Making Sounds at Home: Tube guitar

Try this simple, effective activity to make your own instrument using simple household items, which you can play and twang after!

This guide is part of our Sense Arts, Sport & Wellbeing programme. This activity can be done at a time that suits you, either in your own space or in an educational setting.

Who is this for?

This is a crafting activity for people who are deafblind or have complex disabilities and can be enjoyed by anyone.

 Why does this make a difference?

This is a creative activity that helps people explore and expand their creative choices while supporting independence in the activity. 

How to do this activity

What you’ll need

  • Crisp tube
  • String or guitar strings
  • Rigid ruler or piece of wood
  • Tape
  • Metal skewer

Step 1

Skewer a hole in the base of the crisp tube.

Step 1

Silver base of crisp tube with a hole skewered in the middle.

Skewer a hole in the base of the crisp tube.

Step 2

A hand holds the crisp tube upside down and a wooden ruler is taped to the tube with half of it extended out.

Tape the ruler to the bottom end of the crisp tube so half is extended out.

Step 3

Wooden ruler with cardboard taped to top with a 1cm notch cut into the top.

Fold a piece of cardboard over the other end of the ruler, tape it in place and cut in a 1cm notch.

Step 4

Ruler with string threaded through the notch made in the cardboard with a knot tied at the end.

Thread the string through the hole and tie a knot in the end to fit the notch made in the cardboard.

Step 5

Top of crisp tube with notch holding knotted purple string that has been threaded through the hole in the bade of the tube.

Make a 1cm notch in the top of the crisp tube to hold a knot at the other end of the string (thread the string through the hole in the base of the tube first). To make it as taught as possible, unhook the knot from the top of the ruler, then tie your second knot a little in from the top of the tube before hooking both knots back in place.

How to play your tube guitar

1. Hold the tube between your knees or elbows and hold the ruler with one hand, while plucking the string, gently bend and relax the ruler to hear different pitches, using the left hand to grip the ruler and the right hand to pluck the white string from left to right. 

2 hands holding the tube guitar with ruler pointing upwards

2. Holding the tube guitar the other way round pluck the string and shake it back and forth to hear a ‘wobble’ sound. The string must be really tight for this and works best with a guitar string or wire – take a look at adaptations to find out more. 

2 hands gripping the ruler with the tube guitar upside down

How to adapt the session

Top of crisps tube with guitar string secured to the top of the tube with a bolt and nut.

If you’d like to use a guitar string, secure the ball at the end of the string into the notch made at the top of the ruler. Use a bolt and nut to wrap the other end of the string around at the top of the tube, like in the picture. 

Tube guitar decorated with white paper with purple shapes.

If you fancy, you can also decorate your tube guitar. 

Content created by Tom Peel.