Making your own instruments similar to mine

I have been getting hundreds of emails from people asking me about my instruments, the construction methods, whether they are available for sale, do I have plans available, what are the exact dimensions for the bass thongophone, and so on.


While I would love to help you all personally I simply can’t. I’m just one person running this business and I just can’t keep up with the volume of enquiries.

But I DO want you to be able to make instruments like mine – I strongly encourage you to get into making instruments. It’s easy, it’s cheap and it’s lots of fun!

First, the bad news:

  1. Do I sell the instruments?  No.  I can’t make them for a commercially viable price and they require regular specialist maintenance.
  2. Do I have plans available for making the instruments? No. Most of the instruments I made with no plan more complicated than a simple pencil sketch and an idea in my head of how it might work.
  3. Can you give me the dimensions for making the thongophone/metalophone/banjo/snare drum (or whatever). No – not only do I not have the plans available but the materials I use are very variable.  They may not be available in your country, and even if they are a tiny change in dimensions can make a huge difference to the tuning and tone of the instruments.

Now, the good news:

  1. Making instruments like mine is NOT HARD!  You don’t need to be great with tools or have a fully-equipped workshop.  I’m a wood-butcher and metal-mangler, and my workshop is just an incredibly basic set-up in my carport.  I mainly use simple hand tools and although I do use some power tools none of them are actually necessary – they just save time and effort.
  2. Finding out about how to make home made instruments is easy.  There are excellent books available, there are YouTube videos, and there are some great web sites.
  3. Start simply – don’t leap in to try to copy my metalophones or my bass thongophone.  Start with things like shakers and simple drums and work up.  It won’t be long before you are confidently making sophisticated instruments.

Information sources

Two words: Bart Hopkin.  By far the best books on making homemade instruments are written by Bart. Read my blog post where I review 3 of his books.  90% of what I know about making instruments I learnt from Bart’s books and the books are well written, well illustrated, and very, very easy to follow.

Bash the Trash – this great site is full of information and plans for making junk instruments graded by difficulty.  The rest of the site is equally inspiring.

Make your own wacky instruments by Jon Madin.  I can’t vouch for this book personally, but I’ve seen some of the instruments and them being played and they are great.  Well worth checking out.

Dennis Havlena has a site that’s full of great information but is pretty badly laid out.  His ideas are great, his instruments are amazing but his directions and illustrations are not easy to follow.  However, don’t let that stop you from going there, because he also has links to other great sites.

YouTube – just search “homemade instruments” and “Junk instruments” and you will find lots of stuff.  As usual with YouTube much of it is drivel or repeat posts but there is gold in there too.

My Facebook Page has a photo album and in the comments to the photos there is quite a lot of specific information about how I made particular instruments,

Right here on this site you will find some videos of mine and other people about making instruments.  You can also find the videos on my YouTube channel and you will find additional info about how I made some of the instruments in the comments.


So, again, I apologise that I can’t help you all individually but it’s just not possible – I would spend all my time doing that and have no time for anything else.  But there is NOTHING to stop you from making great instruments like mine – just give it a go!