Instrument-a-week (9): Bamboo Flute

Posted by on Apr 23, 2018 in Instrument-a-week, Music, News


Difficulty: 4 od 5

CAUTION: When drilling holes in the flute, we need the help of an adult!

bamboo flute


  • a bamboo pole with an inner diameter of about 15 mm and a distance between the nodes of at least 30 cm (it can be purchased in better stocked horticulture shops where the poles can be inspected and selected appropriately; we must check, that the wood on the sticks is not cracked!)
  • straw,
  • insulating tape,
  • drill bits 9 mm and 7 mm,
  • abrasive paper,
  • wood saw,
  • measuring tape,
  • electric drill,
  • vice (desirable).


  1. From a bamboo stem, cut a piece with the length of 29 cm, which is closed on one side by a node (cut off the rod 0.5 cm behind the node) and on the other side it is open. Clean the ends of the sticks with sand paper. The length of the stick determines the basic tone of the flute which will in our case be D2 or close to it. Bamboo sticks are a natural material of an irregular round shape.
  1. On the stick we mark the places where the holes will be drilled:
  • one for the blow hole that is 2.5 cm from the center of the node,
  • 6 holes for individual tones, for which the distance is measured  FROM THE CENTER OF THE BLOW HOLE  towards the open end of the stick

1st hole 11,8 cm (43%)
2nd hole 13,0 cm (50%)
3rd hole 15,0 cm (58%)
4th hole 17,7 cm (68%)
5th hole 19,0 cm (73%)
6th hole 21,6 cm (83%)

holes – location  and dimensions

The holes are arranged in standard ratios for the “Irish flute” (i.e. penny whistle), with respect to the overall length from the center of the blowing hole to the end of the stick (100%,  in this case this distance is 26 cm).

  1. We drill holes (ATTENTION: Children need help and supervision from an adult!):For  blowing hole (the first mark), use a drill bit with a diameter of 9 mm and for other holes 7mm. The easiest way to do this is when the stick is clamped in a vice. When drilling, we must pay  not to drill through the opposite wall of the bamboo tube, which happens quickly if the drill bits are used with a tapered tip. You may insert a wooden stick into the bamboo tube before drilling to stop the drill! You may also mark the necessary depth on a drill with electrical tape.
  1. With sanding paper, twisted in a small coil, we sand the edges of the holes to clean the pieces of wood that has been rubbed off when drilling.
  1. We can now play on the flute as a transversal flute, by blowing into the first hole from the side.But it will be much easier to play with the help of a mouthpiece. We do this by cutting a 5 cm long piece of straw with scissors, which is flattened at one end. With an insulating tape, attach it to the flute along the edge of the blowing hole, as shown in the picture. The tape attachment should not be too tight to permit the air to flow.

    the mouthpiece

  2. With the index finger, middle and ring fingers of each hand, we cover the holes of the flutes and lift them one by one from the bottom up.  We will be playing tones Do, Re, Mi, Fa, So, La and Ti, and when we cover all the holes again and open the highest hole, the octave of the basic ton Do will be heard.


    finger placement

NOTICE: It is permitted to make the instrument according to these instructions exclusively for NON-COMMERCIAL purposes, when no activity contributes to earnings (e.g. in kindergartens, schools or free on workshops).


(1) Membranophone
(2) Fruit-box Kalimba
(3) Moped
(4) Cardboard Tubophone
(5) Bird Whistle
(6) Froggy

(7) Water Flute
(8) CD Flute