Playing a musical instrument can bring you hours of fun and entertainment, but you don’t have to spend a fortune to get your hands on a music maker. In fact, you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your own home to play one either!
In my DIY instrument guide below, I show you how to make homemade musical instruments using simple materials you already have in your home like beans, rubber bands, bobby pins, and straws. And the coolest part of all is that these instruments actually sound extremely similar to their real counterparts!
Whether you want to introduce your kids to some homemade instruments as a rainy day activity or start a band with your DIY crafts, you’ve come to the right place. Check out my how-to guide with everything from homemade drums to DIY xylophones, and get ready to make some noise!
15 Unique Homemade Instruments
So if you’re wondering how to make an instrument, follow along to discover 15 homemade instruments with instructions. To help see it all in action, I’ve provided links to handy video tutorials as well.
Interested in making an easy homemade instrument? Start with this shaker. After all, there’s a good chance you already have all these materials lying around the house. This is a simple shaker made out of seeds, rice, beans, or beads placed in a film canister, pill bottle, or small tin box. The shaker can be used alone or with other DIY instruments to create the perfect percussion ensemble!
- 1 canister
- 1 handful of filler material (seeds, rice, beans, or beads)
- Place a handful of the filler material into the canister, cap it, and then Voilá! It’s ready for shaking.
This is one of the easiest homemade instruments to make and only requires a few materials. And the best part? It really does sound like rain! This particular rainmaker has two settings – tin roof and tropical rain forest. Add this DIY rainmaker to your ensemble, or simply enjoy the soothing sounds it makes.
- 2 Pringles cans (or other tube-like canisters)
- 1 handful of filler material (seeds, rice, beans, or beads)
- 12 or moresmall nails
- Duct tape
- Put a handful of filler material into the bottom of a Pringles can.
- Take the secondPringles can, place it open mouth to open mouth with the other, and tape them together.
- Take about twelve million nails (or maybe a dozen) and poke them in one at a time all over the Pringles cans until all of the nails are sticking into the can. The more nails you can poke into the can, the better, as this is what makes the sound.
- Lastly, you’ll need to cover the entire rainmaker with duct tape.
3) Glass Xylophone
Maybe you’ve seen a street performer with this musical arrangement. Well, now you can make a DIY xylophone of your own. The good news is that xylophones are always fun to make, and this is one of two xylophones you’ll see on our list. The other one is made of wrenches, which you’ll see in #14. But this glass xylophone in particular has a beautiful ring to it. As an added bonus – you can drink from it if you’re thirsty!
- 4-8 Glasses
- 1 spoon
- Arrange several glasses (preferably of the same shape and size) in a row.
- Fill the glasses up with differing degrees of water. Start with maybe half an inch, then an inch, then two inches, etc.
- When you get the water in the glasses, start dinging them by tapping the glasses with a spoon, butter knife, or some other solid object.
- Bonus step: If you want to get really technical, get a chromatic tuner and actually measure the amount of water you need for each glass, and tune it up! (Free tuner apps: iPhone | Android)
Don’t get confused by this instrument’s fancy name. It’s actually the proper name for the instrument that most people know as “spoons”—just like the ones you’ll find in your utensil drawer. What’s even better? It’s quite possibly one of the easiest homemade instruments to make on this list! Real castanets are a classic Spanish percussion instrument, and you can come pretty close to mimicking them with spoons.
- Hold the spoons back to back.
- Put your finger in between the handles of the spoons and grip the two handles with the rest of your fingers and thumb.
- All you need to do now is clack the two spoons together to produce a rhythm.
5) Thumb Piano (or Kalimba)
Have you ever heard of a kalimba? A kalimba is a smaller, modern version of a mbira, a Zimbabwe instrument that is more than 1,000 years old. Today, many of us refer to it as a thumb piano. This African instrument is best made with pieces of spring steel and a wooden box. But you can substitute these materials with something easier – a matchbox and some bobby pins. However, this substitution does not resonate as well as the wooden box, so we recommend getting one of those if you can.
