Hypotooter -- a Mini-musical Instrument




About: 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 from discarded nylon fishnet and cement.

The hypotooter is a mini-member of the tootophone family of reed instruments.   (See:  https://www.instructables.com/id/pvc-TOOTOPHONE-a-musical-reed-instrument   and also;  https://www.instructables.com/id/Baby-Bass-Tootophone-a-reed-instrument  )

It is made from the protective case for a 12 cc hypodermic syringe, which can be purchased from a pet store or veterinary supply store.  I use the syringes as tools for extruding silicone rubber in making silicone rubber sculptures.  This is a good way to recycle the protective cases. 

The needle cover (pink) is sanded down to make the mouthpiece.  The reed is cut from a piece of scrap plastic that I recovered from a junked flat screen monitor.  Electrical tape holds it all together. 

To protect it in my pocket, I made a carrying case out of PVC pipe.

To hear how the hypotooter sounds, listen to the .mp3 audio file in the last step. 

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Step 1: The Syringe

It's the case we are interested in.  The syringe is not needed for this project.  Syringes make good tools for precise application of lubricating oil.  Without the needles, they can also be used for fine extrusion of silicone rubber.  (The needles are too narrow to force the silicone through.)  If you discard the needle tips, just be careful.  They are very sharp. 

Step 2: Forming the Mouthpiece

Since the tip protector is small and hard to hold while sanding, I set it in the protective syringe body cover and hold it in place with the syringe (without the needle) from inside.  

To sand the curve, use a forward and backward motion, with a little extra wrist action.   Make sure the curve has no flat spots and that both sides are sanded with the same curve.  Once you get the arm and wrist motion down, it becomes almost automatic. 

Use course sandpaper first, then medium, and then fine.  Remove edge burrs with a very sharp X-acto craft knife, or something similarly precise. 

Step 3: The Reed

The reed is just a narrow, rectangular piece of plastic from the trash.  Plastic sheet material comes with myriad variations of stiffness, thickness, and kind of plastic.  I have found that the most responsive material for this hypotooter is the thinnest material I have.  The plastic used in the transparent covers that protect notebook pages is of similar thickness. 

I usually do a whole slew of mouthpieces, with variations of curvature and reed material and then select my favorite out of the bunch. 

I find that cutting the reed right at the end of the mouthpiece, after the reed is taped in place, is better than having it extend beyond the mouthpiece.  Sometimes, I cut it a little shorter, but you don't want it to be so short that it ends on air and not on the plastic of the mouthpiece. 

Step 4: The Carrying Case

One nice thing about the hypotooter is that it is so small and easy to carry.  It fits in a pocket. 

To protect the reed, I cut a piece of 3/4" PVC pipe (appropriate to the diameter of the hypotooter body), and then cut some fingers in it that expand a little and grab the hypotooter. 

I made a special spreading tool for opening up the fingers during manufacture, so I could clean up the cuts with a file and an X-acto knife. 

I drilled a hole in the PVC for hanging it all from a nail. 

Step 5: Playing Tips

Playing the hypotooter is a lot like silent singing -- without using the vocal cords.  There is movement of the adams apple, and the tongue, as in singing, which changes the volume of the mouth and throat.  Pinch down harder with the lips and blow harder for the high notes. 

There are a lot of variables and they all get easier with practice. 

Step 6: Hear the Hypotooter

To hear the hypotooter, click on the thumbnail icon below to open the .mp3 audio file.  It looks like a piece of paper with the corner bent over. 

It sounds remarkably trumpet-like sometimes.  It's great for chasing those high notes. 



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    37 Discussions


    Question 1 year ago on Step 6

    If you cut a small air release hole close to the reed end, could you use the hypo plunger as a slide and have a "trombone"?

    1 answer

    1 year ago

    Wow it sounds great!


    2 years ago

    Pretty cool! At the beginning it sounds kinda like a muted trumpet mixed with a clarinet, and it reminds me of 40's and 50's "big band" music where you hear high-pitched trumpet blasts and clarinet and saxophone solos.

    3 replies

    Reply 2 years ago

    Glad you like it. Every change you make to the body changes the sound, so tooters can create quite a variety of sounds, since you can stick them on all sorts of bodies. I put one on a trombone, and it sounded like a trombone -- except no need to use the trombone slide to make the melody.


    Reply 2 years ago

    Wow! I did not suspect you (or anyone else) would reply! I'm only an amateur and I've never actually created an Instructable myself. Thinking about what you said about how the body changes the sound... I can put a tooter on a bamboo stick! Heck, I could put it on anything (including my new saxophone!) I dont have any syringes as far as I know, but I'll try to make a tooter mouthpiece & reed sometime soon. Well, good luck, and keep making those instructables!


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    If we are talking about the same thing, it is just one of the sounds that the instrument can make.


    6 years ago on Step 6

    thanks,this will help wit a school project"Create A Musical Instrument"


    8 years ago on Step 6

    Cool, it sounds like a cross between a trumpet with a harmon mute, a soprano sax, and a kazoo

    1 reply

    7 years ago on Introduction

    Do you think i could drill tiny holes so you could use fingerings to change notes?

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Search Instructables for my "tiny tootophone" and "sax and trumpet tootophone" instructables. The basic instrument is just the mouthpiece, the "tiny tootophone". You can modify the sound by making any modification to the body of the instrument. Sometimes, near the mouthpiece, I put in a "T", or make a fingering hole to get a one-finger wah-wah effect, but I think more holes would probably not modify the basic sound much. I do that better with just mouth control.

    The better you get at playing it, the less you need your hands at all to pick out just about any melody. The beauty of this instrument is how intuitive it is to play, like singing. There's no fingering that needs to be memorized to play it.


    7 years ago on Step 6

    ah ah oh ah la la la la la


    8 years ago on Introduction

    That sounds great! You need to form a band now. It would be so cool to give each member one of the many instruments you have made and for you all to play together.

    3 replies