Saturday, July 22, 2017

For Sale Now

For Sale Now

Here's what I have for sale at the moment. Goin' fast (I hope)!

Contact me at bournemarimbas@gmail.com

Two Minnie M, two octaves starting at middle C. $400 each


Two Tenor Marimbas, two octaves starting an octave below middle C. $1100


Three Soprano Marimbas, two octaves starting at middle C. $900 each

Monday, January 23, 2017

Three Marimba Building Workshops for 2017

May 5-7                         July 29-31                  October 7-9
Friday through Sunday                   Saturday through Monday                    Saturday through Monday
   

Here's the product of a recent workshop, donated to
Custer Elementary School, Ferndale, WA

Weekend class with marimba builder Tom Bourne

Where: Bourne Marimbas in Bellingham, Washington USA

Cost: $400 - or $200 if any attendee purchases the instrument we build

As with our previous classes, we will build a complete marimba from start to finish.

Learn everything you need to know about building marimbas for your local school or marimba band. Since 1995, Tom Bourne has built over 1500 marimbas of all sizes for schools and invites you to his shop to share his knowledge.

Bellingham, Washington is located just south of the Canadian border between Seattle and Vancouver B.C. It is near all kinds of great activities on the water and in the mountains. Bellingham has a modern airport with direct flights to Denver, Las Vegas and other cities in the western USA.

This class is suitable for adults and teens who can use, or are willing to learn to use, a few basic power tools and hand tools safely. 

I can provide suggestions in procuring lodging in Bellingham, many options available.

Class limited to 7.

See below at this blog for info on previous sessions.
To sign up or for further questions, contact Tom at:

Monday, July 25, 2016

Seven new marimba builders!

The world now has seven more marimba builders! We had a great workshop last weekend and were super productive, building 2 full marimbas that will be going to a local school in need.

One more summer workshop coming up this weekend, with a couple spots still available if you want to cool off in Bellingham, WA.

with Roger, Holly, Keith, Maria, Jordan, Frank and Kristy
We purposely made the low-riding soprano with a mish-mash of different wood pieces found in my shop - cherry, padauk, purpleheart, mahoganies... With buzzers, it sounds very consistent across the scale - as good a sound as any soprano I've made. And fully integrated, you could say.



Thirsty? How about a sip of Cool Water!

video

Thursday, May 5, 2016

A Note to Customers

I have decided to stop booking orders for the foreseeable future. 


I simply have too many (very patient!) customers backordered for too long on a timetable that, due to my health issues, is too uncertain. My goal right now is to take a few months and clear through the backorders, then assess where I'm at physically, monetarily etc. 

One thing I will continue to do is offer the 3 day building workshops to get more folks building, and taking that event on the road for workshop visitations. That's what's really needed right now - more builders! I'm offering two workshops this summer in Bellingham: on the weekends of July 21 and July 28. (filling fast!)

Thanks for your support - current customers should know that any orders I have on my calendar are still in my plans.

For new orders, here are 4 fine builders in the Northwest I can recommend. These marimba makers all have many instruments in the schools and communities. Check them out and give them a contact!

Mark Burdon at:

Byron Wylie at:

Eric Orem at

Peter Bush at:

And as always, Tom's Mallets are available through West Music!


Tom  Bourne

Thursday, April 28, 2016

See what Custer Elementary School is up to with our Workshop marimbas!



video

Thanks to Grace Smith of Custer Elementary School in Ferndale, WA for submitting, 
and for your good work here!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

For Sale Now!

For Sale Now

Here's what I have for sale at the moment. Goin' fast (I hope)!


Two Minnie M, two octaves starting at middle C. $400 each


Two Tenor Marimbas, two octaves starting an octave below middle C. $1100


Three Soprano Marimbas, two octaves starting at middle C. $900 each


Friday, February 19, 2016

Big Bass Tilted

I've built a few of these tilting big basses over the years.



Note how the resonator tubes are situated higher above the frame to bring them closer to the slanted bars. You can scallop off the rim of a tube if you want to get it closer yet to the bar, long as you get the tube's tuning right. And now, with those tubes raised to capture the good vibrations, there's space below the longest tube to lower the instrument a few inches, such that....



..... one may not need a riser to play! I'd say this is still kind of high for anyone under maybe 5' 10" altitude, but now you can use a lower riser. Lower center of gravity for the entire instrument makes it a solid, moveable unit.

It's kind of a challenge to get all the dimensions, and of course an additional rail for the raised back end must be fabricated and attached:



But the biggest challenge for me: How to play those bars with requisite enthusiasm without bonking them off the instrument? No problem with the traditional system of suspending cord threaded through a hole drilled into the bar. But my system of suspending bars on a hefty cord and restraining them with a lighter gauge cord (which allows for bar removal and swapping in F# and Bb bars) isn't enough to counter gravity here. Solution required...



