How to Make Your Own Balloon Drum


Step One: Buying an old pot at a garage sale for $1


Step One: Get a Drum Shell

Bowls, pots and vases work well. Glass, metal, tin, and most types of ceramics are all good balloon-drum shells and help produce rich tones. Plastic and Tupperware, however, do not resonate well.

Search garage sales, thrift stores, and your grandma’s basement or attic (if she says it’s okay) for old bowls and pots.


Step Two: Get the Right Balloon for the Bowl

Since balloon-drum diameters will be as variable as the containers you choose (ranging all the way from cereal bowls to stew pots), you will need different-sized balloons to stretch over them. It’s best to become acquainted with the various balloon brands, styles and sizes that are available.

Here we have an 11.5-inch diameter cooking pot. Next to the pot we have (from left to right) a three-foot ball, at 24-inch balloon, a 16-inch balloon and an 11-inch balloon. After some trail and error you will easily be able to tell which size balloon is best to use (easiest to apply and sounds the best). In this example, the 24-inch balloon will work best.

Step Two: Decide what size balloon is best to use as the skin



Step Three: Cut off the Mouthpiece

Cut the balloon a little below its widest horizontal diameter, and discard the mouthpiece.

Step Three: Cut off the mouthpiece


Step Four: Stretch the Balloon Over the Bowl

Place the balloon over one end of the bowl and simply stretch it over the entire opening.

Step Four: Stretching the skin over the pot

Sometimes it is easier to do this with three hands, so either use your knee to keep the balloon on as you stretch it over, or ask for a friend’s help.

Step Five: Securing the balloon skin


Step Five: Keeping the Balloon On the Drum

This is the biggest trick! If the container you’re using has perpendicular sides, like a stew pot does, you can secure the balloon skin by wrapping and tying a non-inflated skinny (twisting) balloon around it. If you’re using a soup bowl with angled sides, the skinny balloon will slide right off—so you’ll need to make it stay put with thick packing tape.

Once it is secured, your balloon drum is ready to play.


Step Six: The Sticks

Chopsticks from your local Chinese restaurant make for good balloon drums sticks. Regular drumsticks are too large and heavy. You can also try shiskabob skewers or #2 pencils, using the eraser end to hit the balloon.



Step Six: Hit it!

Here a few more pointers:

1. Get a variety of sizes: Your balloon drum set will sound its best with a wide variety of sizes and types of shells, ranging from low bass drums (stew pots with three foot balloons) to high note drums (coffee cans with eleven inch balloons)

2. Tightening the tone: Once the skin is on, you can pull it tighter or looser to change the pitch of the drum.

3. Embrace the experiment: As you create balloon drums, think of yourself as a scientist in a lab—constantly experimenting. For every 10 lab experiments, maybe only one will work. But when it does, there is a genuine feeling of discovery. Making balloon drums is an experimental process. Don’t get frustrated early on. Pay close attention to what makes good sounds and what doesn’t. If you see the experiment through, your reward will be a group of drums that have their own special character and sounds, adding to the individuality of your balloon drum set.

4. Keep it cheap: One cool thing about balloon drums is that they can be made quite inexpensively. Never pay more than $5 for a container unless you think it will contribute a special sound that your drum set lacks.

5. Shopping for Balloons:
It is ideal to get to know various brands and sizes of balloons, without investing too much money. To do that, visit a balloon wholesale store, avoiding party shops since they tend to carry only cheap party balloons that are way overpriced. Online, you can check in order to see the kinds of balloons that are out there (they also have really good prices).


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