Five Bizarre Musical Instruments that People Built at Home


Tucked in-between the horrible song parodies and bad lip-sync webcam videos on YouTube, you can find some really talented, really great musicians. (They’re the ones who inevitably have less than 1,000 views on all their videos.) But if you look even deeper, you can find people who aren’t just innovating with their music, but they’re reinventing (and sometimes just plain inventing) the actual instruments it’s played on. Their philosophy seems to be, “If life gives you lemons, make those sons of bitches sing.”

And so today we’re saluting these mad scientists of music. These are men with so few women in their lives (or probably any people at all), they have the time to build these monstrous and strange devices. Thank you, gentlemen, for bringing your insane wares to the Internet for all of us to enjoy.

Diego Stocco’s Bassoforte

When a video starts with someone cutting up a bunch of musical instruments and hammering them together, you know you’re either in for something bizarre or yet another episode of “This Old Recording Studio.” In this case, it’s kinda both, as composer Diego Stocco pulls an Akira and mashes together a busted piano and a bass guitar into a hybrid that he calls a bassoforte.

It’s a beast of a thing that can be hammered, strummed, bowed or keyed (possibly not unlike your mother). It also sounds like a gritty action movie looks—dirty, messy, and awesome. If there are any time travelers reading this, take one to Beethoven and get him to see how Für Elise sounds on one of these bad boys.

Yuichi Onoue’s Kaisatsuko

If you’ve ever wondered what a dozen drunken violinists performing in a bathroom would sound like (and we totally bet you have. Honestly, we have fifty bucks on it, so throw us a bone) then the Kaisatsuko is for you.

It’s the invention of Japanese musician Yuichi Onoue, and it’s basically what you get when a two-string electric cello loves a hurdy-gurdy very much and then they grown-up kiss. It sounds trippy as hell, and as an added bonus, it kinda looks some Inquisition-era torture device, so you get to look like a madman while you play it. This thing is probably what Keith Richards’ “medicine cabinet” would sound like if you were to ingest all its contents at once.

Hans Reichel’s Daxophone

M.O.I.: The Daxophone

Old Man Records | Myspace Music Videos

When you were a kid, did you ever take a ruler and hold it against a desk and then give it a good strum? If you didn’t, it sounds awesome and will most assuredly make people like you if you do it over and over, nonstop, for an hour. Try it! (Just wait until we’re gone, please.)

Hans Reichel apparently took this concept and ran with it, inventing the Daxophone. Instead of just strumming it, though, you play it with a bow and a small wooden block. The weirdest part about the thing is that it sounds kinda like the disembodied voice of Charlie Brown. It’s almost like a mix between a Theremin, a saxophone, and some sort of scat (singing, not the other scat).

Tom Nunn’s Crustacean

Take a pizza pan, some radio antennas, and a bow and you’ve got The Crustacean. While The Crustacean sounds like the nickname of the guy who goes knocking on dorm room doors ass-naked at 2:30 in the morning, it’s a pretty apt name for something that looks like a robot bug that got flipped upside down.

It also sounds really, really cool. Wait until the end of the video, where Tom Nunn, the inventor, reaches back and bows the “ears.” It’s almost enough to make you wonder if the Brown Note is really a myth or not.

We’d almost like to train a kid from birth to play this thing until he could perform a one-man band concert of the Blade Runner, Hellraiser and Inception soundtracks back-to-back.

Jaime Oliver’s Silent Drum

Jaime Oliver (not to be confused with the misleadingly named “naked chef”, Jamie Oliver) is the creator of the (also misleadingly named) Silent Drum. It’s not really a drum at all, although it’s built into the shell of one. It’s an electronic instrument that just so happens to sound like nightmares. Not just regular nightmares, either. Like, the fever dreams of the nightwatchman at an abandoned carnival kind of nightmares.

The way it works is that the user pushes down on a nylon screen that’s almost certainly made from cheap women’s stockings. A camera outside of the drum shell records the impression the user’s hand makes on the nylon and a computer converts that data to sound, presumably by running it through filters like “children crying”, “animals in pain”, and “dying alone”. If you can listen to this thing without your heart icing over, they probably have jobs available for you at Goldman Sachs.

M. Asher Cantrell is a novelist, playwright and freelance writer. You can find more of his work at Cracked and Film School Rejects.