How to Make a Shakuhachi

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About: recently unemployed, I like to make things just to see if I can,

In this instructable you will learn how to make a shakuhachi, an end blown flute! * (with out the coupling, it's not needed)
materials you will need are:
 21 1/2" piece of 1" sch 40 PVC pipe
a coping saw
a unibit and drill
an xacto knife
tape measure
steel square
100 and 220 sand paper
optional:
spray paint
angle measuring device

Here is a link to a video of how it sounds. Keep in mind that I used a picture camera to shoot the video so the one you make will sound richer. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJ90ipNFKE0
P.S. I had to use a link the embeding thingy didn't work for me.

Step 1: Step 1

make a 2 marks about 1 1/8" wide as indicated by the red arrows and 9/16" in as indicated by the black arrow.
Then draw an ellipise connecting them and cut the section out with the saw.
 

Step 2: Step 2

place the part you just cut flat onto 100 sand paper then with 220 and sand it smooth. After sanding there will be some flashing. Trim
it with an xacto knife but make sure you don't blunt the edge while doing it.
This part is important, you want the edge that you just made sharp. This is the part that makes it sing.
At this point you can measure the angle but it's not necessary.
this particular one is at 30 degrees.

Step 3: Step 3

Now draw a curved line at the bottom, cut and sand like the top part but leave no sharp edges. The curve is meant to fit the part below
your bottom lip comfortably. So the actual shape is not to important other than it should be comfortable.
Once you have removed the flashing and smothed it with sand paper you can try to see if it will make music.
If it doesn't seem to work not to  worry! It takes practice learning how to blow into one of these to make it sing.
It took me two weeks! I'm sure you can do it a lot sooner.

Step 4: Step 4

Now take your strait edge and draw a line down the center. Then mark where your finger holes are going to go.
From the bottom of the flute (the end opposite where your blow) 4 3/4", 6 7/8", 8 7/8", 11 1/8"

Step 5: Step 5

Drill all 4 holes to 1/2" diameter with the unibit and clean the inside out the an xacto knife.
Then sand the outer edges of the holes with 220 sandpaper to make the finger holes comfortable
to your fingers.
ALMOST DONE!

Step 6: Step 6

Now you need to make one more hole on the bottom opposite the four holes on the top.
Measure 12 3/4" from the end of the flute (the end opposite where you blow) . Mark and drill a 1/2" hole. Clean with an xacto
and sand with 220 sandpaper as before.

Now you are done. You can paint it if you like or leave it plain white.
As for removing the lettering on the pipe that depends on the ink that they used which varies.
Somtimes it will come off with solvents somtimes not.

Step 7: Final Step - PLAY!!!

The nicest thing about a shakuhachi is that you don't need to "know" how to play to play it.
First cover all the holes with your fingers.
Next put the apex (pointed by the red arrow) where your lower lip ends.
Then pucker your lips like you would when you blow on an empty bottle
and blow the same way.
Move the flute up and down slightly to get the right position to make it sing.
At first blow steadily and evenly to until you get the hang of it.
Once you get the hang of it you can improvise and make nice music no need to be a pro!

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    28 Discussions

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    ΓιώργοςΣ5

    2 years ago

    Hello from Greece, in step 4, I do not understand the numbers: 4 3/4, 6 7/8 etc. Is the first number the distance in cm? And what are the others? Thank you for your time, all the best.

    George

    1 reply
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    DannyW4Doughboy2000

    Reply 4 months ago

    It is in the flute family, which never have reeds. It's an end-blown flute. The other, that you blow across the cylinder, is called a transverse flute. All of them work by splitting the air stream, half your breath going into the cylinder and half passing over the splitter and going outside the flute. Any rigid hollow thing with a hole can be played this way--an empty glass bottle,a piece of garden hose, even the bottom half of a disassembled pen.

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    JakubF12

    Question 10 months ago on Step 7

    So i have some problem, i made it form bamboo and i follow the instruction, but i cant play. Can you give me some tips and tricks for it?

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    ΓιώργοςΣ5

    2 years ago

    Me again, few days ago I made an experiment with a piece of local baboo. I open six holes and I place on the top a mouthpiece from my tenor sax. I had some nice sound but only from the three of them.

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    tanglevinesickfreak

    Reply 3 years ago on Step 7

    There are many tutorials on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=how+to+play+a+shakuhachi

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    ilpug

    6 years ago on Introduction

    Made it! Now I just kinda suck at playing it. Can I blunt the edge slightly to make it easier to play?

    2 replies
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    jtx86ilpug

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Blunting the edge makes it more difficult to find sound.

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    rogerhyam

    5 years ago on Step 7

    It works! I just made one out of some 3/4" pipe I had around and I can play it. I did nearly pass out though. Too much huff is needed. I also think I made the back angle too steep. I'll have another go with some thicker pipe another time.

    I believe to be a real Zen Shakuhachi player I will have to stand outside with a basket on my head and play it. Maybe when I have practiced a bit.

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    ilpug

    7 years ago on Introduction

    I will make one as soon as possible! I have always wanted one of these, but I never had any bamboo. I never even thought of PVC!

    1 reply
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    ericocean

    7 years ago on Introduction

    I very much enjoyed the no-nonsense approach of your project. Well done.

    Skyfinity first introduced me (for which gratitude) to the shakuhashi. I made his transverse bamboo flute while I was working in Morocco and had time on my hands. Now I am on a project in Sudan with time and a piece of pvc pipe. I found an incredible wealth of information on the following site: http://www.navaching.com/

    One remark. The statement you make concerning the necessity of a sharp edge is incorrect. An airstream blown against any edge, sharp or blunt, creates turbulence. A small part of this turbulence is amplified and channeled through the tube, creating harmonics or the sound you want to hear. The shakuhashi with a blunt edge is more forgiving to play for a beginner and a sharp edge lends itself to more pitch bending.

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    ericocean

    7 years ago on Introduction

    I very much enjoyed the no-nonsense approach of your project. Well done.

    Skyfinity first introduced me (for which gratitude) to the shakuhashi. I made his transverse bamboo flute while I was working in Morocco and had time on my hands. Now I am on a project in Sudan with time and a piece of pvc pipe. I found an incredible wealth of information on the following site: http://www.navaching.com/

    One remark. The statement you make concerning the necessity of a sharp edge is incorrect. An airstream blown against any edge, sharp or blunt, creates turbulence. A small part of this turbulence is amplified and channeled through the tube, creating harmonics or the sound you want to hear. The shakuhashi with a blunt edge is more forgiving to play for a beginner and a sharp edge lends itself to more pitch bending.

    I bet your right..My brother used to have something called a "Potato pipe". I really was intrigued by it. Never have seen one since.