“I sound my barbaric yawp over the rooftops of the field” , from Song of Myself by Walt Whitman.
Alphorns, in general identified as Alpine Horns or Alpenhorns, make a heat, rich, sonorous, mysterious sound; their history is mature and married to the Alps. They are beautiful pieces of woodworking additionally. I wished to play one, so I place out to form one. I built the Alphorns shown below in my workshop in Wisconsin, USA.
Online page Contents:
1. Background info on Alphorns
2. Photos of my carried out Alphorn
3. Alphorn and mouthpiece dimensional drawings
4. Form log of organising alphorn mouthpieces
5. Total form log of my first Alphorn. This Alphorn is constituted of Sitka Tidy, is a one-fragment alphorn, and is completely wrapped with wooden reed wrapping.
6. Form log of my 2nd alphorn, which is in growth. The intent of this 2nd alphorn is to form an alphorn from very cheap, readily available constructing scramble, and additionally to form a delicate-weight horn that breaks down into 3 sections for much less difficult transportation.
I made up my ideas to form an Alphorn tuned to F (approx. 373cm long or 12′ – 3″ long). The mouthpiece sizes appear to differ from such as a trombone mouthpiece on the sizable pause, to such as a French Horn mouthpiece on the smaller pause. The smaller mouthpieces work higher to play the melodies in the elevated register. For reference the length of tubing in a trombone is about 9 toes. Concerning the shape of the Alphorn bell, I drew this from photos. I soundless had questions about the length of the principle trunk of an alphorn, so I wrote an e-mail to an Alphorn participant, William Hopson, who gave me the sizable advice to form it somewhat long after which trim it down to tune it. The drawings below are a results of my evaluate.
Overview Video of the Construction of this Alphorn
Dimensional drawings and an in depth form log for this alphorn, might perhaps perchance fair be found extra down on this page.
A Short Historical past of Alphorns
These beautiful horns were built from comely trees increasing high in the Alps and were primitive by Alpine shepherds 2000 years ago to talk with various of us and to name grazing animals, and additionally to make music. Intention motivate, builders would take a high mountain tree that grew out of a steep mountainside. After increasing out from the mountainside, the tree would turn and grow vertically in direction of the sun, and the shape of the tree used to be primitive by the early builders of Alphorns to make the shape of the horn. The trees were ruin up in half, carved out, the halves reattached, and the horn made. Alphorn having fun with declined in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s as they were wished much less for verbal exchange. Efforts were made in Switzerland in the route of the 1800’s to promote the Alphorn due to its cultural significance, and the Alphorn has seen a resurgence in the final hundred and fifty years, and namely the final 40 years. They’ll be purchased on-line or at some retail outlets, and there are Alphorn having fun with workshops and gala’s in Europe and North The usa. It would seem that F is the most unique pitch for alphorns in North The usa, while F# is exclusive in Europe.
Alphorn Drawings by a Novice Alphorn Builder
Now then, onto the alphorn I will form. After all my evaluate, I hand-drew the drawings for constructing an Alphorn to most efficient match what I had learned. I’m now not an experienced Alphorn maker, and this form is my form now not a form from an Alphorn master. The scale are as passe as I might perhaps perchance make them but the constructing advance I will utilize is now not passe. I will make my Alphorn tube the utilize of the birdsmouth joinery advance primitive by shipbuilders to form ship masts. I primitive this advance to form the Sitka Tidy mast on my sailboat. This might occasionally be very procure joinery and I will utilize it to form my Alphorn. I feel that my advance of constructing the bell and trunk of the alphorn, namely the birdsmouth constructing methodology will eat greatly much less wood than gluing up procure blocks and hollowing them out, and have to additionally allow me to make the trunk of the alphorn with out area of abilities twisted planes. It is seemingly you’ll perhaps perchance make your have confidence Alphorn!
Long-established Alphorns available for rob , advance in three or four sections that one assembles into the Alphorn ahead of having fun with it. This makes transporting the Alphorn primary much less difficult. Mine will be a one fragment Alphorn!
These are decidedly European devices, so I primitive the metric procedure in my drawings. I perform now not claim to be an authority on Alphorns, right here is fair my documentation of the one that I built. In my notes below I utilize both metric and imperial notation, apologies for any confusion.
