New to Music Instruments

Re: New to Music Instruments

Postby Caley Hand » Thu Jul 05, 2018 4:37 pm

Steve, Thanks so much for looking for these things. I also found these, and the price shocked me, $3 per bolt. I've decided to try another way using square grounding strips that have 7 holes in them. This allows me to put a complete row of C-D-E-F-G-A-B at once. I just have to splay them a bit to give some separation Caley Ann
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Re: New to Music Instruments

Postby Steve Sawyer » Thu Jul 05, 2018 4:49 pm

There are other sources, including Ali Express that may be cheaper. Search for M5 Eyebolts, and select images only in your resluts. Click-through to the source for the ones that look like the ones you want. Also, if you can find them in plain plated steel instead of stainless, they'll be considerably cheaper if not quite as pretty.
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Re: New to Music Instruments

Postby Caley Hand » Thu Jul 05, 2018 4:57 pm

Steve, Already ordered those square grounding terminals. They work something like the purpose made framework used by "Kalimba Magic" for their flat tines. I would rather have flat tines, but I already purchased a new replacement roll of 1/8x.062 fishing tape.

Right now I am playing with them using a wingnut bolt through a washer into wood to hold down the tine, while I pluck it to see what sound it makes. I think the wide fender washer is causing changes to the sound that the shorter hold downs like the square terminal posts would not cause. I am still trying to learn about the piano notes scale. Been downloading a lot of diagrams with information like frequencies, key designations, so that maybe I can get these tines tuned properly. Also learning about sharps and flats, and normal type notes, as aparently these Kalimbas use those. Caley Ann
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Re: New to Music Instruments

Postby Caley Hand » Mon Jul 09, 2018 10:07 pm

So far I have not found a reference to how long each tine for a Kalimba should be. I know that probably depends on the material, and its size used.

I am using narrow electrician's fishing tape that is .062 thick; pretty hefty stuff.

I have been using a tone meter with external mike to measure things, and found that anything over 4 5/8 inches just makes a thunk. But, from these tines that are that length or under, I have gotten every basic note C, D, E, F G, A and B. While I have not modified these tines to hit these notes exactly, they are within the range.

What I would like to know is whether these notes are considered different if they are above or below the center (normal) note. Some are just below or just above the center mark, while others are almost off either end, but still registering as that note. Don't know if I am making sense. I have not found anything that gives me any guidance on creating a 61 note Kalimba. That has both the black and while keys on a piano.

I wanted to use frequencies to tune these tines, but I found the frequencies for the most part, fall well outside of the tuning meter abilities, and sensitivity.

Anyone have suggestions on how to come up with each key grouping. The only thing I can think of is to create a set of tines (white keys), and adjust them so they all fall in the center reading on the meter. Then create another seven tines that fall a certain way below that center mark, and the same for above that center mark. And I keep doing the same for each set, just matching where the tone hits on the meter.

Needless to say, I really do not know what I am doing. I never studied music, and in particular the physics of instruments. Apparently there is a lot of math in this area, and that is an area where I absolutely do not do well in.
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Re: New to Music Instruments

Postby Charlie Schultz » Tue Jul 10, 2018 10:32 am

Our library has a good amount of info on kalimbas: http://www.mimf.com/ksearch/ksearch.cgi ... y=50&all=1
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Re: New to Music Instruments

Postby Jim McConkey » Wed Jul 11, 2018 12:48 am

You are correct that different materials will tune a little differently. In the video you originally referenced, his longest tine is about 5" (13 cm), based on the size of his hand. That is just a little longer than you found was the lowest practical pitch, probably because he is using rods and not tape.

The pitch of each note is adjusted by changing the free vibrating length of the tine past the fret. Making the tine longer lowers the pitch, and making it shorter raises the pitch. If your tuner shows a note as somewhat below or to the left of center, then the pitch is too low, and you need to shorten the tine to raise the pitch. If the tuner shows high or right of center, you need to lengthen the tine to lower the pitch. You want to aim for each note being exactly on or very close to the center line on your tuner. As a rule of thumb, whatever your lowest note is, the note exactly one octave above it (12 tines) should be almost exactly half the length. The note 2 octaves up (24 tines) would be 1/2 of that, or 1/4 the length of the lowest note. While it is possible to calculate all this, just pick a note to start with and get its pitch centered on your tuner. Then make the next tine up a little shorter and tune to the next note up, and the previous tine a little longer and tune to the next note down.

