Friday, November 9, 2012

Bell Bottom Glass Didgeridoo
It was about 8 months since my last entry, I was quite busy then and now I’m back with some fresh articles especially to those didgeridoo enthusiasts out there. In my absence I manage to fabricate a glass didgeridoo with a little improvement than the one I made earlier. It is known as Bell Bottom Didgeridoo.

Didgeridoo Bell bottom are didgeridoos where the lower part of the didgeridoo is very much wider than the size of the whole length of the stick.  It is basically a didgeridoo with an added sound box. The main advantage of a Bell Bottom Didgeridoo is the amplification it generates, allowing you to produce more voluminous sound with less effort. Bass notes and lower tones particularly benefit from this, and playing techniques using voices and roars come out stronger.
Bell Bottom Glass Didgeridoo

In fabricating a bell bottom glass didgeridoo, the bottom end of the tube is heated up in a big and vigorous flame, when the glass has soften, the tube should be slightly pushed inwards and this will make the glass become thicker. The next process is flaring the thicker end of the tube. While still in the flame, a carbon rod is applied to the softening glass and by slowly lifting up the rod against the wall of the glass, a flare will then emerged. The glass becomes thinner while flaring is being formed. This is reason why the glass should be thickened before the flaring process. This technique is also being applied in the making of the base of flower vases and wine glasses.  The glass tube has to be rotated while flaming and flaring to maintain an even heating around the tube and will produce an even and well made flare. The flaring technique will produce a didgeridoo with a wider end and may look like a trumpet. Another technique is by sealing the end of the tube (to prevent air from escaping out) and when the glass has soften, blow at the other end of the tube until it swells up and becomes a big bulb. A hole is then made by flaming the tip of the bulb until the glass becomes really soft and a hard blow will make the glass to balloon and shattered out. Again, by using a carbon rod, flare is then made.  Easy ha.    

Fabrication of glass didgeridoo is not an easy thing to do. You need to have some knowledge and skill in glassblowing. I don’t have much difficulty in fabricating the didgeridoo because I had the opportunity to learn glassblowing from master glassblowers at University of Ghent, Belgium somewhere in the late 70’s.  To the master glassblowers, Rene, Hector, Etienne, Freddie and Jan, I thank you all.  

Saturday, March 17, 2012


A PVC didgeridoo is the simplest and the cheapest didgeridoo that can be made easily in your backyard.  Take a visit at your local hardware store and there you will find plenty of PVC tubes in various sizes and colors.  For making PVC didgeridoo, a tube with the diameter of 38mm and length of 182.9cm (6 feet) is a good size to start with. I have done on a bigger diameter tube but you will need big amount of beeswax for the mouthpiece. The length of the tube will determine the pitch of the didgeridoo. The overall length (plus the mouthpiece) of about 132.08 cm (52”) will tune at C. At 41.609” (105.687cm) the tune will be at E.  The tube can be cut shorter (a bit at a time) until you get the tune correct. I tuned the tube with a digital tuner and that makes the job much easier. Don’t worry about the tune at this moment, get on practicing the drone and enjoy the sound. 
The store man will help you in cutting the length you’ve chosen. All you need to carry back other than the tube is a few pieces of coarse and fine sand papers, one or two cans of spray paint of different colors and that’s it. The cut edges may  be trimmed by scraping the ends of the tube using a kitchen knife (penknife) and then further smoothing can be done by using sand papers. The blowing end of the tube is made by fixing an adapter joint (some called it bushing or fitting) as the mouthpiece. I would still prefer and recommend you to fix beeswax as the mouthpiece. I would assume that a didgeridoo without beeswax is not really a didgeridoo yet. Beeswax is not always available when you need it, PVC joint (fitting) is the best choice. At present, the price of beeswax in Kuala Lumpur is around RM60 – RM80/kg. Beeswax from local honey bees farm can be easily distinguished by the light brown color of the wax. Imported wax is darker. 
A kind of glue is used to securely fix a PVC tube to another. The PVC glue produces a very strong smell and I would suggest you to look for a suitable joint size so that the joint can be fixed to the tube without using any glue. A PVC joint is made with rounded smooth edges and it won’t hurt your lips and that is one of the functions of the mouthpiece
When the mouthpiece had been fixed, the tube is ready to be blown. A plain tube will look better if you take some effort to paint it. The smooth surface of the tube should be sand papered for the paint to   stick nicely and permanently. You are free to express your heart out on the painting. Let the painting to dry naturally. The next step is to apply a coat of ‘clear spray’. This will give a shine on the didgeridoo and will look more attractive. 
A properly made PVC didgeridoo will produce a beautiful sound and it will be difficult to differentiate from an expensive didgeridoo, this will all depend on your blowing skill too. 
If I were to make a PVC didgeridoo, I would prefer my didgeridoo to have a slight bent at the end of the tube. It will look nicer if compared to a plain straight tube.  For bending the tube you will need a hot blower or you can just heat it over a naked flame. I don’t prefer bending over the flame because PVC will get burn marks and leaving an ugly appearance on the tube.  When hot blower is used, heat alongside the end of the tube. When the tube softens, bent a little bit and then stop. Let the tube harden, then heat at a place slightly away from the bent that had been made earlier. The same step continues until desired bent is archived. Excessive bending will make the tube to sag at one side.  Another method of getting a good bending is to fill up the tube with sand. When bending is being done, the sand will prevent the tube to collapse during bending and maintaining an even internal diameter of the tube.  So, that’s it.  
As you noticed in the photos, my newly made PVC didgeridoo is fitted with a rubber cone at the end of the tube. This is what they called a bell didgeridoo. A real bell didgeridoo is made from a tree trunk by maintaining the base of the tree and it may not look beautiful but the sound is wonderful. The guy who is blowing the tube is a didgeridoo player from Selangor (a state in Malaysia) named Mirol. He was accompanied by a mini djembe drummer. The harmonic sound derived from the fusion of didgeridoo and djembe drum is so melodious and uncontrollably your feet start tapping as the music flows.