Truly be at liberty to make utilize of these drawings for constructing an Alphorn to your have confidence utilize, contact firstname.lastname@example.org for permission to reproduce these drawings for any motive various than constructing an Alphorn to your have confidence utilize.
Alphorn mouthpiece dimensions. One can make an limitless differ of mouthpieces with varied cup diameters, cup depth, cup shape, rim width and shape, bore diameter and shape. The bore have to decrease to around 3/16″ at the defective of the bowl, after which make higher out to 5/16
or so at the discharge pause of the mouthpiece, but with my tools, I’m restricted to straight bores when making the mouthpiece from wood. I even have confidence made three prior to now, all pictured extra below on this page. Smaller diameter mouthpieces can motivate having fun with elevated notes, and elevated diameter mouthpieces will be higher excellent for lower notes.
Survey improved mouthpiece drawings below! At the side of tapered internal bore. I feel the tapered internal bore performs higher and sounds higher.
MATERIALS: This Alphorn will be built from Sitka Tidy from the pacific northwest, exhausting maple from I tree I lower down years ago, and Shaded Walnut.
GLUE: I will utilize Titebond III glue for many of this challenge. In three areas, I will utilize a 2-share epoxy: I will utilize two-share epoxy to glue the pause rings to the bell, to glue the bell to the long trunk, and to glue the foot to the bell.
My handbook to constructing an alphorn is below, but first, a share on making mouthpieces
Making an Alphorn Mouthpiece
I even have confidence been experimenting with making mouthpieces. I even have confidence made wooden ones from maple and cherry and have confidence made 17mm, 18mm, 20mm, and 22mm 3D printed mouthpieces. 1st I will exclaim their private praises one of the most crucial wooden ones I even have confidence made. These have confidence straight interior bores, which I procure perform now not play or sound as well as mouthpieces that have confidence tapered interior bores as shown in the drawings above. I even have confidence purchased wooden mouthpieces that have confidence tapered interior bores, and the 3D printed ones I make have confidence tapered interior bores.
Here I will exclaim their private praises examples of easy wooden mouthpieces and additionally plastic ones.
Maple is a passe wood for the making of an Alpenhorn mouthpiece. I had lower down a exhausting maple that grew on my property in Thiensville, Wisconsin, about eighteen years ago, and I soundless had some sections of the trunk left. I made this mouthpiece from that tree.
I even have confidence been experimenting with making and having fun with mouthpieces of varied cup diameters, depth, interior shape, bore diameter, and rim width/shape. I even have confidence wound up prior to now with little, medium, and sizable versions of the mouth fragment. Demonstrate that the outer shape of the cup doesn’t replicate what the internal cup shape is….
Experimentation: 3D printed Alphorn Mouthpieces
Designed on Fusion360 and printed in PETG on a Prusa MK3 i3 3D printer. These are 100% procure PETG and feature tapered internal bores as shown in the drawings above.
Listed right here are CAD .stl recordsdata for the 18mm and 20mm mouthpieces. When I delivery these in Fusion360, I procure I have to scale them down by a component of 0.1 in expose for them to be the factual dimension (I’m now not sure why when I compose an .stl file it adjustments the size vs the distinctive CAD file).
These are drawings are Copyright Jason Talbot Jan 2021. Please be at liberty to make utilize of them for making a mouthpiece to your have confidence private utilize, these drawings are now to now not be primitive for making mouthpieces for resale air any business motive.
Below are two form logs of Alphorn initiatives.
1. The predominant is a Sitka Tidy Alphorn wrapped in wood reed. Here’s a one fragment alphorn.
2. The 2nd form log is for an Alphorn built out of low-worth SPF (Tidy, Pine or Fir) constructing scramble. This alphorn is presumably now not wrapped in wood reed and have to be lower into segments so as that it will be disassembled.
Form Log 1 of two: Making an Alphorn Out of Sitka Tidy and Wrapped with Wood Reeds:
Sitka Tidy is an amazingly determined and straight, vertical grained wood, with honest strength-to-weight ratios. Due its high strength, low weight, straight grain, and minimal knots, Sitka Tidy is primitive for airplane framework (including the Wright Flyer), sailboat masts, and it is a ways additionally critical for sound-glorious in devices.
