A French Guiana wood marimba

A French Guiana wood marimba

The project: building a French Guiana wood marimba, a 3 octaves chromatic keyboard, with several sets of removable resonators and a metal structure.

I come again in French Guiana with the invitation of Olivier Marnette and the Canopée des Sciences, to build, create and meet people all over the territory,

I already come in January / February 2017 for another tour around the country,

I had also made a slide guitar for the tour, the Escagratte:

Week 1

We are in residence in Kourou Wood Science Laboratory to build the wood bars. We work under the direction of Jacques Beauchêne, with the help of the master carpenter Kwech and a young intern, on 3 Guyanese wood species.

The 3 octaves chromatic keyboard will be made with amaranth, the « purple wood« , from C3 to C6, and to compare, we will also build two C4 to C5 diatonic keyboards, with courbaril and satiné rubané.

The resonators are made with 50mm diameter PVC pipes and sealed with curtain rod pieces reinforced with tape. We keep 10 cm as margin, the pipes can be tuned by moving the blocks.

To not waste too much time and energy, we borrowed a marimba at the Cayenne Conservatory to take all the ratings.

If you are interested, you can find all the measures in the article Plans and measurements – Bergerault Marimba.

the boards are delineated, planed and cut, carved with a band saw and pre-tuned with a belt sander.

I take note, Kwech’s technique to dig the rounded shape under the bar, I will use again!

A detail I did not anticipate with the belt sander tuning is that the note pitch goes high when the wood chills! I had to take a rasp to finish the tuning…

Week 2

We are in Lycée Michotte, Cayenne with a boiler class for the building of the structure: making the base, drilling the bars and final tuning. My colleague Benoît Poulain has joined us, he will supervise the technical part and the realization with students.

First challenge, the drilling of wood bars, we need to drill with a 5 ° angle. We must also build a hundred small pieces that will support the rope’s bar. The four large bars are made of folded sheet, all the small pieces are welded on it, all that consolidated and welded, with four removable legs.

As soon as the first resonators are placed, the students start an improvisation, here are the first notes in video!

I will complete this article with the news of this instrument that continues his life in Guiana, do not hesitate to also read Plans and measurements – Bergerault Marimba, and subscribe to not miss the next articles!


A propos Nicolas Bras 12 Articles
Homemade Instrument maker, rare and strange instrument seeker / Bricoleur d'instruments, chercheur d'instruments rares

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