Introduction: How to Create a Single Stringed Instrument
1 5x5” piece wood
1 drill (higher power is better)
1 3” hole saw bit
spare wood for jig
c-clamps for jig
1 2 2/8” carbide-tipped hex shank
1 gouge chisel
1 tin can or metal lid
26 gauge wire
2 to 4 small screw eyes
1 thin file
1/4” drill bit
1/4” acrylic rod approx 7-8” long
1 6x6” 1/8” thick plexi
Step 1: Obtain a Block of Wood and Make a Central Hole
In this example a 5x5" piece of wood was used. Mark the center of your block with a pencil and mark off a 3" diameter circle to cut for the hole. Use a hammer and nail to tap a center divot into the wood to act as a guide. Secure your wood to a stable and flat working surface using straight scrap wood and c-clamps. Secure your 3" diameter hole saw bit into your power drill and cut into your wood using your markings as a guide. A steady speed and hand are good to have for this part, being sure not to press so hard as to burn your wood. Once you've made your cut, you will need to remove the remaining wood plug. Using the same center point as your guide, secure a 2 1/8" carbide-tipped hex shank bit into your drill (the higher the power of the drill the better), and cut a hole to a similar depth as the first cut. Then with a gouge chisel and hammer, remove the remaining wood plug. Once the plug is removed, lightly sand the remaining hole with sandpaper (medium grade is fine). This hole is where the resonance will come from within the body of your instrument. Next you will need to obtain a metal lid. You can cut a tin can to the height of your hole and tap holes into it, or use the top of an icing sugar container as seen in this example.
Step 2: Creating a Top & Neck
For the top, use 1/8" plexi approximately 6x6". In this example a square piece of plexi was laser cut into a symmetrical arc design. Next, mark the center point of your top to drill a 1/4" hole. This hole is to fit a 1/4" plexi rod cut to 7" or 8", with a small groove filed into the top. To create the sound of your instrument, you will need 26 gauge wire. On the underside of your top, drill a hole symmetrically placed on 2 sides. 2 small screw eyes will be screwed into these holes, and so the diameter of these holes will need to co-relate with the diameter of the screw eye posts. (For greater stability, you can put screw eyes on the underside of your top on each side if you wish.) Next, wrap your wire around 1 screw eye and string over the neck (fitting into the filed groove) and wrapped around the opposite screw eye.
Step 3: Putting It All Together
Take your top and center it on the body of your instrument. You can keep it in place with tape as you use more of your 26 gauge wire to secure the top to the base. Tie wire from one screw eye to the opposite screw eye, running it tightly under the base in order to secure the top. The tighter the better, as this will affect how your instrument will sound. Repeat again if you used 4 screw eyes, and voila you now have a finished piece. To play your instrument, place your index finger on the top of the neck and thumb on one side of the string to create tension. By varying this tension with your thumb you can create different pitches when you pluck the opposite string with your other hand.