The tree itself is fear-animated. I airplane and prick and lower this wood with the utmost recognize, and have confidence most efficient primitive it for making such transcendental issues as sailboat masts and spars, and musical devices. The Sitka Tidy grows in the Pacific Northwest of the united states and Canada. The Sitka Tidy is one among the few species on earth identified to grow over 300 feet extensive (over 90m). The forest of Sitka Tidy has been vastly diminished by logging, but on a determined trace, it is a ways believed of a “species of least grief” concerning potential for extinction of the species. The most lifelike of these trees were lower down prior to now sooner than the giants will be measured. The older trees perform now not even have confidence branches on the lower 100 toes of the trunk. The Queets Tidy in Olympic National Park is 450 years mature, and a few Sitka Spruces are over 700 years mature. All wood is particular wood in its have confidence scheme, and this additionally is extremely particular wood.
….and so, somberly, we attain the proportion where the tree (now not most well-known the tree in the image) has been chopped down and milled into scramble for our utilize. I will turn this into an Alphorn, which is a worthwhile pause. I need I will be of such a comely utilize after I chunk the dirt. I might perhaps perchance be entirely cheerful to advance motivate to the soil, and to preserve out as Whitman suggests: from Leaves of Grass: “I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I admire, While you want me again look for me below your boot-soles.” All trees are particular, and these Tidy are particular even amongst all trees; I will make the loads of the wood.
Two 4/4 x 6 x 17′ rough sawn Sitka Tidy boards from McCormick Slide in Madison Wisconsin. Dimensions are 1.0″ x 6″ x 17′. These are perfectly straight, straight and vertical grained board with out a knots. I built the alphorn from these two boards, plus a 4/4 x 6″ x 7foot board I had in the basement, at the pause of the challenge I was left with a 4/4 x 4 x 8 foot fragment of Sitka Tidy final from this raw cloth.
Making the Alpenhorn Bell
The bell will be built of Sitka comely from laminated sections as shown below. After gluing the pieces collectively, I will prick them to round.
I even have confidence left the OD uncarved as I prick out the ID, in are attempting and preserve strength of the wood as I chisel away from the ID. The strength of the chisel blows will surprise a particular person, as this Sitka is procure. WATCH THE TREE GROWTH LINES and take into account that that woods splits along the grain. After a short time carving, a particular person will understad this and utilize it to their merit. I’m the utilize of my straight chisels for the majority of this carving because straight chisels are soooo primary much less difficult to sharpen. As I procure closer to the carried out ID I will utilize my twisted chisel.
Now I will originate carving the outdoors of the completely different half. One complicated facet of carving this bell is maintaining it tight so as that it doesn’t trail as one carves it. Demonstrate the aid blocks that I even have confidence screwed into the work desk. After implementing this advance of securing the workpiece, the carving grew to vary into more efficient.
I primitive a two share epoxy to glue the rings to the bell and to every various. It is complicated to look in the characterize but the little pause of the bell is resting up against a wooden brace to preserve it in alignment so as that the gargantuan face of the bell is laying flat on the ring. Ranking sure to wear latex gloves when working with epoxy.
I measured out the approximate dimension of the rental available for artowork on the head of the bell, and arrived at approx 8″ Long x 2″ at the slim pause x 5″ at the broad pause. I sketched out that rental on a fraction of paper after which sketched out the floral theme I will utilize. I drew springtime wildflowers which can perhaps perchance be native to my home right here in Wisconsin; from left to gentle: Wood Violets, Trillium, and Buttercups.
Making the long trunk of the Alpenhorn
I built the long trunk (now not sure the factual terminology for the long tube of the Alpenhorn, but I’m calling it a trunk) of the Alphorn from Sitka Tidy, the utilize of the Birdsmouth constructing methodology, as shown in the drawings above. Here’s how I did it.
IMPORTANT NOTE: I made the trunk of the Alphorn 6″ (15.24cm) LONGER than shown on the drawing. The additional length used to be added to the mouthpiece pause of the trunk. If I would have confidence added the extra length to the bell-pause of the trunk, the diameter wouldn’t have confidence been factual where it meets the bell. I will trim the length of the mouthpiece pause later when the horn is assembled in an are attempting and tune the horn to F, with any luck this works.