As for grouping, if you are building a chromatic instrument, then try to mimic a piano, with the "black key notes" raised slightly. The design in the video does just this. Each of his blocks covers one octave, and he has 5 octaves on the finished instrument. You can see for each octave that the shortest note is about half the length of the longest note.
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Re: New to Music Instruments

Postby Caley Hand » Wed Jul 11, 2018 11:45 am

Jim, I really appreciate taking the time to explain this. I am still muddling through webpages that explain this, but some who try explaining, make it almost impossible to understand. They throw in too much technical jargon, which I am not familiar with. Guess, if you ever were a music student, then you would have an understanding.

I would love to to a chromatic version, but I am beginning to see that I probably should start with something a bit easier. I found a diagram with all the notes printed on each tine. It has 34 tines, and says something about circle of fifths. Not sure this is any easier to learn to play. I still have lots of difficulty on my piano due to my severely arthritic right hand. But I have always loved music, and just want to create some, even if it is terrible. Caley Ann
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Re: New to Music Instruments

Postby Jim McConkey » Thu Jul 12, 2018 12:58 am

The only real difference between a chromatic and not-completely-chromatic version is the number of tines. Build whichever version you want. Once you learn to build and tune one tine, you know how to build all the rest.
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Re: New to Music Instruments

Postby Caley Hand » Sun Jul 15, 2018 9:29 pm

I was so proud of what my work looked like, but once I saw this picture, I just drooped. It is really ugly in the picture. Guess a camera picks out every imperfection. Never was very good at wood work, but thought this was pretty good. Sigh!!!

Now all I have to do is cut the tines to the necessary lengths to get 34 of them to match the varying notes needed. Caley Ann
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Re: New to Music Instruments

Postby Caley Hand » Sun Jul 15, 2018 11:33 pm

Seems what work I did to figure out what some of my tine notes were, was a waste of time. I found the three all had exactly the same note, Bb. I had tested these on what I thought would be OK, a solid test block. Now I know that there is a definite difference in resonance between a hollow sounding board and a solid one.

I had cut sixteen tines, and now have them tagged with the note I hope they will end up being. I cut them to 1/4 inch difference, but I am not seeing that a difference of just 1/8 inch can take it to the next note, at least on my sound board. And in one case, two tines were only 1/16 difference, and one was a C and the other a C#.

I just did a quick check, making surwe all the notes were at center, or on the high side. I found I could not adjust anything on the low side because I would have had to lengthen the tine, impossible.

I've got a lot more experimenting to do in order to learn just how much difference the tine length makes. I also found that filing the underside of a tine, just a head of the front bridge, can bring a note that is on the positive side, down to center on the meter scale. It's really tedious filing, then testing, then filing again, until the tine hits the note you want.

I also found out that the long tines that went thunk on my solid testing board, resonate nicely on my hollow instrument board.

Gee! This is so much fun. Caley Ann
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Re: New to Music Instruments

Postby Karl Wicklund » Mon Jul 16, 2018 10:48 am

I’m enjoying following your progress through this. Keep it up!
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Re: New to Music Instruments

Postby Jim McConkey » Mon Jul 16, 2018 3:24 pm

Caley, without getting into the math, from the bass end each tine should be 0.9438743 times the length of its lower neighbor (assuming a chromatic instrument). For example, assuming your bass note is 100 mm (about 4"), the lengths going up should be 100.00, 94.39, 89.09, 84.09, 79.37, 74.91, etc. The note one octave (12 half steps) up should be exactly half the length of the note an octave below. This means the bass notes will be more drastically different in length than the treble notes. The lowest two tines of this hypothetical scale starting with 100 mm would be 6 mm or 1/4" different in length, but the treble notes will be a lot less different. Two octaves up from the bass the notes would only be about 1/16" different.

Another way of looking at it is that the first octave will have tines that range from 100 mm to 50 mm, the second octave would be 50 mm to 25 mm, the third octave would be from 25 to 12.5 mm, the fourth octave from 12.5 to 6.25 mm, etc.

Hopefully that will give you a better idea of what lengths your notes should look like.
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Re: New to Music Instruments

Postby Caley Hand » Mon Jul 16, 2018 4:15 pm

Jim, Yes, it definitely gives me something to work with, though I am not sure that it will apply with these thick tines. They are 1/8 inch wide by ,062 thick; pretty hefty.

I've run into what I think is another problem, and that is crossover of a tone through the continuous front bridge. When I just have one or two tines screwed down, the notes are good, but once I stuff more than the two, I start getting really odd notes coming from the tines I know I had down pat. I think that is the reason why the gentleman in the video, who did the Chromatic Kalimba build, isolated each tine. And I have the feeling that I will have to do the same. This means tearing everything apart above the sound box, and reengineering it. It also means I will have to invest in those eyebolts, which are truly expensive.

