This post is for all the ukelele hipsters and and harmonica hippies out there. Put your toys down and pick up a real instrument! Like a Badgermin, or a Wheel Harp!
Oh, you haven’t heard of those? Well some of the unheard of instruments below can actually be purchased and shipped to your home, so order one now before they become cool.. (again).
The Glass Armonica
This amazing invention was created by Benjamin Franklin in 1761. It was Inspired by the sound made by stroking the lid of a wine glass filled with water. Thirty-seven bowls are arranged on a spindle and slowly spun. The player merely touches the glasses with wet fingertips. With Franklin’s invention, more than two tones could be played at once, producing some hauntingly beautiful chords. In its prime, more than 100 composers wrote for the instrument, including Mozart and Beethoven. The Segment below is from the history channel, and it’s an interesting look into how Ben Franklin came to the idea.
If you’d like one, check out the website of glassblower G. Finkerbeiner, who specializes in glass armonicas
Take a Theremin, an instrument that’s already quite strange, add a little taxidermy to the design, and what do you get? POW! Like magic, you can wave your hands around this stuffed omnivorous creature in an X-Y axis to control pitch and volume of an electronically produced tone. The sound is one that you might hear in an old 70′s sci-fi movie. We’ve checked, but it doesn’t look like this one’s for sale. Go buy a theremin instead.
I’d like to see the guy below do this on a Badgermin.
The Giant Pin-Barrel Harp
Remember those little music boxes you would wind up with a key so it could pluck the same melody over and over until you fell asleep or felt good about life? The Pin-Barrel Harp or “Sharpsichord”, is a humongous version, with programmable pins so you can tell it what to play. It was designed & built by Henry Dagg as a programmable acoustic harp for public use, in honour of Cecil Sharp, thus the name.
The Wheel Harp
It seems people can attach anything to a board of keys. The piano hammers a string, the harpsichord plucks it, not sure what the accordion does, but keys apply there as well. In this unique instrument, a motor turns a wheel with a rosined edge (like a round, spinning bow), and each key moves a different string toward the wheel, thereby bowing the string. Amazing! Its like having a full chamber orchestra at your fingertips! The right pedal controls motor speed (volume), and the left damps the strings. With sixty-one strings, an electronic pickup system for amps and pedals, and a beautiful design, this instrument allows for a truly exciting studio session.
For more info about the wheel harp, check out the website HERE
Price ranges from 9,900 to 11,900 USD.
The PVC Pipe Instrument
There’s a better chance you’ve seen this one played on in the internet, by either youtube user Snubby J, or by the Blue Man Group. It’s a pretty neat idea, and probably not too difficult to build if you’ve got a lot of free time and you work at Home Depo. This instrument is played with small, flexible paddles, used to slap bursts of air through the tubes to get your sound. The shorter the tube, the higher the pitch. Snubby J is quite practiced in the art of PVC pipe slapping, as he’s renamed his PVC creation the “RimbaTubes”. The below video is pretty awesome, as he takes you through thirteen popular songs in less than five minutes. Even Bulk and Skull in the corner seem inspired after a few minutes.
As a producer, I’d be happy to sample the sounds produced by any of the above instruments. Mainly the glass armonica and wheel harp. The badgermin.. not so much. Which would you like to have most? Let us know in the comments below!
And hey.. Just kidding about the harmonicas and ukeleles. Keep doing your thing guys… Just not on any public bench in my hometown.. unless your instrument looks like this:
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