Be attentive now to now not make the staves to gargantuan or too little. The scale in the drawing are proper; if your staves are somewhat to gargantuan the internal bore of your alphorn will be to gargantuan. Double test and dry suit your staves and also it is seemingly you’ll perhaps perchance shave them somewhat smaller if wished.
NOW, dry fit the staves collectively and preserve them along with zip ties. Test that the OD of the assembled staves is factual. It is seemingly you’ll perhaps perchance soundless shave down the staves at this level to decrease the OD, but you can not make it higher.
The sizable pause of the trunk and the little pause of the bell, will both be fitted with hardwood ring flanges on their outer diameters. These will be epoxied on, and have to in turn be epoxied collectively to connect the trunk to the bell. Listed right here are the Shaded walnut flanges being made.
Attaching the Bell to the Trunk
I let the epoxy on the flanges cure for roughly an hour. At that level it used to be well place but by no potential completely cured. This used to be the level I wished to glue the trunk to the bell, as I will procure a lawful chemical epoxy bond on all faces of the epoxied joint. I gathered up a bunch of spring clamps. Survey the plastic covers on the jaws of the spring clamps? Retract these off beforehand….they were too slippery and saved permitting the clamps to trot off, so I needed to bewitch away them in a whisk in the route of the glue-up.
Tuning an Alphorn
I made up my ideas to make an Alphorn tuned to F. F# is additionally standard, but when paying consideration to most Alphorn tunes on youtube, it seemed most were tuned to F. The final discover technique to tune an Alphorn is to make it longer or shorter. One can lower to tuned-pitch of an alphorn by inserted an extender into the mouthpiece bore after which inserting your mouthpiece into the extender. To my info there might be now not a mode to make the tuned pitch of an alphorn elevated, various than by cutting it down to a shorter length. When one performs an alphorn, the variation in pitch comes from the embouchure and frequency of vibration and airflow created by the gamers mouth and lungs, but the pure tuned pitch of the instrument is dependent upon the maker in the route of tuning, by cutting it to length. For this reason, the instrument is made somewhat longer than wished so as that it will be trimmed down in length to tune it.
I was irregular if the pitch might perhaps perchance be modified by attaching the bell (I bewitch the extra length of the bell will lower the pitch somewhat), so after the trunk used to be glued up, I took it outdoors and played accurate the trunk. I primitive a digital tuner and found the trunk itself played a G! In expose it stood the horn is most efficient one step high with accurate the trunk. This made me apprehensive, as making the tune lower would require adding length which I will now not perform. After I connect the bell, I will play it again and hope that the addition of the bell lowers the final pitch by a now not lower than a complete trace.
Successfully, I related the bell and it made the Alphorn one fleshy trace lower in pitch, I was very entirely cheerful for this. I trimmed an scramble (2.54cm) to procure it to an F.
Digital tuner apps will be downloaded free of fee to your phone, or one can rob a digital tuner from a music store, or one might perhaps perchance utilize a pitch-pipe or a tuning fork to compose the pitch of F. I primitive an app that I already had on my phone. Listed right here are the disguise captures from three octaves of F on my Alphorn (from high F to low F). The lowest F is somewhat low.
The Mouthpiece-Discontinuance-Ring, the Foot, and Wrapping the Alphorn with Rattan
Dumb out the ring the utilize of the drill press, the most efficient drill bit I had that used to be shut in dimension to what I wished used to be a spade bit….now not the most efficient drill bit for this sort of lower in a little bit of hardwood, but it be what I had. I was now not lower than interesting, and it worked.
The gap from the drill-bit used to be too little, so I primitive somewhat of drum sander chucked in the drill press to make higher the ID to suit the Alpenhorn. I made up my ideas I wished this ring to be about 75mm (3″) down from the inlet pause of the horn, which is somewhat farther down that shown on my drawing.
Subsequent, I primitive a bandsaw to trim the OD of the ring to about 44mm. I forgot to procure a characterize of that step.