... and here it is. A patch of rubber screwed over the bar channels. Now the bar will stay in place. As with all big instruments, resting the bars on a bed of foam (snake insulation available in hardware stores) minimizes cord wear and tear.



The jury was out as to whether this radically tilted design could stand extended use. But the customer really likes it and after several years there are no complaints.

Monday, January 18, 2016

July 2016 Workshop

Next Marimba Building Workshop - July 22-24

The world needs MORE marimba builders! So, the weekend of July 22-24, that's the date for my next marimba building workshop in Bellingham.

As with our last workshop, we will build a complete marimba start to finish for donation it to a needy school.

Extra added bonus: I've scheduled this workshop for the weekend preceding Walt Hampton's July 25-29 edition of Hot Marimba offered through World Music Drumming and taking place in Bellingham, WA. Soooo.... one could attend my 3 day building workshop, then spend the following week making music with Walt or one of the other nationally renown teachers in the WMD school curriculum - all while grooving on the grooviness (and tolerable summertime temps) of beautiful Bellingham Washington, USA.


Here's the product of our last workshop, donated to
Custer Elementary School, Ferndale, WA

Weekend class with marimba builder Tom Bourne

Where: Bourne Marimbas in Bellingham, Washington USA

Cost: $400, plus your accommodation and food

Learn everything you need to know about building marimbas for your local school or marimba band. Since 1995, Tom Bourne has built over 1500 marimbas of all sizes for schools and invites you to his shop to share his knowledge.

Bellingham, Washington is located just south of the Canadian border between Seattle and Vancouver B.C. It is near all kinds of great activities on the water and in the mountains. Bellingham has a modern airport with direct flights to Denver, Las Vegas and other cities in the western USA.

This class is suitable for adults and teens who can use, or are willing to learn to use, a few basic power tools and hand tools safely. 

I can provide suggestions in procuring lodging in Bellingham, many options available.

Class limited to 7.

See below at this blog for info on previous sessions.
To sign up or for further questions, contact Tom at:

Friday, July 17, 2015

Tom's Mallets now available through West Music




In order to give me more time for building marimbas I have asked West Music to be the SOLE outlet for Tom's Mallets. West Music is a major US music retailer and they specialize in working with music educators. So they can handle regular purchases, school P.O.s, whatever.

All my the regular mallets are available through West - Hard (red), Medium (green) and Soft (yellow), plus Tenor, Baritone and Bass mallets. Same mallets, new distribution!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Six New Marimba Builders

The world now has 6 new marimba builders following last weekends workshop.

Tom, David from NY, Dennis from WA, Karin from MN, Mark and Kris and Laura (not shown) from WA
This is as cool a marimba as has come out of my shop. Buzzes nicely too.
We all signed our masterpiece

Monday, June 15, 2015

Barb's New Marimba

Here's a great new marimba built by a Workshop Alum, Barb Durno. 
Check out the fine detailing and unique design!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Next Marimba Building Workshop, June 19-21

Weekend class with marimba builder Tom Bourne

Where: Bourne Marimbas in Bellingham, Washington USA

Cost: $300, plus your accommodation and food

Learn everything you need to know about building marimbas for your local school or marimba band. Since 1995, Tom Bourne has built around 1500 marimbas of all sizes for schools and invites you to his shop to share his knowledge.

We will focus on the fabrication and tuning of marimba bars, since that is the single most challenging aspect of making a marimba.

Also in the workshop we will explore the acoustics of marimba bars and resonators, along with ways of constructing and outfitting frames of all sizes. Discussions will include wood selection and various practical matters for builders, with plenty of time to address special concerns and gain experience with various woodworking tools. We can also discuss the possibilities for your marimba project, focusing on how to plan and design your instrument.

Bellingham, Washington is located just south of the Canadian border between Seattle and Vancouver B.C. It is near all kinds of great activities on the water and in the mountains. Bellingham has a modern airport with direct flights to Denver, Las Vegas and other cities in the western USA.

This class is suitable for adults and teens who can use, or are willing to learn to use, a few basic power tools and hand tools safely.  Helpful also is the ability to distinguish musicals pitches relative to one another (which of two tones is higher or lower, for instance). If you have any concerns regarding your qualifications, let me know and we can figure it out.

I can provide suggestions in procuring lodging in Bellingham, many options available.

Class limited to 7.

See below at this blog for info on previous sessions. Session by session, the world is getting MORE marimba builders!

