Instrument-a-week (4): Cardboard Tubophone

Posted by on Mar 16, 2014 in Instrument-a-week, News


Difficulty: 4 out of 5


  • cardboard tubes with a diameter of 5.5 to 6 cm and a total length of about 5m (they can be obtained for free at the stores selling fabric; they are useed to roll the fabric),
  • 2 angular cardboard strips (such strips are used to protect the edges of objects in transportation, such as closets, white goods, etc.; they can be obtained in stores selling packaging products); wooden strips can also be used instead of cardboard ones,
  • 1 piece of M5 (5 mm) ​​threaded rod, 1m long
  • at least 12 M5 (5 mm) nuts and washers of 5.3 mm
  • hacksaw
  • knife and scissors
  • drilling machine and drill 5 mm
  • measuring meter
  • tuner
  • calculator
  • old flip-flops or sandals with flat, rubber sole (Crocs or similar).


  1. First, build a rubber racket for striking the tube. With a knife, cut strips of the flip-flops or the upper part of sandals, so that only rubber soles remain. With a knife and scissors, narrow and shape the heel part of the sole to form a holder which fits your hand.Instrumen-a-week (3): Mofa Photo: Peter Kus
  2. Test the tone pitch of the tube by tapping the opening with rubber racket.
  3. Decide, what will be your prime tone which will determine your tuning. You can set it accurately by using a chromatic tuner, cutting small segments of the tube and verifying its pitch each time with the tuner. When the tube is shortened, the pitch will elevate. Be careful not to cut too big segment at once – if cut too much and the pitch will be too high, you will latter not be able to correct the error.
  4. Decide which scale you will use.
  5. You can cut the tubes according to just intonation (natural tuning) by taking into account the following ratios of the intervals.










    The ratio









    This diatonic scale is transposed according to your selection of the prime tone, which is based on the length of the first tube. If you choose for example major pentatonic scale, than select the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th and 8th tone.Instrumen-a-week (3): Mofa Photo: Peter Kus

  6. Drill holes in both cardboard strips: start 5 cm from the edge , and then continue at intervals of 7-8 cm toward the other end. Drill one more hole than the number of your tubes.
  7. Cut the threaded rod into segments with a length of about 9 cm. Use the hacksaw.
  8. Arrange the tubes you have cut between two cardboard strips so that the individual tubes are about 7-8 cm apart. Openings of the tubes should be set in a straight line. Parallel to this line, only 10 cm below, place the two strips – one below and the other on the  top of the tube. Put a few wraps of the duck tape around each tube, just above the strips. This will prevent the tubes sliding out of the holder while stroked on the top.Instrumen-a-week (3): Mofa Photo: Peter Kus
  9. If you use long tubes, you will have to add 2 additional stripes that will hold the tubes in two diagonal lines near the bottom openings of the tubes.Instrumen-a-week (3): Mofa Photo: Peter Kus
  10. Insert the cut segments of the threaded rod through the holes in the stripes and put the nuts and washers on the opposite ends. Tighten the nuts and thus press the tubes firmly against the two stripes.

The sound in the tubophone is produced by blasts of air, produced by hitting the openings of the tubes. The instrument can be classified as plosive aerophone.

© 2014 Peter Kus




(1) Membranophone
(2) Fruit-box Kalimba
(3) Moped
(5) Bird Whistle
(6) Froggy
(7) Water Flute