Making didgeridoos is really easy, they cost under $5 each and you
don't need to wipe out any eucalyptus trees. All you need are two
things: a pipe and some wax.
Making the mouth piece
Cutting your didgeridoo to the right
of the didgeridoo
Decorating your didgeridoo
Physics of the didgeridoo
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I recommend using PVC vaccuum pipe. This is
the pipe that you use if you have one of those vaccuums that just plug
into the wall with some central sucking unit. It is white, two
inches in diameter, and typically comes in 8 foot lengths.
I strongly recommend using beeswax for the mouth
piece, sucking on a petroleum product for any length of time must be
bad for you. Using beeswax also has the advantage that your mouth
tastes like honey after you have been playing it, and who can resist a
didgeridoo player with lips of honey? Beeswax is relatively
expensive at the craft store, but if you stop by your local apiary you
can usually get it quite cheap.
the mouth piece
The key to making the mouth piece is a few minutes
of patience. If you try to heat up the wax really fast it will
always end in disaster. Just get a bowl of really hot water from
the tap and let a chunk of wax sit in it until it is soft. This
takes a few minutes. When the wax is pliable, mold it around one
end of the pipe and you are done. If you don't get it right the
first time, just hold the waxed end of the didgeridoo under the hot
water tap until it gets soft and try again. Just remember to hold
the waxed end lower than the other or you will spray water all over
didgeridoo to the right size
A fairly standard didgeridoo is about 4 feet long
and plays the C# two octaves below middle C. This would be a good
length for someone's first didgeridoo. If you want to make a
didgeridoo in a different key you can experiment with different
lengths. To figure out how long to make your didgeridoo for a
specific key, you need to understand the physics
didgeridoo. Or you could just check check my didgeridoo chart.
It is pretty easy to burn designs into PVC, and
these look pretty cool. The downside is that this produces toxic
fumes, so make sure you do it in a well ventilated area. I draw
my designs on first with a dry erase marker, and then use a hand held
propane torch to burn them into the PVC.
If you want to add a little colour to the sound of
your didgeridoo you can try to add a flare to the end of the
didgeridoo. It is easiest to do this with a pair of leather
gloves. Heat up the end of the pipe until it is well burned and
soft, then wearing your leather gloves stretch it out into a
flare. The physics of flares is quite complicated, but can end up
raising the pitch of the didgeridoo a little bit.
Another thing that will add a bit of character to
the didgeridoo is to create some imperfections along the pipe.
Girdle the pipe at one point by burning it all the way around quite
thoroughly. Then grab on either side of the pipe and twist/bend
it. Hold it until it hardens.
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