To sign up or for further questions, contact Tom at:


Bournemarimbas@gmail.com

Zimma Rimba at TMEA, San Antonio, Texas


Here's some great music from Zimma Rimba, performing last weekend at the Texas Music Educator's Conference on their Bourne Marimabs (plus others). The piece at about minute 17 is my favorite.


Friday, January 23, 2015

The world now has 4 more marimba builders

Alice and dad Dale (Bothell, WA),
Nick (Portland, OR) and Dave (Anacortes, WA)





Stay tuned for the next edition of Tom's Marimba Building Workshop

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Next Marimba Building Workshop, MLK Weekend, January 17-19

Following Halloween weekend, the world has two more marimba builders! Music Ed titans David Reynolds (who crossed a continent to be here) and Dr. Randall Moore. Alum Barb Durno of Vancouver BC joined us for a refresher. Next marimba building class in Bellingham: MLK weekend in January.



Monday, November 3, 2014

Mind Your Own Buzziness!

If you grope in the dark long enough, you will eventually stumble upon an interesting thing or two. 

I have made over 100 bass marimbas, I’d say, and I put buzzers on the tubes of every one. On the higher pitched instruments, I supply buzzers if the customer wants them. So you would think that I have buzzers all figured out by now, and I almost do, but I have been a sloooow learner. 

In the last few years I began to notice that drilling a hole in a tube and covering it with a piece of thin plastic, or any kind of material, does indeed create the intended buzz, but it also seems to diminish the strength of that fundamental, lowest tone that the bar produces. So for instance if you have a bass C bar, two octaves below middle C, played into a properly tuned tube you will hear a real nice boomy resonant loooow C frequency as the main sound. Now drill a hole in the tube and cover it with plastic and you introduce a host of higher frequencies that are the cool buzz sound. BUT you simultaneously diminish the low boomy resonance you heard originally. I guess that energy that you’ve used to create the buzziness has to come from SOMEWHERE. 

You can test this by playing any buzzing note, then muting the buzzer and hitting it again - if the tube is properly tuned, there’s a good chance you will hear your note blossom in it’s basement as the buzz diminishes, like turning your tone controls on an amp away from high and boosting the low.

More buzz, less rich resonance. This is not an argument for no buzz, just a note that sometimes good things come at a price. Anyone who’s fiddled with their buzzers knows that there is a wide range of possible sounds, so with buzzers, perhaps we are looking for some optimal combination of buzz and lowness and amongst all the possibilities I'm learning it may be possible to get your buzz on without all of your bottom falling out.

The Science Of It All(?)

So the other day teacher and multi-talented fellow David Reynolds Jr. brought a spectrograph iPad app to my shop and we played around with buzzers. We confirmed what I have been hearing for a long time:

picture 1
Picture 1 is an F bass bar with my standard chintzy shopping bag plastic tape over a 1 1/4” hole in the tube. The spectrograph shows us the harmonic profile of the resulting sound, with that lowest frequency (the highest mountain on the left) peaking at -32 db. and a whole bunch of higher frequencies that are the various overtones and buzzing in the -60db and -42db range. So far so good, sounds OK.

picture 2
Picture 2 is the same setup with the buzzer choked off (by my dirty fingers!). Check the profile now, with the buzzing removed. The low F frequency is boosted to -16db, and the various overtones etc. are hovering between maybe -66db and -48db.

Seems pretty clear in an amateur scientist kind of way then that introducing a buzzer on a bass tube is also diminishing the main low tone - David’s spectrograph seems to have confirmed what I’ve been hearing.

One reason I like to put some kind of adjustment on the buzzers, like those big rubber bands you see in the pictures, is so you can dial in how much of the buzzy bits you want. Back in picture 1, muting the buzzer just a tad with the bands really improved the buzziness and length of the tone - a 1 1/4” hole with such thin plastic covering dissipates the energy of the sound way too fast otherwise.

Many Variables, Many Sounds

As you might imagine, there is a whole world of buzzy variations to be heard, depending on how big the hole is, how thin or thick the material is, how taughtly you’ve taped… 

Frinstance: in this case we are working with that 1 1/4” hole as the given. What effect might other kinds of plastic have on the sound? The same hole covered with some super cheap packing tape, which is by far the easiest kind of buzzer to apply and manage and sounds great on higher pitched instruments, gave us a bass buzz that wasn’t all that strong or interesting compared to the super thin shopping bag plastic. It’s just too thick for that size hole, and with a smaller hole on a bass, it will hardly buzz at all. But now, Walt Hampton’s basses, made by John Eichmann (sp?) utilize packing tape with a great buzziness and I’d like to know exactly how big those holes are….. Of course there are different thickness of packing tape too - maybe Walt has found the world’s truly chintziest Dollar Store with the truly chintziest packing tape - again, more variables.

