Conch Shell Horn

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Introduction: Conch Shell Horn

Through the valley, over the mountain, and across the sea, the Conch's cry echoes.
To hear my conch, click here! I'm using sub-par recording software; it can't capture the true richness of the sound, so you'll have to make one and hear for yourself. And make no mistake, this is LOUD, and is in fact an approved U.S. Coast Guard noise signaling device.

How To Make a Conch Horn
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Step 1: The Materials

These are the things you'll need to make a horn.

~One Conch Shell
If you live by the Carribean, you can find them on beaches or dive for them. If you live on any coastline, there is probably an analogous species you can use. For example - if you live in Massachusetts, you can use a Whelk. If you don't have access to the ocean, you can buy one online or at some antique stores and flea markets. Anything from around 6" and up will be fine, size doesn't impact loudness, though can impact pitch (larger = deeper).
~Pick one: Hacksaw, Sawzall with metal-cutting blade, Rock, Chisel and Hammer
~Nail or Center Punch
~Sandpaper or File
~U.S. Dime

Step 2: From Home to Horn

Time to turn that snail's home into a musical instrument.
The objective here is to end up with a hole as wide as a U.S. Dime which will be the mouthpiece on the end of the conch. This means we must break off the tip of the conch. If you choose to use a saw, use ventilation and be prepared to learn just how tough a conch's shell is. If you use brute force, be careful to not take too much off. The key to remember here is that you can always take more off, but you can't put it back on. Over all, 1/8" to 1" of the tip will be removed.

Now, you'll notice a structure in the center of your dime-sized hole. Snap this out with a nail or center punch (1/8" to 3/4" of it may need to be removed). You'll see exactly what I mean when you do it.

Just smooth this mouthpiece with sandpaper or file (to prevent cut lips), and that's it!

Step 3: How to Play

Are you ready to rumble?
If you play a brass instrument such as the trumpet or bugle, you're all set, it's the same thing. If you don't, find someone who does and have them teach you how to 'buzz' your lips. If you can't find anyone, it's like this: you place your top lip slightly over your bottom lip and blow. Keep your lips fairly firm but not tight so that they buzz. You then place your lips against the hole, and blow. If you've never done this before, it will take some time (minutes to hours).
Once you've figured it out, get to a mountain, lake, ocean, sunset, etc. and blow. Listen for the echo :)

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    26 Discussions

    According to CITES, conch are "threatened", bordering on "endangered". It would be unwise, therefore, to buy a harvested conch for this instructable. Stick to using shells collected when already empty (although they are also important as (according to AMNH) "abandoned conch shells provide shelter for hermit crabs, baby groupers, octopuses, and many other creatures").

    11 replies

    Why does sum1 always have to try and b a smartass, the plural of octopus is actually octopodes, this is not a "simple" Latin word, but a latinized Greek word "oktopus", so octopi is not correct.

    Just to be that guy replying to a 5 year old comment: The correct pluralization is varied and there are many examples, but Octopities is by far the most widely accepted and renowned as "correct".

    Trees are homes to birds, and chop them down for paper. Its just the way humans effect the environment.

    Trees used for paper are closer to cows-raised on farms just for harvesting. I would stick to 'recycling' by getting one at a second hand store or garage sale.

    i think i am doing something wrong, i have made my hole, its a tiny bit bigger than the dime but i think it will be ok. the problem is that i think i didnt do the nail thing right, not sure if i took enough off or not. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WFzqIiBdzIw the begging of this video is showing what sound i am getting when i try to use it. im not sure if im blowing wrong or if i didnt make the hole right.

    i used my consh shell horn when i found our castle under attack. it awoke the trees and they walked on the enemy and killed them.

    I was fortunate enough to see Steve Turre play a show once where he played Miles Davis's - All Blues on a set of about 7 conch shells amazing!

    1 reply

    I believe someone put that up on youtube! I was just watching it today, actually. I live in Florida, less than 30 minutes from major Tampa beaches, can I find large conch shells there? Where would a man look? I also live near Tarpon Springs, which happens to be a sponge and shell emporium. How much would a foot long conch run me? Anyone?

    i got a conch from hawaii (i bought it) and i love the sound