- 1 small box (wooden or metal)
- 6-8 Bobby pins or other springy material (like paper clips)
- [Optional] 1 wooden craft stick
- Cut a circle in the top of the box.
- Straighten out several bobby pins and then tape them to the top of the box, leaving the ends of the pins hanging over the hole.
- [Optional] You can use acraft stick to help hold the pins in place.Tapethe craft stick over top of the pins and then tapethat to the box.
- After all the tape is in place, start flicking the pins with your thumbs!
6) Box Harp
A box harp is a pretty cool little invention, and luckily, it’s quite simple to make this unique musical instrument. It can be made a number of different ways, but the way we did it was as easy as looking around the kitchen for parts. The box allows the rubber bands to have a deep resonance in their sound.
- 1 box
- 6-10 rubber bands
- Remove the lid from the box.
- Stretch rubber bands around the open part of the box (or even around the lid itself).
- Pluck the rubber bands and have fun!
7) Box Guitar
Get ready to make a big impression with this neat DIY instrument! The box guitar is a large and powerful homemade instrument that is definitely worth building and experimenting with. Because of its size, you can get some nice resonance out of it. You can even make a more advanced version if you have the extra material.
- Stretch big rubber bands around a shoe box that has a hole cut in the front for sound. Note: If your rubber bands are not long enough, cut them and then tie them to two different craft sticks.
- Stretch the rubber bands with craft sticks (you’ll need a friend to help you with this part) and then tape the sticks to either end of the box. Note: You might want to shove a craft stick under each side of the rubber bands to simulate a bridge and a nut.
- Strum away! If you want to do a more advanced version, glue some wood inside the box to frame it up and make it more stable.
8) Coca-Cola Trumpet
Are you looking for a more advanced instrument to make at home? Give this one a whirl. It is a little tricky, but when done right, it can sound pretty close to a real trumpet! The video below shows a man playing his own Coca-Cola trumpet. Although the video has sub-par quality, you can clearly hear the trumpet playing in action. In order to create the correct trumpet sound, you’ll need to learn how to shape your lips to create a buzzing noise.
- 1 Coke bottle
- 1 box cutter
- Cut the bottom of the Coke bottle off.
- Flip the end around and tape it back onto the trumpet. Note: You have to tape it loosely so that air can emit from around the edges.
- Drill or cut threeholes in the top of the trumpet near the mouth piece (the opening of the bottle). Put your fingers over the holes and then blow (tightly-lipped) with all your might!
9) Simple Drum
No band is complete without a drum, so every DIY instrument list must include one. This unique homemade drum is a straightforward yet super effective handmade instrument. If you don’t have drum sticks lying around, feel free to use wooden spoons or your hands!
- 2-4 rubber bands
- 1 container (bowl or jar)
- 1 plastic bag
- Stretch a plastic bag across the mouth of a large container.
- While holding thebag in place, putrubber bands on until the bag is firmly held.
It’s a flute in your pocket! This one is great because it’s incredibly portable, and you can be a flutist anywhere, any time. And because you don’t need a lot of materials to make these, you can build a bunch at one time for your entire ensemble.
- 1 drinking straw
- Cut the drinking straw near the tip at a slight angle; you’re going to be making a reed, like a bagpipe or oboe reed.
- Cut the other side; simply cut two angles that meet at a point, and then cut the point off leaving a flat spot.
- Put the reed in your mouth and start blowing.Move the straw in and out until you find the sweet spot where it starts to vibrate and produce a sound.
- Bonus: If you want to be really creative, you can poke little holes every inch or so and use them as finger holes to create little melodies!
11) Hand Whistle
Now, this is clearly the most simple to make homemade musical instruments on this list because you don’t need any materials. If you’ve got two hands, you’re already halfway there. All it requires is a little patience and practice, but before you know it, you’ll be whistling like a pro. And if you get really good at it, you can actually play a lot of interesting melodies. Enough practice will eventually lead you to be able to play entire songs!
