Homemade Bells - the Gory Details

Project updates


Unfortunately, I have not yet figured out how to well record bells, AND I am trying to keep the file sizes low for easy download. This means that they won't sound much like they do in real life. You will get the idea though.


Large Grey Bell #2
Large Grey Bell #2
Diameter Height Thickness Ring Tone
9 1/16" 39" 1/4" 344 hz
This one is going to be placed at the Issaquah Public Market (Issquah WA).

Listen to LG2.mp3 (14.5K)

Very interesting and somewhat concerning, this bell is somewhat longer than LG1 yet it rings higher. This could mean two things:

  1. The metal composition of each tank varies quite a bit even though it looks the same
  2. When the bells are "long" they function in "bar modes" (like wind chimes) but when short the function in "bell modes".

Large Grey Bell #2 - Bottom
Large Grey Bell #2 Bottom
Diameter Height Thickness Ring Tone
9 1/16" 12 3/4" 1/4" 420 hz

This is the bottom of LG2. Honestly, I did not expect it to sound like much. While the thing was sitting on the ground (on its base) I inadvertantly bonked it. It rang. I was surprised. So I drilled a hole, hung it, and rung it.

Listen to LG2b.mp3 (17.3K) It's SWEET!

I have come to the conclusion that the bell xylophone will be made with bell bottoms, not tops. The sound is singular, crisp, and clear -- just the thing that I think you'd want in a xylophone. This is really good news b/c now I will significantly reduce my waste.


Large Grey Bell #1 (Ray & Melanie's Bell)
Diameter Height Thickness Hammer Tone Ring Tone
9 1/16" 27 3/4" 1/4" ~ 722 or 891 hz 323 hz

Since this one was for my neighbor (who got me into this mess :->) and he wanted it cut in half, that's what he got.

Listen to Large-Bell-Half.mp3 (28K)

It sounds pretty sweet. Higher than the Medium Orange one (at 40") which makes sense considering it is significantly shorter. Diameter and thickness do matter, but it seems that length matters the most.

NOTE: This one sounds pretty much the same note as the short green bell, only in a lower octave, or with more overtones. This is a fairly interesting.

I have another one of these big grey ones that I intend to cut down in varying lengths and measure along the way. I'm hoping to come up with something like "x" inches == "X" Hz, but I'm pre-supposing that the relationship is not linear.

Large Grey Bell

short blue bell
Short Blue Bell
Diameter Height Thickness Measured Tone
4 3/16" 5 3/4" 1/8" 954 hz

This bell was one of the precut ones.

Listen to Short-Blue-Bell.mp3 (31K)

You'll notice that this one has a fairly clean single note sounding tone. I attribute this to the shortness of the bell.


Short Green Bell
Diameter Height Thickness Measured Tone
4 3/16" 6 1/4" 1/8" 870 hz

This bell was also one of the precut ones.

Listen to Short-Green-Bell.mp3 (19K)

You'll notice that this one also has a fairly clean single note sounding tone and is lower than the short blue one. This makes sense since the bell has the same general dimensions on it is longer.

Short Green Bell

Long Blue Bell
Long Blue Bell
  Diameter Height Thickness Measured Tone
1st Cut 4 3/16" 24 1/2" 1/8" ~ 793 hz
2nd Cut 4 3/16" 21 1/4" 1/8" 793 hz

This bell was this first one I cut and I actually cut it twice, although I only recorded the second cut.

You'll notice that the measured tone doesn't seem to change when the bell gets shorter. This does not make sense, except for the fact that at this length the bell is considerably rich with many tones. Before the second cut the bell sounded considerably more "ugly" or less clean.

Listen to Long-Blue-Bell.mp3 (29K)


Medium Orange Bell
Diameter Height Thickness Ring Tone
7 3/16" 40 3/4" 1/4" 585 hz

This one is a bit bigger than the small ones in diameter and wall thickness. I cut it off fairly close to the bottom and it has a pretty ugly sound. This one is great example of the many frequencies that bells can generate.

Listen to Medium-Orange-Bell.mp3 (24K)

I have formed a hypothesis that cutting the bells of right at the bottom doesn't sound so great and that cutting them shorter is better.

Medium Orange Bell

Combined Data
Bell Diameter Height Thickness Ring Tone
LG2 9 1/16" 39" 1/4" 344 hz
LG1 9 1/16" 27 3/4" 1/4" 323 hz
LG2b 9 1/16" 12 3/4" 1/4" 420 hz
Orange 7 3/16" 40 3/4" 1/4" 585 hz
Blue Short 4 3/16" 5 3/4" 1/8" 954 hz
Green Short 4 3/16" 6 1/4" 1/8" 870 hz
Blue Long Cut 1 4 3/16" 24 1/2" 1/8" ~ 793 hz
Blue Long Cut 2 4 3/16" 21 1/4" 1/8" 793 hz

Back to the story...


Page last updated 29-July-2001 Comments, questions, or helpful hints to flint