Making my xylophone

Today I worked on my xylophone.

First I gathered the glass bottles I have been collecting.

Then I washed them and peeled the labels off so there is more surface space to be struck and the sound will not be altered.

I worked out that the green bottles hold approximately 350ml of water so to start with I worked out how best to fill the bottles. I decided I would try 50ml increments. So using a funnel I filled the bottles

I then filled the brown bottles and the wine bottles in a similar manner before experimenting with the sounds made. I found that the different sized bottles created different pitches filled with the same amount of water.

I prefer the sounds the green bottles made as there was more of them and it was easier to create patterns and simple melodies with them. If I collected more of the other bottles I could have had three different pitch ranges but have decided to just stick with all the same size and shape. At first I only had six of the green bottles but did some rummaging and found two more.

The finished product. The bottles are filled in increments of 50ml. The lowest pitched bottle is the one on the left which is filled to the very top. The bottles get higher pitched the less water inside. There is a slight difference in tone colour with the lids on and off as well as through striking the glass with various objects

For composition purposes I will label the bottles 1-8 as at this stage the exact pitches are unknown.

Future planning: I could determine the exact pitches of the bottles which would aide composing for the glass bottle xylophone as it could be notated on a traditional stave. I could also add to the number of bottles which would increase the tones available for composition. Another thing I could do is keep collecting more glass bottles and follow the same method to create more pitches. I also could experiment with different ways of displaying my bottles such as creating a frame to hang them from or a holder to sit the bottles on.


Some different ways to make my glass xylophone

Decision Time

After looking for ideas I am going to make a xylophone using glass bottles and water. After seeing the one man band on my weekend away the sound has stuck with me and I would love to experiment with it further. Looking at different sources there are several different ways I could go about creating my instrument. I now need to do some more research to decide on my own method and materials needed.

Internet search

Today I had a look on the internet for some more ideas. I have included the links below for some of the sites I found.

More inspiration

Today I took the kids I was minding to a local playland where I saw these music boards mounted on the wall which I thought were interesting.

This first one is three sets of bells mounted together on a board. The bells on the left are played by holding on to the two red bars with each hand in between the two sets of bells and pulling them up and down. the middle bells are eight different coloured and different toned bells played by hitting them with the two sticks mounted on either side of the bells by string to allow the player to reach all the bells comfortably. The last bells on the left are mounted top and bottom so the player can use their hands to spin the bells around to make them ring.

This is the other board I saw at the playland it is two different xylophones mounted into a shallow box on the wall again with the sticks mounted with string to allow playing.

I like both these ideas especially the first board as it can create a variety of sounds with out having to change instruments.



Today I visited my very small local Library on the off chance they might have something useful for my instrument design and research. I was lucky I found two books that may be of use.

Lots of interesting ideas in this one. It has detailed instructions for a wide range of folk instruments from around the world. It includes ideas from the various instrument families using materials that are easy to find. Some very interesting ideas there is instructions for everything from guitars to zithers, flutes, drums, xylophones and harps.

This one has a few ideas that could work as well. It is aimed at making instruments for children. it also gives interesting information about each of the instruments. There is instructions for a bottle xylophone that looks interesting.


Over the weekend I was away in Sydney and on a street corner i saw a one man band with what looks like a his own homemade instrument. I was unable to get a photo but will try to describe it as best as I can. The musician had a timber frame built with bottles hanging from it with each producing a different tone as he struck them. It didn’t look like there was anything inside the bottles but couldn’t get close enough to see properly. These bottles were used for melodic interest. Underneath his frame he was using what looked like a bass drum pedal against wood for rhythm. I was intrigued as I walked past at the tones coming from the bottles. I would love to maybe incorporate this idea into my own instrument.

Initial Thoughts

Hi everyone I am very excited to research and make my own instrument. I am new to this whole blogging thing but can’t wait to learn as I go. My initial thought is that I think I would like to make some type of percussion instrument but there are so many different options to choose from. I plan to search for inspiration on the internet as well as visit my local Library.