At least I am learning as I go along, even if it may be costing me money. Guess that is why the major Kalimba and MBira makers have such sweet sounding instruments. They more than likely had a music background to start with. Then they put that, along with trial and error to produce their instruments.

I just do not want to buy something I know I can build. It will just take time and experimentation. Caley Ann
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Re: New to Music Instruments

Postby Caley Hand » Sun Aug 05, 2018 6:22 pm

I've finally gotten a few items to continue on this build. The problem is that I got part of one item, and part of another from the vendors in China. Seems they shipped things at different times, even though I ordered them at the same time.

I am definitely not very good at wood work stuff. I created the bridges today with my table saw, router tabe, and drill press, none of which are very high quality. Well, I am not very high quality either, so we'vwe got a match. Anyway, I decided to keep a weak pressure on the wood going through the router, and the wood decided to jump, and allow my left middle finger to replace it. Thank goodness the nail was the first to contact the bit, and my quick reactions allowed me to only lose part of that nail, and a couple small pieced of flesh. I will have to concentrate on just how I am holding things to prevent this happening again.

The picture shows the little bridges. Since my sound box is about half the size of the one in the video, I am only able barely fit three octaves for a Chromatic Kalimba. I guess that is OK, as it is my first ever fully built instrument.

The board you see the bridges setting on will actually be raised by two 3/4x3/4 supports going front and rear. This allows me to have room for the eye bolts nuts and washers sticking below.

I palyed with a tine yesterday trying to figure out why everything sounds like it is going thunk. I used my frequency meter, andf also used a tiny amplifier with pickup mic to help me hear and do things. Well, it seems my hearing is very poor, andf I could not pick up what the P/U mic was hearing. What sounded like a thunk to me, actually had a ring to it. I guess this means I need to trust the frequency meter when tuning the tines, as everything my ears hear definitely does not portray what is actually happening.

Still waiting on washers, nuts and the other eye bolts, but things are coming together, though slowly. CaleyAnn
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3 Octave Kalimba.jpg
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Re: New to Music Instruments

Postby Caley Hand » Thu Aug 09, 2018 12:22 am

I finally got the 5mm eye bolts. Seems they are still in the international post office receiving center according to online tracking. Guess someone sent it without inputing the tracking number.

I tested them out, discovering that they do not quite meet the specs noted on the sales page. They are short by a couple millimeters. So I will have to cut a channel on the bottom side of the mounting board to compensate for their shortness

Since I ran into difficulties with my Zither project, I decided to come back to this, since I received the bolts. I got eight of my first octave of tines done. I am still wondering if they will be OK, even though I am tuning them on a separate tuning board. I'm using the same bridge setup, but the board is solid for the tuning process, and the Kalimba will be hollow.

I did find that all those tines I cut of various lengths, mostly 1/8 inch increments are working fine. All I do is use my Dremel with grinding stone to cut a shallow indentation in the underside of the tine. The process takes about three or four rounds with the grinding stone before I get the note I am looking for as close to centered on the meter as I can manage. The are not perfect, but they are so close that fiddling with grinding them would send them on the south side of the center line on the meter.

Just glad all the parts are in, finally, and I can work on something indoors, while we go through our summer heatwave. Was 110F, with higher than normal humidity today. Definately not something you want to be working in outdoors. CaleyAnn
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Re: New to Music Instruments

Postby Caley Hand » Thu Aug 09, 2018 9:56 pm

I did a little more experimenting with the tines. The size are basically 1/8 inch by .062 inch. So these are pretty chunky ones, and that is why I have had so much difficulty.

My experimenting has given me what I hope is the formula for the length. Just cutting them to the charts I have seen online does not do it. What I found is that each note is seperated by 4 millimeters, at least when it comes to those tines that are between 110 and 130 millimeters. As the tine length get longer, that amount (4mm) may be reduced some.

Also, based on my experimenting, the black key (tine) lengths are about halfway in between each of the white key tine lengths. I only discovered all of this, as I spent the time cutting tines every two millimeters

I then tried tuning them to the note closest, and for the most part, each tine ended up on the high side for each note, making me use my Dremel to remove some metal on the back of the tine about 50mm from the ends. Once I got close, I used a curved file to slowly cut away the metal until I hit the note.

Maybe tomorrow I can cut the next octave set which will be more than likely in the 130-150mm length range. Then I need to go back and cut the first octave set, as the first ones are of varying lengths, and basically do not match. I need to get that 4 or so millimeter spacing so that they flow properly from longer to shorter without having some stick out..

