The Essential Guide To DIY Instrument Building

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We scoured some of the best DIY instrument building projects from around the internet and compiled them into this useful guide to make your weekend more musical—or at least, very weird.

You don’t need to feel that your craftsmanship or ingenuity has been lost in the era of mass digitlization. Maybe being stuck at an office all week, mashing at the keyboard and slowly being crushed into multi-tab inertia has you yearning for something less virtual on the weekend. Maybe you want to use those hands for something other than clicking (and getting them clicks!). Maybe that Buchla 200e or Jupiter-8 is still out of your price range and you want to nurture that practical side on something useful. And the best thing is that you won’t need to spend too much time in a hardware store: whether you’ve got old bike parts or watermelons lying around the house, there’s an instrument waiting to unleash in the list below.

An analog synthesizer made of cigarettes and ashtrays.

Christian Losert and Paul Schengber’s Ziggybox is a DIY project that generates sounds based on the position of cigarettes placed in ashtrays or by opening the cigarette packs.

A watermelon-controlled synth.

This video shows how to build an oscillator yourself with a bunch of cheap materials, like a breadboard and a watermelon.

A synthesizer out of garbage.

Why waste your pizza money like a sucker when you could be making a synthesizer for free out of trash and crud you find on the ground?

Turn your old AM radios into a theremin.

A DIY project by Japanese artists Tomoya Yamamoto and Yuri Suzuki claims to turn three kitchen AM radios into a theremin. Check out how to do that here.

A cybernetic slime mold that makes algorithmic music.

It doesn’t get more DIY than this.

For similar projects, check out The Ultimate Browser Based Music Production Guide.

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