Traditional Aboriginal didgeridoos are made from trees that have been hollowed out by termites. Finishing work to smooth out surfaces and decorate the didgeridoo would soon follow. Lucky for you, you don't have to spend lots of money or find a hollowed out tree to create a didgeridoo!
This article will help you make a simple didgeridoo out of PVC pipe.
Step 1 Obtain PVC Parts
Parts you will need:
- PVC tube (1.5 inches is a good starting diameter)
- PVC coupling (1.5 inch) and bushing (f/f 1.5 inch to 1 inch)
Most hardware stores (Lowe's, Home Depot, etc.) should carry 12 foot lengths of PVC pipe and appropriate fittings. Some stores may offer custom cut lengths that are priced-by-the-foot or particular lengths (4ft, 6ft, 8ft).
Step 2 Cutting Pipe
One of the first things you may want to do is to cut your PVC pipe. The longer the tube the lower the tone and the shorter the tube the higher the tone. A good starting point for tube length is 6 foot.
Step 3 Assembly
The simplest mouth piece for your didgeridoo will be the combination of the coupling and the bushing. The bushing and coupling will just go together for your mouthpiece. This mouthpiece can then be put on to your PVC tube.
Alternatively, you can use the beeswax to create the mouth piece. Place the bees wax in warm water until it is pliable. Put the beeswax on the end of your tube and shape it until it feels comfortable on your face and you can make a nice seal.
Step 4 Play
At this point you should have a simple playable didgeridoo. If you don't know how to play, there are many great how to videos and articles on how to play. Once the basics are mastered and the beginnings of circular breathing, you can start thinking about tweaks.
Once you have your basic didgeridoo, there are some extra things that you can to to enhance the sound of your didgeridoo.
The first thing that you can do is experiment with the length of your tube. If you made the PVC mouthpiece, experimenting with other lengths of tubing can be done real quick.
If you have a blow torch or some kind of heating gun, you can add features to your tubing.
- PVC tubing and heat sources can create some toxic gas. So wear protective masks and work in well ventilated areas.
Adding a Bell
Adding a bell to your tube will add volume and an altered sound to your didgeridoo.
For adding a bell you will need:
- Heat gun
- Wine Bottle. Something with gradually widening sides like a Riesling Bottle.
The wine bottle should have a gradual widening, something like a Riesling wine bottle. Feel free to experiment with different bottles for different bell shapes.
The water bucket should be wide enough to allow the end of your didgeridoo bell to be inserted easily and have enough water to cover the heated portion of the tube.
Heat up one end of the tube with your heat source. Should take a few minuets of equally distributing the heat around the tube. After a few minuets, put the heated end on the wine bottle until the desired bell shape is obtained on the tube. When desired bell size is obtained, dip the end of the tube into the water to cool it off and lock it in place.
Twists and/or Bends
Twists in the tube will affect the air flow through your tube and will alter the sound that comes out of your didgeridoo. Each twist and turn will create a unique sound out of your didgeridoo.
Pick an area on your tube that is not to close to the ends of your tube. Equally distribute heat on an area until the area becomes pliable. The tube can be tested by giving the tube gently twists or bends in the direction of choosing. The tube will have enough heat when it becomes easy to twist and bend. Be careful to not twist and bend to much because you don't want to get any holes in your didgeridoo. As you get it into a shape that you like, pour some water over heated area to cool and lock it into place.
- If you've made the PVC mouthpiece, try different lengths of tubing or unique assembly of angle couplings and tubing.
- Add several bends and twists to your tube. Each bend and twist will alter the sound of your tube and will be unique to your tube.
- Decorate. If you get your tube to a point where you like it, sand the outside of the tube to get it smooth and remove any text on it. From there you can paint your tube any way you would like. Your paint job can be simple or resemble traditional Aboriginal didgeridoo paint jobs.
- Have Fun.
If you need to learn to play their are loads of videos and tutorials out there to learn the basics of making sounds as well as circular breathing. Hopefully, it serves as starting point for your journey in learning about didgeridoos and other Australian bits of culture.