So much fun, and it doesn't guarantee that the tines will actually sound right to the ear. They just sound right to the sound meter.. :-) CaleyAnn
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Re: New to Music Instruments

Postby Caley Hand » Fri Aug 10, 2018 5:32 pm

I took a day off from building or refurbishing my two instruments, and made a road trip to Homely Despotty. I discovaered they had a four foot long 2 inch diameter dowel rod. The reason for wanting this item is that the 1.25 inch diameter dowel rod I used to make my spool clamps were just too small. If I had had a 1 1/2 inch dowel I probably would have been happy, but the small diameter made it nearly impossible to clamp my Zither, or the sound box of my Kalimba.

And this dowel is really made of some kind of hardwood, not the cheap wood that seems to make up the dowels of smaller diameter. The only drawback was that part of this dowel actually had a knot, and a couple of void cracks within the wood that did not show up on the outside, other than the area was made up of a darker colour. That will teach me to look for colour differences from now on.

So I spent the day cutting them to 7/8 inch thickness, and then spending about and hour cleaning up the mess the cutting created. I then used a 3/8 inch forstner bit to cut a 3/16 deep pocket that the square part under the head of the bolt can fit it. I saw one guy on a video say he would be back after he pounded those square parts into his wood pieces. I did not like that, as I figure about half of the wood pieces would probably break. Drilling a pocket is much nicer And what is nice is the forstner bit has that long point, so it leaves a little indentation to let the drill bit get started. Once the drilling was all done, I spent a few more minutes cleaning up any spots that might have had splinters created by any of the cutting.

Instead of using cork to cushion the part where the spool clamps meet the wood surface of the instument, I decided to use thick felt. All I need to do is cut squares out of the felt, spray the felt lightly with what I found as a subsitute for 3M77, Gorilla Glue version of it, and then stick it on the spool clamp wood faces. Then I just use my new scissors to trim. I'll have to go back and drill out the felt covering the hole though, but that's no big deal.

Not only do I have more gripping area now, but the lessening of the thickness by 1/8 inch has allowed me to be able to clamp 4 inch thick items that needs clamps. I'll post a picture whenever I get the felt on.

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Re: New to Music Instruments

Postby Caley Hand » Sat Aug 11, 2018 6:36 am

Boy, betting old is a drag. Sleep is getting more and more difficult, so I got things done. Here is the picture. I tested it on the side of my Zither, and it worked really well. Before the little ones were wanting to slip off because they just did not have the gripping area. The felt also works nice. CaleyAnn
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Spool Clamp2.JPG
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Re: New to Music Instruments

Postby Caley Hand » Sun Aug 12, 2018 7:16 pm

I am totally floored today. I decided to mount my bridge blocks on my Chromatic Kalomba, and install one set of tines, not knowing what would happen. I set them into the second octave area, and then plucked them. I was shocked at how much the whole setup rosonated. It actually sounded pretty good. Only problem is that this particular set of tines needs to be on my first octave section of the board. To stop confustion, I just built something that contains three octaves. And I created these tines by trial and error. So this particular groupling of tines does not correspond with those actual groupings on a piano. I am guessing that this set might be number two or three on a piano, as they were deep and mellow sounding. And my cutting and tuning are not quite perfect. Even my poor ears could tell I was just a tad off here and there.

Sorry, but I do not have a way of creating a sound file, or it might actually be that I just do not know how to do it just with a computer. Just tried to use my computer microphone, and all I got was a lot of feedback. Tried to adjust things, but it looks like I haven't got a clue as to how that is done. CaleyAnn
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Re: New to Music Instruments

Postby Caley Hand » Mon Aug 13, 2018 3:35 pm

Hi All, I made six more tines of the much longer length this morning to see just how they would sound. They are the lower c thru g notes. Weeeelllll! The results are not very good. Seems there are diminishing returns on tines that get too long or too short But, with all this experimenting, I have found the maximum and minimum length of the tines that will work with my sound box.

It looks like my idea of creating a Chromatic Kalimba is on hold until I build a much larger one with a better sound box.

So, my idea is to keep all the tines within the length parameters I have discovered, and not worry about notes. I am going to just cut them to lengths that are about 2mm difference, with the upper keys filling in between those notes, whatever they end up being. I am looking for something mellow sounding, and the tines I created the other day fit the bill, and will be even better with the extensions on each end.

Exactly what do you call an instrument that really does not have defined notes, but is progressive from low to high (left to right)? It will probably make playing any kind of musical piece nearly impossible. I guess the only way I will know about what each tine is, is to colour code the ones that hit a particular not exactly

I did, finally make a sound file, but I find there is no way to upload to this forum. And the recording is pretty poor, just giving a general idea of what the sound is like.

Here's a picture of the instrument with some of the lower experimental tines in place. CaleyAnn
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Experimental Tines.jpg
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