By Raymond Levy



Making the Bars

The bar dimensions given in Fig. 1 have been calculated for bars made of red oak. You can use another wood if you like, but you'll have to experiment to determine its sound qualities and the bar dimensions that will give you the proper notes. The bars 011 commercially-made xylophones are frequently made of Brazilian rosewood. I admit that rosewood has a beautiful tone, but it's an expensive and endangered species. so red oak suits me fine.

Select a uniform piece of wood with straight grain for the bars. Rip this piece into a strip roughly the width and thickness of the bars (see Fig. 1) and allow it to settle for a few days so the moisture content will equalize (preferably indoors, where the instrument will be staying). Plane the stock to a V^-in. thickness and cut the bars to the dimensions show n in Fig. 1.

Next, lay out the centers of the screw holes 011 the bars, referring to the table in Fig. 1 for dimensions. I've calculated the positions of the screw holes so they lie at the nodal points of the bars —the points where the least vibration occurs —so you'll get the loudest possible tone from the bars. If you clamp a fence to the drill press table to position the bar's, as shown in the photograph (p. 33), you won't need to scribe a center line down the length of each bar. Drill the hole for the screw and the counterbore for the screw head.

You can increase both the volume and resonance of your instrument if you scoop out the bottom of each bar. reducing the central portion to half its original thickness as shown in Fig. 1. You don't have to do this step, but it gives a much richer sound. It also drops the pitch of the bars one full octave.

Finish up the bars by rounding the edges with a router or by hand. Except for fine tuning, which you'll do later, your bars are complete.


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