
- Use a better air source (an air compressor/pump/etc)
- Use better valves (found push-button valves of the right size, 1/8" or 3/16" stem, for under $2 a piece at http://www.clippard.com/products/directional-control-valves-buttons-mini)
- Salvage an old keyboard and mount the valves under the keys
- Make a classier case.

I will probably use some of the stuff from this instructable for another project that I have been thinking about doing for a while.
bugman113 (author)  AJMansfield2 years ago
The point of this when I made it was entirely conceptual so ascetics weren't particularly on the mind, it had to be functional before it could look good... That said I look forward to seeing what you come up with. If I were to try this again I'd make the keyboard look more like a piano with actual keys and add a compressor and things, but this was a first attempt more than anything... Not sure where I was going with that, but thanks for the comment.
kbyrne2 years ago
How does it play music? If the surgical tubeing is filled with air, what is the source of the air?
bugman113 (author)  kbyrne2 years ago
You blow into a tube that leads into the chamber that links all of the surgical tubing and the individual pipes.
Thanks I did not know that. What if a fish tank pump was used and
the hose was pinched to regulate the air supply. Would that idea work with this type of machine? A pump like that is a dollar or two at second hand stores. Best kbyrne
Or attach a fitting for an air compressor. (Make sure you use only pressure-rated components if you do, including valves and the lines to the organ pipes.)
bugman113 (author)  kbyrne2 years ago
The individual hoses are pinches by the clothes pins and all let out a bit of air like that, but the fish tank pump would probably work if it produced 1-2 PSI.
It just needs the smallest version of the pump, one hose outlet type and a regulator before the organ. They have a rubber diaphram
and that might be a problem at 1-2 PSI, but might not. I like the devise
and may try that plus a automatic pump devise to keep my hands free
to play with sounds. Best kbyrne
If you watch the video he was blowing into the tube.
AJMansfield2 years ago
Shouldn't the planning have been done before we even started making the pipes?
bugman113 (author)  AJMansfield2 years ago
I mean if you have an idea for the shape of the organ that would be compromised if you made the pipes first, but I had planned on making a small octave instrument and also measuring how long the thing needed to be could only take place once I'd had the pipes cut and started fitting them.
AJMansfield2 years ago
Also, you don't actually say what you are adjusting on the pipes to tune them. Are you shaving the lengths, adjusting the collar, or constricting the airflow from the source on each pipe?
bugman113 (author)  AJMansfield2 years ago
You adjust the length of the pipes, which is why I put a lot of mention into the length of the pipes.
AJMansfield2 years ago
Do you know how you would go about tuning the harmonics of each pipe? It will sound much more like a real organ if you tune the first (and perhaps even the second, if possible) harmonic to the correct pitch, not just the fundamental.
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