Polyvinyl Chloride, or PVC , is one of the most widely produced plastics in the world, and is most commonly used to make the PVC pipe. PVC pipes are durable, long-lasting and are often used in water systems and underground piping because they do not rust over long periods of time. Interestingly enough, PVC pipes can also serve as extraordinary musical instruments.
The concept of using PVC pipes as musical instruments was introduced to mainstream audiences by the widely popular Blue Man Group, during the 1990’s. The Blue Man Group is an organization that produces theatrical shows around the world staring three players who appear to have blue skin, and who perform while using an assortment of unusual PVC pipe instruments. As a result of the Blue Man Group’s popularity, PVC instruments have received vast amounts of attention, and do-it-yourself PVC instrument building is now a popular trend in many different countries.
There are a number of instruments that can be built using PVC pipes, including drums, pitched percussion instruments, wind instruments, and string instruments. The following is a resource guide providing information on these types of PVC instruments and instructions for building your own PVC instrument.
Parade Drum Set: Easy step-by-step instructions for making a drum set using PVC pipes and basic around-the-house materials. This drum set is small, easy to carry, and ideal for playing in a parade.
PVC Taiko Drum: Step-by-step instructions for constructing a PVC taiko drum, which is made with a large PVC pipe 16″-20″ in diameter.
PVC Pipe Drum: Instructions to build a PVC pipe drum using a simple step-by-step process.
PVC Drums: Photos of home-made PVC drums.
Multiphonic Bass Clarinet: Detailed description of constructing a multiphonic bass clarinet instrument out of PVC pipes.
PVC Flute: Step-by-step instructions to make a PVC flute.
PVC Saxophone: Description of a PVC saxophone.
Home-made Wind Instruments: Photos of student-made wind instruments, including a PVC flute.
How to Make Pan Pipes: Simple instructions for constructing a basic PVC pan pipe.
The Science Behind Pan Pipes: Information on wavelength, frequency, and how wind instruments produce sound through vibration. Instructions for making a simple PVC pan pipe. (.pdf document)
PVC Percussion Instruments
The WHAP!-a-phone: A homemade instrument using PVC pipes.
PVC Percussion Instruments: Descriptions and photos of various PVC percussion instruments.
The Drombone: A complete analysis of the Drombone and how it works. (.doc document)
Home-made Tubulum: Photos of a home-made PVC percussion instrument: the tubulum.
Drombone, Tubulum, PVC Instruments: Home-made PVC instruments.
PVC String Instruments
PVC Cello: Step-by-step instructions for making your own PVC cello.
Other Homemade Instruments
Homemade Instruments: Easy homemade instruments and step-by-step instructions. (.pdf document)
Wind chimes: Make your own wind chimes.
Building a Marimba: Constructing your own marimba.
Blue Man Group
Blue Man Group PVC Instruments: Complete list and descriptions of PVC and other
instruments used in the Blue Man Group.
Airpoles: Description of airpoles and how they are used in the Blue Man Group.
Blue Man Group Instruments: Descriptions of all Blue Man Group Instruments.
Blue Man Group Album Review (2000): Description of Blue Man Group and the unique
sounds of PVC instruments.
Building PVC Instruments: Guide to creating your own PVC instrument.
Cutting PVC Pipes: Site with specialty PVC pipe saws.
Blue Man Group Children’s Exhibit: Boston Children’s Museum exhibit featuring PVC instruments.