6 Crazy DIY String Instruments

Craft & Design Music

A guitar, or any number of stringed instruments, are interesting things to play or even attempt to play. Making one from scratch though is an altogether different challenge. DIY kits are available that make the process easier, but for something truly your own and extremely unique, these instruments should provide inspiration.

Flamethrower Ukulele


This build may start out with a normal working ukulele, but the results are truly unique. Inspired by Mad Max, Make:’s own Caleb Kraft decided to make a flame throwing instrument. Instead of an electric guitar, he decided to take things down a notch, and construct a fire-breathing ukulele. You can check out how to make it yourself here.

Les Claypool’s Whamola


If you have heard of a whamola, chances are it’s been in the context of Primus’ Les Claypool. If I had to describe it, it’s sort of like a single-string upright bass that can be “stretched” with one hand, while either beat on with a stick or plucked with your fingers. It’s a relatively easy instrument to make, as seen below.

DIY Whamola


You don’t have to play for a popular and extremely funky rock band to have your own whamola. These DIY instructions should put you on the path to funkiness. Having built one myself, I believe there’s a possibility of snapping strings and whipping your face if played too violently. I’d recommend taking it easy at first, or even wearing a face shield. I seriously wonder if that’s why I’ve only seen pictures of Les Claypool playing this while wearing a mask!

Cycle Pole Upright Bass


There is not a ton of information on how this bass was constructed, but, being shaped similarly to a motorcycle, it’s definitely interesting. In addition to the unique shape, the lights are able to come on in the dark and flash to the beat.

Weapons into Instruments


You may have heard the expression “beat swords into plowshares,” but in something of a modern twist, Pedro Reyes decided to turn confiscated firearms into instruments. What I assume is some sort of electric harp is pictured above, but it’s only one of 50 weapon-instruments constructed by the team that worked on this art project.

3D Printed Guitar


For a more traditional instrument, what’s pictured above is an actual guitar. Unlike all of the crazy instruments above, it sounds like a normal instrument and doesn’t shoot flames. It is, however, translucent, and largely made by 3D printing. Given the quality of the finished build, maybe we will see many more like this in the future!

Cigar Box Guitar


Cigar box guitars each have unique sounds and are fairly beginner friendly instruments to build. Check out our instructions to build your own here on Make:!


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Jeremy is an engineer with 10 years experience at his full-time profession, and has a BSME from Clemson University. Outside of work he’s an avid maker and experimenter, building anything that comes into his mind!

View more articles by Jeremy S Cook


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