61 Keys Complete!

A wonderful weekend.  On Friday morning we completed C2 and C#2, the massive bass notes for Paul’s marimba. I feel like we may be 1/2 way done at this point, but it is hard to tell… we have never built a marimba :-)  Paul has been tracking our progress, and we have put in about 75 hours so far.  If you look at our Progress-O-Meter you will see that we have finished two important steps:  cutting the blank bars (in red) and rough-shaping the bars to about 1 whole note away from final pitch (in green).  The next step will be to lay out all the bars and mark the “nodes” (see the salt test from a previous post).  We will then average them all and draw two straight lines across each row, indicating where the holes will be drilled for the supporting string. We will final sand the top and sides of each key with 220, 400, and 600 grit paper and apply several layers of rubbed oil for the finish.  The last step for the keys will be final tuning, sanding the arch until the fundamental and harmonics are in (near perfect) pitch.  Wow.  We continue to sketch out ideas for the frame… but that can wait.  Our prime objective is to finish 61 keys (pun intended).

One of our more beautiful keys


Laying out the keys (wrong side up), to get a feel for her final size

What a feeling of accomplishment

If you look carefully at the picture above you can see a couple keys that we will probably have to re-do.  A couple are too short (because of tuning difficulties), and some may not have the right harmonics.  We have a few pieces of wood remaining, and it should not be difficult to fix any mistakes.

The next step will be to drill the holes for the string


When complete, it will be close to 8 feet long…

2 thoughts on “61 Keys Complete!

  1. Hello I am here in Brazil following his work, congrats, I am a musician and lover of this beautiful instrument, I have done a marimba made of glass, ceramic and wood, I have to make another timber because it was very good, I do not have much use of tools, then I’ll make a blog to post my work with marimbas made from scrap and waste, parabens esou anxious to see this project on your youtube.

    • yes the marimba truly is a beautiful instrument :] we looked at your youtube video and your marimba looks great! interesting choice of materials with which to create a mallet instrument. it sounds very good. please post your future work with marimba building on your youtube or comment on this blog when you create a blog of your own. we’d love to see what else you create! this is a source we have learned a lot from and it may help you in the future: http://www.lafavre.us/marimba.htm also, how did you discover this blog?

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