Monday, July 25, 2016

New marimba builders!

The world now has 2 NEW marimba builders! Meet Juel and Tanya Iwaasa, two delightful and skilled music educators from Wenatchee, Washington.

For April's 3-day weekend marimba building workshop we completed a 2 octave Alto marimba (now for sale) and a standard Minnie M for Tanya to take home. A very productive weekend!

Juel and Tanya Iwaasa, Minnie M, Alto

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.

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!

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

Sorry, currently nothing is available for sale!

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: