This is the first of an evolving series of tootophones that I have made.  I leave it up for historical interest, but suggest you try the "Tiny Tootophone"  for the basic mouthpiece, and the "Tootophone Sax and Trumpet" for some interesting body variations using x-ray film.  This PVC design is not even in my "top ten" list any more.  My latest tootophones have only one fingering hole.  

The body of this tootophone is made of 1/2" CPVC pipe, which is used for hot water plumbing and is of a smaller diameter than 1/2" PVC pipe. 

The tootophone is similar to a soprano recorder in terms of size and finger spacing.  The mouthpiece is heat formed to make it a little narrower than the CPVC pipe.

The reed is cut from a piece of plastic from an old flat screen monitor I disassembled.  Just about any semi-stiff, clear packaging plastic will work to make a reed that vibrates. 

I have always liked the idea of playing saxophone, but found the bamboo reeds to be frustrating to get sounds out of.  For some reason, these plastic reeds are a lot easier to blow.  Being less frustrating to blow, the tootophone is more fun to play, at least for a beginner.  Being more fun to play, I play more, and that's what it's all about.  Tootophones are fun to play. 

Figure maybe a dollar in material and many hours playing around.  This is very cost effective entertainment. 

Be sure to check out the audio files at the end, to hear what the tootophone sounds like. 

Step 1: Finger Hole Spacing

The distances between holes are copied from a soprano recorder.    The holes are not all placed on the center line down the pipe.  Since some fingers are longer than others, the holes have a little sideways displacement to increase comfort while playing.  When penciling hole locations, hold the pipe as you would while playing it to find and mark a comfortable side displacement for each finger hole.

There are seven finger holes and one hole for the thumb on the opposite side of the body -- the same as on a recorder. 

On a recorder, double holes at #6 and #7 help get half tones.  I elongate my holes and just half-close them when needed. 

i didnt understand how long,what possition,how big that hole and how to calculate it...please teach me...i think you can teach me how to put that holes in vid....i think that way can make me more understand
<p>This was my earliest tootophone post. I leave it up mostly as evidence of the instrument's evolution. I don't recommend you spend your time duplicating it.The hole sizes and spacing are the same as a soprano recorder has, if you really want to make it. I don't have a video camera to show you.</p><p>The more evolved tootophones are much more interesting musically. I suggest you search for &quot;tiny tootophone&quot; or &quot;silicone rubber tootophone mouthpiece&quot;. Start with the tiny tootophone, made from a 10 cent insulin syringe to learn the basics. Once you have made a few and get a feel for how changes in the curve relate to changes in the sound, move on to the silicone rubber mouthpiece, which is the best I have to offer at the moment. <a rel="nofollow">javascript:;</a></p>
<p>what is the equipment needed ?</p>
<p>Mostly a drill, bits, and an X-acto knife. </p>
Old credit cards, debit cards, and gift cards make great reeds.&nbsp; <br /> <br /> I&nbsp;made two of these:&nbsp; one from 3/4&quot; PVC and one from 1&quot; PVC.&nbsp; They sound great, but the finger holes start to get a little far apart for a comfortable reach as the tube gets bigger.&nbsp; A&nbsp;larger mouthpiece will also yield a slower vibration and, therefore, lower note.&nbsp; It might be worth trying to graft a 3/4&quot; PVC mouthpiece onto a 1/2&quot; tooter.&nbsp; The photo is of the 3/4&quot; version.&nbsp; The multitude of holes is for experimentation purposes.<br /> <br />
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That looks impossible to play, that thing has 15 holes
Too many holes! How can you cover them all? :O
I should note:&nbsp; You can make a bell on the end by heating the end (per thinkingstein's instructions in Step 3), then pushing the soft end over a cone shape.&nbsp; I used a funnel.<br />
can you fit a real cane instrument reed on that
Sounds halfway between a saxophone and a kazoo
Hey Thinkenstein! <br>Your reed instrument has pushed me to make a saxophone. I have made a mouthpiece that looks like yours and it gives a good, saxophony sound. But, unfortunately, no matter how long my pvc tube is, it gives the same high pitch. I made the mouthpiece-fingerholetube connector from a piece of cardboard and taped it with electrical tape (all over the cardboard). Did I do anything wrong? <br>Please, help me.
Hi Ssjcell1. This was one of my first tootophones. It was always a bit out of control. I suggest you forget this and move on to my &quot;tiny tootophone&quot; instructable, and the saxtooter and trumpetooter instructable. The saxtooter uses the tiny tootophone mouthpiece, made from an insulin syringe (about 15 cents to make), uses a silicone rubber reed, and sounds reasonably like a sax. The body is made of x-ray film, free from the x-ray lab at the hospital. <br><br>Hope that helps.
What's the range on this?
My tootophones have evolved quite a bit since this one. I never play this one any more. My favorites are of the tiny tootophone variety. https://www.instructables.com/id/Tiny-Tootophone<br><br>They get a couple octaves with no problem.
could you use a saxophone reed on it.<br>My dad said he had one I could borrow.
Search for &quot;Tiny Tootophone&quot; to get my favorite tootophone design. They have evolved over time, and this PVC design was one of the first. <br><br>Regular reeds are stiffer than the plastic and rubber I use. Softer reeds are easier to blow. Tootophones have gotten easier to play the smaller they have gotten. Some of my favorite reeds are made of silicone rubber, sometimes mixed with filler powders, like Cab-o-sil, a powder used as filler in epoxy clay, I believe. Others are made with x-ray film plastic, after scrubbing off the image. <br><br>Anyway, I suggest you skip ahead to the Tiny Tootophone, which is made of an insulin syringe and costs about 15 cents to make. <br><br>Have fun!
I am now the proud owner of my own Tootophone (thank you Thinkenstein) and I just love it, it is really easy to get the hang of, and my dogs love it too - everyone should make one because it is so easy to stick in your pocket and take everywhere with you. The sound just makes everyone happy.
Happy is good. Thanks.
I would very much like to make one using some old venetian blinds strips to make the reeds as I have some laying around. or do you think they would be too stiff to make an effective reed?<br />
be careful! I understand that depending on how old venetian blinds are they could be contaminated with lead. When I had my house treated for lead contamination, the blinds were part of what had to go because they were contaminated. Lead was used in the manufacturing process. Please don't poison yourself.
Venetian blinds often have a longitudinal curve to them.&nbsp; If they are flat, then they will work.&nbsp; As I&nbsp;mention in another post, I&nbsp;use a discarded credit card, which is pretty darn stiff.<br />
&nbsp;Why not just take up the kazoo? You get the same awful sound...<br /> (I don't mean to be mean, it's too hard to convey tone over the internet.)
I just made a new tootophone recording with better equipment.&nbsp; It's in the last step.&nbsp; Hope you like it. <br />
I like to think that it sounds better live than the dictation recorder I have is able to present it.&nbsp; It does have some kazoo qualities at times.&nbsp; Sometimes it sounds sax-like, or horn-like, or like something bizarrely different.&nbsp; <br /> <br /> Anyway, I still have a lot of fun playing it, and I think play is an element of music making that is good to hang onto.&nbsp; <br /> <br /> While both the kazoo and the tootophone are voice-like in a way, the tootophone has a greater range of notes, and playing a reed instrument is different than humming into a kazoo.&nbsp; There is no use of the vocal cords, for one thing.<br /> <br /> I have found that music is sometimes more enjoyable for the musician to listen to than for others.&nbsp; Oh well...<br />
&nbsp;I see. It is a very interesting and fun looking project. Respect.
sounds like a kidnap/rape scene.. wtf.<br /> <br /> BUT&nbsp;BESIDES&nbsp;THAT: good instructable. is it possible to get a cleaner tone out of it?<br />
I just made a new tootophone recording with better equipment.&nbsp; It's in the last step.&nbsp; Hope you like it.&nbsp; <br />
Yes, one can get cleaner tone.&nbsp; I think the main problem is the dictation recorder I used to record it.&nbsp; It is meant for voice recording and doesn't have a great microphone.&nbsp; <br /> <br /> Also, there is sometimes a world of difference between different mouthpieces.&nbsp; I have made about 20 or 30 tootophones, and my favorite one is almost effortless in getting the notes I imagine.&nbsp; Some are far from easy to play.&nbsp; <br />
This would go over great on YouTube.&nbsp; How about some vids?
I don't have any video equipment, but thanks for the idea.&nbsp; <br />
looks cool it reminds me a lot of a xaphoon, a sort-a cross between a sax a clarinet and a recorder.<br /> <div id="refHTML">&nbsp;</div>
Everyone should go to the site of the guy who makes <a href="http://www.saxophones.co.uk/xaphoon.htm" rel="nofollow">bamboo xaphoons </a>out of Maui.&nbsp; He is a true maker. He has a video of the process of making one.<br />
almost a saprano sax
We need to see exactly how it goes in the mouth - pointy end first, obviously, but how far, and at what angle?<br />
THATS&nbsp;what she said. :D
Those are all variables one has to explore.&nbsp; <br /> <br /> The farther it goes in the mouth, the more reed vibrates and the lower the pitch.&nbsp; <br /> <br /> <br />
&nbsp;Cool! &nbsp;I love DIY instruments!

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm a refugee from Los Angeles, living in backwoods Puerto Rico for about 35 years now and loving it. I built my own home ... More »
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