My Homemade Gutter Harps

by Pat
(White Oak, PA)

Homemade Gutter Harp

Homemade Gutter Harp

I made three wind harps out of old gutter pieces I had in a scrap pile: one 36 inch, one 24 inch, and one 12 inch. I didn't use tuning screws, instead I just used larger bridges to make the strings longer or tighter. I used a 10-lb fishing line (for the strings) and it works well. I did all my construction from reused materials.

I set the harps up in a pattern from small to tall and close together so they would play several notes at once. I found when making these harps that the smaller harps sound better and produce more sound if you drill two 1.5-inch holes, one at the top on one side and the other at the bottom on the other side. The larger harp didn't sound as good with two holes, so I drilled one hole in the center of one side.

I noticed they do need to have a lot of wind to play, and if I slide the bridges up and down, I get really nice notes. I made a bridge for each string so I can adjust each string. I wonder if I need to adjust them more or if my methods are wrong because I had to hold them in front of a fan to get sound? We had a breeze of around 5 mph today, and it was hard to hear them but they did play.

I can't find instructions on how these things should be tuned, so I memorized a picture and just did it.

Well, I gave it a good shot. They do work and sound great as a group, so I plan to keep them, just gonna wait for wind to pick up. I built all three, plus a few that didn't work out in about 5 hours.

I'm planning a nice wooden harp now, it should be a lot better than gutter harps, because wood is my craft. I think I have found my new hobby.

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by: Don (Webmaster)

Pat, thank you for sharing your experience with making homemade Aeolian gutter harps. Getting the sounds desired does require experimenting with the tension of the wires, and often much patience. I like your idea of constructing harps in various sizes and setting them in a pattern to play a variety of musical notes. Interesting.

Congratulations on your new hobby.

So readers can get an idea of the musical sounds possible, here's an interesting YouTube video and sound recording of a freestanding gutter harp in action:

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