Building a bell piano

...and how to do so...
82 posts since 10 Jun, 2013

Post Sat Jan 14, 2017 10:07 pm

Last edited by skytheguy on Fri Jun 08, 2018 9:38 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Beware the Quoth
27379 posts since 4 Sep, 2001 from R'lyeh Oceanic Amusement Park and Funfair

Re: Building a bell piano

Post Sun Jan 15, 2017 2:25 am

TBH, Im not sure if KVR is the best place to ask; the DIY here has mostly been electronic, very little mechnical stuff. I'd immediately point you at the site as a source of useful information on building unusual acoustic instruments.

I also found this; not sure if it helps your project except that there's constant references to source of info on piano design all through it that might be a useful jumping off point. ... -keyboard/

including a reference to this ... H.-Davies/

In terms of your actual question, it sounds pretty difficult to me. Details of key/hammer mechanisms can probably be found from old patent drawings but I honestly have no idea how your 'stops' would work...
I think you'd either be talking about moving the point where the hammer strikes to a different 'target' or having one hammer per target per per key, some of which are somehow mechanically disabled (disable the hammer or disable the target?). Both involve doing the same thing across all the keys in parallel, obviously.

If you were doing it electronically, with one actuator per target per key, that would reduce the mechanical complexity, but the actuators would get pretty expensive and could be noisy in and of themselves. I presume that's not how you want to go, though.
"The bearer of this signature is a genuine and authorised pope."

User avatar
Michael L
2801 posts since 25 Jan, 2014 from The End of The World as We Knowit

Re: Building a bell piano

Post Sun Jan 15, 2017 3:29 am

You could use pump organ chimes, a keyboard or organ glockenspiel, or a Photoplayer as a reference instrument. That last one made sound effects for silent movies, and there are some hilarious youtube videos. It used compressed air like an organ, with player piano rolls. I restored a player piano which was also pneumatic like an organ, and required great patience to ensure no noisy air leaks. Perhaps build a single prototype to see if you like working with compressed air!

Nowadays, many people are making DIY percussion instruments using Arduino controlling a solenoid, eg: ... botic-Drum TowerCarillon/ ... c-drummers
and insane stuff like:
And you have the money, you can buy one readymade.
He is a letter to everyone
You open it
It says Live

User avatar
1889 posts since 7 Jul, 2003 from Huntington, WV

Re: Building a bell piano

Post Sun Apr 23, 2017 10:54 am

Why do you need an upright piano action?

If you want to select the various types of bells like different organ stops, why not use an electrical musical keyboard (like an organ or synth keyboard) to control a group of solenoids that strike your various bells, instead of trying to build a mechanical piano action to strike the bells? Are you still working on this project?
I'm involved with photography & audio. For more info, take a look at my site:

Return to “DIY: Build it and they will come”