The foot of the Alphorn
The Alphorn is fitted with a little foot on the bottom of the bell, which lifts the horn out of the grass to guard the bell and be obvious the sound can exit the horn unobstructed from low floor quilt.
Wrapping the Alphorn with Wood Reed
I will wrap the trunk of my Alphorn with 1/4″ half oval basket reed. This fibrous cloth is extremely procure in rigidity. Many elements of constructing an alphorn were recent for me, including this wrapping step. It took primary longer that I expected; retaining the joints nice and tight avoided me from accurate spinning the trunk quick, and just a few, many reeds and clamping used to be wished, as every reed most efficient gets about 4-10″ of protection down the barrel of the Alphorn.
I started wrapping the Alphorn trunk at the mouthpiece pause, accurate down from the hardwood ring. Witness where the wrapping accurate begins on the left that I carved a protracted taper into the reed to originate the wrap. I glued and clamped this down with a spring clamp and began wrapping. I watered down Titebond III glue utilized it to the OD with a toothbrush ahead of wrapping on the rattan. I utilized about 5” of glue at a time. I compose now not need messy blobs of glue squeezing out onto the OD of these wraps, It’d be a nightmare to are attempting an sand the outdoors of these wraps while striking ahead their twisted profile. The watered down glue has worked generous.
Here’s a characterize of a 14 foot (430cm) length of reed wrapped around the slim pause of the Alpenhorn. Because the diameter gets elevated the horizontal protection of every length of rattan will decrease. One learns many issues constructing an Alphorn, and a sort of issues is correct what number of splices of reed wrapping it takes to wrap an Alphorn.
For the splice I taper down the reed from the head of the reed to the bottom on both pieces to be joined, then I utilize Titebond III (now not watered down for the 1st scramble of the wrap, and clamp the splice joint for an hour sooner than unclamping. Within the heart of this characterize it is seemingly you’ll perhaps perchance even see a splice of the reeds. There will be more of these than I thought, as every reed most efficient gets you 6-10″ of distance along the horn length. I’m locating the total splice joints on the bottom of the Alphorn trunk.
I seen some horns with a short share of wrapping on the little pause of the bell, and I cherished the look of that, so I did that. The spring clamps at the bottom of the image are now not being primitive to clamp the walnut flanges collectively, they are being primitive to press the slim innovative of tapered rattan wrapping against the trunk to preserve it from transferring. I positioned the pause of the wrapping on the bottom of the bell where that is presumably now not seen.
Varnishing the Alphorn
The exterior of the Alphorn will be varnished, along with the interior of the bell as a ways as I will attain. The ID of the bore will be soaked with Danish Oil later.
- I did I final sanding of the Alpenhorn ahead of organising utilize of finishes.
- First , II cleared out the total rental and cleared off the desk high. Then I blew out the bore of the alphorn with an air-compressor
- Then I brushed off the desk and swept the ground.
- With all that dirt kicked up into the air I waited half and hour for it to resolve and came motivate and vacuumed off the desk high and the alphorn itself, including as a ways into the bell as I might perhaps perchance attain.
I sanded the Alphorn frivolously, after which vacuumed the dirt away, between coats.
Checklist an Alphorn Bell
Checklist onto bare wood will be messy, and the paint can wick into the wood beyond where the painter wants the paint to head. I started painting the bell after four coats of varnish, and after painting I will apply extra coats of varnish over the paint.
When I’m performed painting the bell, I will apply two more coats of spar varnish.
Oiling the interior of the Alpenhorn
I flooded the interior of the Alphorn with penetrating wood oil. The aim is to guard the interior of the horn from moisture.
Here the Alphorn has been full of 1 gallon penetrating wood oil. I grew to vary into the horn over and sloshed the oil all around interior. 1 gallon is now not ample to truly have the horn so one wants to rotate it around in expose to procure lawful interior protection. I then removed the bung and poured the oil out the mouthpiece pause.