- 2hands (preferably a left and a right!)
- Cup your hands together leaving a bit of space in the middle.
- Cup one hand over the other, not interlocking the fingers. All of the fingers of one hand go in between the thumb and first finger of the other, and vice versa.
- Press your thumbs together to make a small mouthpiece. You’ll want to have a small gap between the thumbs; you can make this gap by simply bending the thumbs a tiny bit.
- Put your upper lip on the knuckles of yourthumbs and blow down over the hole that is created with both thumbs. Work at it a bit, until a sound is formed. Note: You can change the pitch by changing the size of the hole between your hands.
Alright, this musical craft is a fun one. It’s essentially a Coke bottle with a straw flute acting as the mouthpiece, which plays like an oboe, hence its name: cocoboe. This one can provide hours of entertainment. It takes some time to learn the technique, but once you get it down, you’ll be making sweet cocoboe music in no time!
- 1 straw flute (#10 on the list)
- 1 Coke bottle
- A drill
- Drill several holes in the bottom of a Coke bottle. While you’re at it, go ahead and drill a hole the size of your straw flute in the top. If the hole is a little too big, put some tape around your straw flute until it fits in the hole.
- Start playing your straw flute! You now have a Coke bottle oboe.
- [Optional] If you want to get fancy, you can drill some holes in the Coke bottle and it’ll allow you to change pitches. Smaller Coke bottles work better than the larger 2-liter bottles.
13) Comb Harmonica
This is another simple and portable option. The comb harmonica is one of the most fun homemade musical instruments you can make! Not only is it fun to make, but it’s fun to play, too.
- 1 comb
- 1 piece of thin paper
- Wrap a piece of paper around a comb.
- Put your lips against the paper and make a buzzing noise with your lips. You can hum as well, which changes the sound. A kazoo works pretty much the same way, but with a piece of paper or other material over a pipe.
The wrench xylophone is a bit of magic. The entire thing is made out of wrenches that you can scrounge from an old tool box. Since you’re using high-quality metals, it’ll sound really nice!
- 6-10wrenches of assorted sizes
- 2books or boards of equal size
- Arrange wrenches in order of size from the smallest to the largest on the books. Note: You might need to angle the books (or boards) slightly to accommodate the shorter wrenches.
- Start hitting the wrenches with another wrench or piece of metal,and there you have it!
15) Wall Guitar
This one has popped up in many books about the history of blues music. To master this one, you will need to hammer two nails into your wall. If you can’t do that, consider using a very strong adhesive instead.
- 1 long piece of wire or piano string
- 1 empty glass bottle
- Nail two nails on a wall – one high and the other about three to six feet lower.
- Wind a good amount of wire onto the top nail, then stretch the wire as tight as you can while winding it around the bottom nail.
- Once the wire is tightly bound (or multiple wires if you want to make several of these), you can pluck the wire to make sound. The building that you mount the wire to will actually act as a sound chamber.
- Take the glass bottle and slide it up and down the wire to play a melody. Note: If you have a guitar tuner, you can make markings on the wall where different pitches of the major or minor scale occur.
Regardless of whether you have a musical bone in your body, everyone needs a creative outlet now and again. Build one – or several – of these handmade instruments, and get those creative juices flowing! But if you’re serious about taking your music skills up a notch, turn to our private music lessons here at TakeLessons. From piano lessons to guitar sessions, we offer one-on-one instruction with a private tutor who can help you improve your music skills and achieve your goals. Sign up with us today!
Have you created any other homemade musical instruments? Comment below!
Post Author:Willy M.
Willy M. teaches guitar, ukulele, and mandolin lessons in Winston Salem, NC. He’s been teaching for 20 years, and his students range in age from young children to folks in their 80s.Learn more about Willy here!