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MAKE staffer Chris Connors made didgeridoos out of PVC pipes with a beeswax coating on one end, serving as the mouthpiece — he repeatedly dips the end into molten wax just like he was making a candle.

John Baichtal

My interests include writing, electronics, RPGs, scifi, hackers & hackerspaces, 3D printing, building sets & toys. @johnbaichtal nerdage.net


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Comments

  1. Ethan Dicks says:

    When I did this years ago, I found I got a better mouthpiece by rolling a 1/4″-thick (6mm) bit of wax out, then applying it as a ring to the top of the PVC before doing the dipping. I got a taller, more shapeable mouthpiece without depositing a thick layer of wax on the side of the pipe where it did little good.

    1. Mike says:

      That’s great advice, I plan on trying this. Do you know any web writeups on how to play didge? I’ve tried sputtering into the end of a pipe and it seems there must be more to the technique than I can figure out on my own.

  2. Frank G says:

    Having my first experience using sugru recently, this seems like a good use for it instead of the beeswax. It would be more durable and I just noticed the ad on the page where you can get it on sale. It would probably be a little more expensive to use than the wax, but easier to shape than hot/warm wax.

  3. Nice!

    I own a set of black ABS pipe didges, shaped over a camp fire, that I bought from a homeless guy (he prefers “houseless”) in Albuquerque over a decade ago. How’s that for “nouveau nomad”?

    1. Don’t try to shape PVC pipe over a camp fire though – the fumes are far more toxic than ABS.

      ABS softens at a fairly low temperature (yay 3D printing!), so if you warm up the pipe gently, you can flare the end a bit to create more volume, and put some gentle kinks in the pipe to get a more natural sound. A perfectly straight pipe will give a more pure tone with a clear resonance frequency, but that is not always what you want in a didg.

      If you heat the ABS pipe too high, the surface plastic will start melting and bubbling. If you don’t overdo it, that can actually create a nice surface texture as well. For the two ABS didges I own, it’s hard to tell they’re made of plastic until you actually touch them. And they sound great as well!

  4. Chris Connors says:

    These are great tips. I’ve since found an electric fondue pan, which will keep me from waxing up the kitchen pans. I’ll try the wax softening technique and report back.

    Once I get the hang of making the mouthpiece, decorating and modifying the body of the didgeridoo will be fun.

    Another idea I considered was making a removable, 3D printed mouthpiece that could be slipped on and off of the pipe. It would be possible to dip the mouthpiece in wax to get a softer fit. The workshop I went to had a bunch of didges with parafin mouthpieces, and I didn’t like the way those smelled. The beeswax smells nice, though.

  5. bob a says:

    I’ve used Shapelock to make didge mouthpieces. It works great.

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