Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Yaybahar Instrument Build

One of my favorite things about writing film music is creating evocative, unusual sounds that can enhance the movie. I'm always looking out for new instruments, especially acoustic instruments that can create sounds that are familiar without being instantly recognizable. I was super excited when my assistant found this video on vimeo:



This has huge potential for film scoring, and I wanted my own!

We decided it would be easiest to build the instrument in three separate pieces (the drums (resonators), the stringed portion, and the middle piece to hold everything in place once we attached the springs).

For the drums we used a 14'' and a 10'' frame drum. Having two different sizes, one connected to the drone string and one to the melody string, should give two different tones and a great stereo image when each was miked up. We attached the two drums on a block of wood by drilling holes in the bottom of each drum and using a power drill to bolt them tightly in place. We then placed small holes in the center of each drum and placed a tightly fitted bolt for the springs to attach on to.

Realizing the the tension from the springs might be too much for the screws to handle, we decide to use rope to pull back on the drums creating tension in the opposite direction. This allowed us to create as much tension as we wanted without the drums moving or falling off their base.




The next piece we built was the stringed portion. Once we had all the wood sanded and the body constructed. we coated the fretboard in polyurethane. After we figured out how the strings would sit on the instrument, we built a headstock out of a smaller piece of wood, drilling large holes to fit the tuners (we used electric bass tuners). We also used an electric bass bridge on the bottom end of the body to hold the strings in place.



We then needed to figure out a way to attach these two pieces so the instrument would be free standing. The idea was to build something that could be detached and nicely stored away in my studio.

We settled on the idea of using one long piece of wood to connect the drums to the stringed body. We bolted two steel levers to one end of the wood as a way for the body to fit nice and snug. Two holes were drilled in the bottom of the body so we could bolt it to the levers. This allowed us to tighten the body in place and then easily remove it for storage when were done. On the drums side, we connected two flat, narrow pieces of metal to each side of the drum base. We were then able to fit the middle portion between the two pieces of metal and then tie a rope around it to keep in in place.


                                    

Once we had the basis for our Yaybahar, we added a few "accessories" for make it more suitable for recording. First, we added a humbucker guitar pickup for amplification, which gives the instrument a nice full tone without too much noise, as an option to mix in from the microphones on the drum heads. Then we built a bridge out of a bent piece of metal to keep the springs resting on the strings without them sliding or moving around, and cut the spring in half to make it more convenient to attach and remove it from the bridge. Last, we gave the instrument frets using thin black zip ties, which makes it much easier to play.

         
           

The finished yaybahar sounds unreal and I love it! Here is a video, enjoy!



Parts we used:

spring: http://www.hometrainingtools.com/spring-helical-6-ft-long

remo thinline frame drums 10" and 14" - thinking of changing them to 16" and 14"

jazz bass bridge & tuners

steel cello strings

humbucker pickup

various wood





17 comments:

  1. how did you punch/drill your hole into the drum head?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Very impressive Ian. Borken Sen should be proud of your effort. I have also constructed a Bass Yahbahar, I call it "my string thing" to avoid any potential conflict with the originator. I also used the science project spring however I think a lighter gauge would provide greater natural delay and stronger reverberation. I also used remo hand drums and they have held up well. How can I send you a picture of my version? Can we compare notes on a finer level? Please contact me through Facebook John A Grant Conga John. Cheeers!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's great! I would love to see it. I looked for you on Facebook but couldn't find you, please look me up or email ihoffice@mac.com

      Delete
  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hey Ian,

    I just discovered the Yaybahar tonight and have been obsessed for the past couple hours, I would love to build it, somewhat understand the concept, but am wondering how did you attach the springs to the strings? Also, thanks for posting all of this! I was concerned id spend hours doing trial and error trying to recreate what he did haha

    Cheers,
    David

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi David, that was one of the toughest parts to figure out. We ended up constructing a "bridge" out of extremely thick metal wire (or thin solid tube). Using a wooden bridge didn't work because the springs would just pull the strings right off the bridge, but with the metal one wrapped around the neck, the springs pulled the bridge tight against the strings, which worked well. I will try to take some detail photos.

      Delete
    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    4. Hello Ian - Thanks a lot for this guide, it actually encouraged me to start the project after thinking about it for quite some time. I ordered similar springs in the internet and they are about to arrive. Can you eloborate how you attached them to the springs? I have to say i didnt really get how you did it.. A photo would be most helpful.. Looking forward for my Yaybahar and I hope yours gave you a lot of joy!

      Cheers, M

      Delete
  5. hi there, this is a great post thank you! could you explain something in the last photo where you are playing the instrument - there is a metal piece above the bridge piece and the join in the wood, that isn't in your description? is this a second bridge for some reason? many thanks! hannah

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Hannah, that is a guitar pickup! It is useful flavor to add to the sound, but I haven't found the perfect pickup for it. The single coil, which is pictured, is extremely noisy, I replaced it with a humbucker but that is a little too muted. Still thinking of other options..

      Delete
  6. Hi Ian,

    I'm very impressed about your instrument and trying to put together one of my own for a horror play instrumentation. What wood did you use on your yaybahar? We here in Finland mostly have pine, spruce and birch but I don't know, what would be the best option. I can get other types of wood too, but can take time.

    Best Regards
    Jussi Moilanen

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jussi, I actually can't remember, it may have been pine. It was whatever was easily available. I'm sure it makes a small difference, but since there's no wood body, the resonance is all in the drums and the springs, you should be fine with whatever you have.

      Delete
  7. wow, am also intrigued how the strings are mounted to bridge and springs, do you sell the whole yaybahar in kit form.., pls e'mail me aswell, altruismrecords@hotmail.co.uk .., Many Thanks, Paul..

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks for sharing this useful information. I am collecting more details about Concrete Testing Equipment Exporter If you have relevant data then kindly keep sharing.

    ReplyDelete