My Current State of the Blart

Here is my personal buzzer breakthrough to report, complete with more visual proof. Ready? Getting a really cool buzz in my basses (but not the higher pitched instruments) now involves the following simple steps, take note:

1. Travel to Portugal, Lisbon specifically.
2. Visit a Merlins hardware outlet, they are the Portuguese version of Home Depot.
3. Buy something. Make sure they put whatever you bought in one of their big plastic bags. Say "Obrigado".
4. Whatever you do with what you bought, save the bag, bring it home with you and use it for your buzzer material.

Something about that Merlins plastic… it is thicker than the usual US cheap shopping bag but seems very pliable too. Check out the profiles for my Merlin Style Portuguese Buzzers:

Picture 3
Picture 3, with the hole choked, pretty similar to the choked hole in Picture 2 as you might except. The buzzer is muted and you get the predictable stronger, isolated fundamental pitch peaking between -16db and -12db.

Picture 4
Picture 4, with uninhibited buzz. Look, we’ve only lost maybe 4 db on the fundamental, and all those buzzes and harmonics ranging between -54 and -24, are stronger across the board than the buzzing in Picture 1 produced by the thinner American shopping bag.

The visual evidence was sure apparent to our ears. I really like the liveliness of ALL the sound coming from this Portuguese plastic. Dang, I only brought one such bag with me from my recent visit there. Please do not ask me for any. But I will be on the lookout Stateside for this bag material.

Audiologists and acousticians and sound engineers may detect that I am no scientist. No doubt my terminology is poorly applied here, but hopefully you can appreciate how many variables are at work with these simple buzzers. If you and your students do some experimenting with those holes in your marimba tubes, in all ranges, you can control the variables to your sonic advantage. Bottom line for all your buzzing marimbas: Mind Your Own Buzziness!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Crafting Your Marimba, Fall 2014 edition

The Fall edition of Crafting Your Marimba is set for the weekend of October 31 through Nov 2.

Weekend class with marimba builder Tom Bourne

Where: Bourne Marimbas in Bellingham, Washington USA

Cost: STILL only $250, plus your accommodation and food

Learn everything you need to know about building marimbas for your local school or marimba band. Since 1995, Tom Bourne has built around 1500 marimbas of all sizes for schools and invites you to his shop to share his knowledge.

We will focus on the fabrication and tuning of marimba bars, since that is the single most challenging aspect of making a marimba.

Also in the workshop we will explore the acoustics of marimba bars and resonators, along with ways of constructing and outfitting frames of all sizes. Discussions will include wood selection and various practical matters for builders, with plenty of time to address special concerns and gain experience with various woodworking tools. We can also discuss the possibilities for your marimba project, focusing on how to plan and design your instrument.

Bellingham, Washington is located just south of the Canadian border between Seattle and Vancouver B.C. It is near all kinds of great activities on the water and in the mountains. Bellingham has a modern airport with direct flights to Denver, Las Vegas and other cities in the western USA.

This class is suitable for adults and teens who can use, or are willing to learn to use, a few basic power tools and hand tools safely.  Helpful also is the ability to distinguish musicals pitches relative to one another (which of two tones is higher or lower, for instance). If you have any concerns regarding your qualifications, let me know and we can figure it out.

I can provide suggestions in procuring lodging in Bellingham, many options available.

Class limited to 6.

To sign up or for further questions, contact Tom at:


Bournemarimbas@gmail.com

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Re-designed Minne M

Here's a look at my updated Minne M. First one shipped today.



The most obvious change is that the bars curve, a bit like a balafon or gyil. With a new way of suspending the bars on rubber grommets instead of metal eyebolts, the ringiness and clarity of the notes is improved. Weeellll, I can't say that scientifically for sure yet, but the first two of these I've made sound better in that regard than my "classic" Minnie Ms.


My goal was to design this instrument so that there are NO metal parts. Success! There are NO metal parts in it! The five plywood components interlock with ears that insert through slots, held together with a few pins - not unlike the Amish style tressle dining table I build for us many years ago. 


If you look close you may see a couple of the rubber grommets I am using to suspend the bars, in place of the traditional eyebolts. The new Minnie M stacks one on top of the other, and stands upright with a small footprint for storage - just like the old ones.



Like all of my instruments, the bars are removable, so you can swap out F# and Bb bars. Or order your own scale and tuning. Now if I can just figure out how to make these instruments buzz....