5 Easy Pieces – Amazing Instruments Edition


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Steampunk-style guitar. Photo: Worldsstrangest.com

Steampunk-style guitar. Photo: Worldsstrangest.com

As part of a series called 5 Easy Pieces, we’ll be gathering our favorite upcycled, re-purposed, vintage and handmade stuff from around the web for you to buy or make yourself. Stay tuned for quick lists of 5 must-haves and get ready to wish you had thought of that.


Try saying Aquaggaswack five times fast. Yeah, it's hard. Photo: Canoofle.com

Try saying Aquaggaswack five times fast. Yeah, it's hard. Photo: Canoofle.com

Imagine if musical performances at the Grammy’s also showcased strange instruments? We think it would make for some entertaining television. Imagine seeing the Aquaggaswack on stage—awesome. It looks like a simple compilation of household items strung together in rows. Well, it is, but the sounds go far beyond that of a young child banging on pan lids. It has an air of sophistication and a very distinctive, pointed sound. All the pot lids for the instrument were from thrift stores or given by friends to the creator of this amazing piece, Curtis Settino. This is definitely a sound we can get behind!

Take a listen, visit Oddmusic.com.

Beer Bottle Organ

Wonder how long it took to drink all those beers... Photo: Gearfuse.com

Wonder how long it took to drink all those beers... Photo: Gearfuse.com

Who knew that beer bottles could be morphed into something so elegant-looking. This beautiful contraption is from the creative mind of Gary Rickert and the sounds are come from blowing on the bottles. Using mineral oil instead of water to regulate the sound makes the instrument impervious to weather change. The organ has quite a history:

The story stretches back to 1798, on the island of Helgoland (formerly Danish territory, now German) whose church congregation were tired of paying for an organ tuner to sail out every month to tune the church organ. The pastor, who was tired of hearing the complaints, subsequently commissioned an ex-mercenary soldier/organ builder from Eisleben, (later East Germany) called Johann Samuel Kühlewein, to build an organ which would not go out of tune due to changes in temperature or weather conditions. Kühlewein thought about it for a while and decided to build an organ using bottles instead of standard organ pipes and using sealing wax to fine tune the bottles.

-The Bottleorgan.com-

Listen to the sweet sound of beer on Oddmusic.com.

Fire Organ or Pyrophone

It’s an instrument with fire. Though potentially dangerous, the pyrorgan makes beautiful sounds. The pyrorgan “uses the laws of thermoacoustics to create the oscillations in the air we hear as sound. Like traditional organs, the pyrophone (“flame sound”) has one pipe for each playable note, activated by a piano keyboard,” according to Oddmusic.com

For more fiery info visit The Thermoacoustic Organ.

LEGO Harpsichord

That's a hefty DIY project! Photo: Designbuzz.com

That's a hefty DIY project! Photo: Designbuzz.com

LEGOs are one of the most versatile toys ever. Henry Lim constructed this organ, for instance, with an estimated 100,000 LEGO pieces. According to his website, “With the exception of the wire strings, this instrument is entirely constructed out of LEGO parts—the keyboard, jacks, jack rack, jack rail, plectra, soundboard, bridge, hitch pins, tuning pins, wrestplank, nut, case, legs, lid, lid stick, and music stand are all built out of interlocking ABS (Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene) plastic bricks and related pieces. And is playable.” We want one!

To listen to the LEGO Harpsichord, visit Henrylim.org.

Glass Armonica

Besides looking like something straight out of a Dr. Suess book, the Armonica is a completely functioning instrument that was a favorite of Benjamin Franklin’s (understandable considering he invented it). The instrument is played very much like wine glasses where the rimmed pieces are wet and make an amplified high-pitched sound.

To learn more about Franklin’s Armonica, visit Glassarmonica.com.

Fill Us In

Tell us what’s missing, what we need to know and who is making heads turn and dice spin. Share in the comments!

  • yasmine

    I want to play franklyn’s harmonica

  • Heidi

    I think some instruments like this would definitely have kept me in front of the tv for longer than five minutes!