By Brad Dutz
Originally published in DRUM! Magazine’s December 2005 Issue
Part of a percussionist’s job is creating and collecting instruments, which I think is also very fun. The more instruments you have, the more gigs you can cover. Having unique instruments can also be your calling card for studio work.
Creating shakers is very simple. You’ll be pleasantly surprised when experimenting with filler materials such as small beads, popcorn, BBs – just about anything that can make a sound. Windchimes are also simple to make. I have made them from bottle caps, piano tuning pins, keys, bamboo, nails, shells, glass, forks, spoons, pods, pistachio shells, and Brazil nuts.
Metal products are easy to come by and are very cheap in most cases. I was recently in an antique shop and found some old brass bowls that make great bells. In the same store, I found an old Iranian gong that sounds extremely groovy. The best shakers in the world are old 35mm metal film canisters, which can also be found in antique stores. Industrial supply places have great scrap metal that they get rid of cheap. I have found good anvil and bell plate sounds at metal shops. And if you can find a military supply store, old artillery shell casings make amazing big bells.
Always keep one eye on newspaper ads for old instruments as well. Many great products are sold by people who don’t care to keep them around.
Keep searching everywhere!
Brad Dutz has played with Alanis Morrisette, Kiss, Willie Nelson, and Tribal Tech; on several movie soundtracks and TV shows, and teaches at Cal State Long Beach. rhythmweb.com/dutz/