Homegrown Wind Instrument: How to Carve a Homemade Bamboo Flute

Build a homegrown wind instrument. Learn how to carve a homemade bamboo flute, making a bamboo flute does not require expensive materials or tools. Includes step-by-step instructions, flute diagram and flute spacing chart.

| November/December 1982

How to carve a homemade bamboo flute. Fabricating a bamboo tube with holes is an easy way to make a simple homemade wind instrument. (See the bamboo flute diagram and spacing chart in the image gallery.)

Several years ago a friend gave me a bamboo flute . . . and I became so enamored of the little instrument's pleasing tone and appearance that I set out to learn how to make one myself.

Well, it didn't take me long to discover that fabricating a tube with holes that would make noise when I blew into it was fairly easy . . . but crafting an accurately pitched instrument that played true notes was quite another matter. Luckily though, I soon met Craig Rusbult. He showed me the right way to go about the project, and I'd like to share his instructions with you on how to carve a homemade bamboo flute.


Craig explained that the pitch and key of a homemade wind instrument—as well as the accuracy of each of its notes—are determined by the relationships between several variables: the size, shape, and placement of the mouthpiece and finger holes . . . and the length, internal diameter, and thickness of the tube itself.

The first step along the path of successful flutemaking, then, is to choose good-quality bamboo of the desirable dimensions. The tube's inside diameter should be between 3/4 inches and 7/8 inches . . . and Craig adds that thinwalled (about 1/8 inch-thick) specimens produce the best sound. Also, you should try to obtain a section of stalk that's well seasoned (not green) and free of cracks.

To make a flute that plays in the key of A, you'll need a 14 inch length of "pipe" . . . for the key of F, an 18 inch section . . . and for the key of D, a 21 inch piece. Look for bamboo with joints that are just a bit more than half as far apart as the intended length of the instrument . . . so that when you cut the piece to size, it'll have a node at one end and another more or less in the middle. (For example, the ideal bamboo "blank" for a 21 inch key-of-D flute would have about 11 inches of open "tube" between each pair of joints.)

4/13/2010 1:07:24 PM

The article says to look at the diagrams - Figure 2, Figure 3..., but the diagrams don't seem to be included. Is there a way to get those without buying back copies of the magazine? If not, is it possible to remove the references from the article for online use or include an explanation of why they're not there? Thank you!

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