Photos of the Performed Alphorn
The 2nd Alphorn Form Log is below, but first, investigate cross-test this 3D printed Alphorn pin! The .STL file might perhaps perchance fair be found on my
Form Log 2 of two: Making an Alphorn from Usual Tidy/Pine/Fir Construction Slide
Alphorns were originally devices of working farmers. These were now not the high-foreheaddevices played in royal chambers or nationwide opera homes (though they are now!, which is sizable). In this spirit, I place out to make a lower-worth alphorn from humble constructing scramble. My first alphorn is wrapped in wood reed and additionally can now not be disassembled. I’m constructing this pine alphorn with the intent of organising a delicate-weight and conveyable Alphorn, so I will now not wrap it and I will chop it into segments that will seemingly be disassembled for transportation.
This alphorn will be built the utilize of similar constructing strategies, and to the a similar dimensions, as the Alphorn above. In mild of that, I will now not reproduction the total detail in the form log above. This 2nd form log will be shorter and have to most efficient encompass detail on recent constructing little print such as the segment joints.
RAW MATERIALS FOR THIS ALPHORN: I will utilize “SPF” constructing scramble for this form. This stands for “Tidy Pine or Fir” and have to be any of these woods. These are constructing scramble and have confidence a knots. I took time and picked the very most efficient boards I might perhaps perchance procure in the pile. The 2×4 and 2×6 at the shop were pine and the 2x10s were fir. This scramble worth $59.00 including tax.
I lower the staves blanks with the grain in ideas, to prevent up with staves with as vertical a grain as that it is seemingly you’ll perhaps perchance be have confidence. Orient your cuts to preserve out this. Here it is seemingly you’ll perhaps perchance even see that I got a decently vertical grain, though in the stave on the bottom the grain is now not as lawful. I procure that the final couple inches of the birdsmouth lower can waver somewhat, and these injurious birdsmouth ends will be seen on this characterize. I lower of somewhat of both ends off when cutting the stave to length to bewitch away these injurious ends.
Glued up birdsmouth joinery Alphorn trunk. This characterize is deceiving I as there might be de facto more taper to the trunk than what looks in the characterize, right here is because of the the little pause being so shut to the camera making it look higher, vs the gargantuan pause which is a ways-off making it look smaller. The pieces went collectively well. It is continuously a messy affair assembling these and it is a ways complicated. Be determined and work deliberately and compose now not quit if the pieces flop and drop around. I did this solo, but if it is a ways your first time assembling one, that it is seemingly you’ll have confidence the merit of a 2nd particular person serving to. It is somewhat hectic as the glue is drying. I started at the gargantuan pause, got the joints in internet site, quick threw on a zipper tie, after which worked my scheme down to the skinny pause with a zipper tie every foot. Then I came motivate and added extra zip ties every 6 inches.
I planed down either facet of every 2×10 on my floor planer to flatten out the constructing scramble. There might be most efficient somewhat of that will seemingly be planed off sooner than the pieces will procure too skinny to make the fleshy OD of the bell, but planing them will motivate flatted them out for a lawful glue bond. This image is after planing, and additionally after I sketched the belief-peep shape of the bell onto the pieces.
November 2022 update: I took a three hundred and sixty five days and a half off of working on this challenge, but I’m motivate at it!!! Started carving the bell final month and right now time got it glued up.
Subsequent I primitive epoxy glue to glue procure Hickory flanges around the outer diameters of the bell and adjacent trunk fragment. As soon as these cured, I then glued them collectively to connect the bell to the trunk.
The correct technique to tune an Alphorn!
The correct technique to tune an Alphorn:
1. Form the Alphorn somewhat too long
2. Ranking a tuner and tune it to F or F# looking to your desire, by fastidiously cutting the the mouthpiece pause of the horn shorter and shorter till it is a ways in tune. Shortening the horn brings the pitch elevated. The final discover technique to lower the pitch is to make the horn longer, which is exhausting to preserve out, so be cautious with this step.
Final Finishes to My Second Alphorn:
I revel in
, and in doing so, I learned how one can plait broomcorn stalks, that are truly a sorghum stalks onto broom handles. I thought this is in a position to perhaps perchance be a nice technique to toughen and perform the mouthpiece pause of this rustic fashion Alphorn. The sorghum is woven on the utilize of high tensile strength tarred monetary institution line, so this have to provide lawful reinforcement additionally, brooding about there are now not any hardwood ends or wraps on my 2nd Alphorn.