Use a Kit to Make Homemade Instruments

Learn about purchasing a kit to make homemade instruments, with a little elbow grease and perserverance you can build a treasured instrument to hand down from generation to generation.

| April/May 2003

Discover how using a kit to make homemade instruments can become an exciting project for you or the entire family.

Use a Kit to Make Homemade Instruments

If you enjoy handcrafts, you may want to build your own instrument. Several companies make kits and offer good technical support. You don't need to be a master carpenter, but some basic skills and basic tools are necessary. If you don't already have the skills, you might want to ask someone who does to help you build your first instrument.

"The neat thing we see is whole families getting together to build an instrument," says Jerry Brown of Musicmaker's Kits in Stillwater, Minnesota. "It doesn't require so much skill as it does time, motivation and interest. So it really can be a great way for the family to work together. Then, they have something really nice that can stay in the family."

Companies often rank their kits in order of skill level and the number of hours required for the project. A simple hammered dulcimer takes about 10 to 20 hours, a mandolin — one of the more complex projects — can take in excess of 40 hours.

Reputable kit manufacturers have hotlines available for free technical support and also offer replacement parts, often for free, in case you really mess something up.

Kits can range from $85 for a teardrop dulcimer to more than $2,000 for top-of-the-line instruments. Although a handbuilt instrument can cost about half the price of a finished instrument, most kit builders do their projects for the satisfaction of creating something by hand, says Jay Hostetter of Stewart-MacDonald Guitar Shop Supply in Athens, Ohio.

12/26/2007 11:08:47 AM

a great instrument to add to your sound and fun is the cigar box guitar. they are just what they sound like, a guitar made from an old wooden cigar box. they're fairly easy to make and provide a nice early delta blues sound. many famous guitarists got their start playing these including jimi hendrix! i've made two so far, and plan on making more. cigar boxes aren't required for these either, i made one from a box i found at an arts and craft store. for the tuning machines i used some ones i had lying around from an old electric. but you could fairly easily just make tuning pegs like violins use. just do a search on the internet for "cigar box guitar", there's a wealth of information and pictures to get you on your way to being your own local blues star! ;)

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