Ever dream of starting a family band? Before you invest in real instruments, maybe take a stab at DIYing some of these super fun homemade versions first. Handmade musical instruments not only make a great craft project to do with your kids — while keeping whiney boredom at bay — they also give everyone an inexpensive way to test drive a little bit of everything.
We’ve gone ahead and compiled over 20 of our favorite homemade instruments. Don’t worry, if drums and kazoos sound like your special kind of hell, we got ideas for a sweet tissue box guitar and jingle bracelets, too.
1. Straw Harmonica
You can channel your inner-Bob Dylan with this simple DIY harmonica.
2. Sensory Bin Shakers
A drummer is nothing without his shakers. They add that soft background rhythm you often need in more mellow songs. Why not hand make some shakers that double as sensory bins?
3. Can Drums
Sure, you’ve probably used a can-and-string phone before, but what about some soup cans for drums? It’s an easy, homemade instrument to help keep the rhythm in your family band.
4. Shoe Box or Tissue Box Guitar
How many times did you make a DIY guitar out of a shoe box or tissue box while in school? Chances are, you’ve been out of school a while, though, and could use a refresher.
5. Paper Plate Tambourine
You know who plays a mean tambo? You. If you use this easy tambourine tutorial that might bring back memories of first grade art or music class.
6. Cardboard Kazoo
It won’t exactly break the bank to buy a kazoo, but that kind of defeats the purpose, no? This DIY kazoo made from a cardboard tube is the perfect addition to an arts and crafts week full of musical instruments.
7. Mini Mando
Love the sweet sounds of a mandolin but can’t afford the real thing? This quick embroidery hoop version will accomplish nearly the same thing, except you won’t feel guilty if you decide to trash it on-stage.
8. Wet and Wild Xylophone
Glasses of varying amounts of colorful water? It’s an oldie but a goodie and definitely one of the easiest of the handmade instruments.
9. Jingle Bell Bracelet and Anklet
Wanna make sure noise is being made no matter what? These homemade wearable instruments will keep your littles jingle-janglin’ all day.
10. Spin Drums
These may be small, but they pack some serious punch. As far as DIY instruments go, spin drums can be some of the loudest.
11. Playgound Xylophone
For something homemade that looks like a xylophone but has a sound all its own, try this more durable option. It’s perfect for an outdoor music station!
12. Bottle Top Castanets
If you have enough people, these homemade castanets will help someone channel their inner flamenco dancer.
13. Homemade Rainstick
Remember when the Discovery Zone Store used to sell big, fancy rainsticks for a zillion dollars? (Everything costs a zillion bucks when you’re eight.) It’s way cheaper just to make your own Rainstick.
14. Jazzy Cardboard Trumpet
Even brass instruments are fair game when you’re going full-DIY. This super cute trumpet sounds pretty close to the real thing.
15. Chicken In A Cup
Need to add some semi-realistic sound effects for your band’s next song? This super simple DIY noise machine might be just what you’re looking for.
16. Easter Egg Maracas
If you’re looking to add a Spanish influence, look no further. Maracas are incredibly easy to make.
17. Hand Cymbals
What are drums without cymbals, right? Lucky for you, Mom, they don’t make the same big sound as real cymbals.
18. Paper Plate Banjo
Did you know that the original banjos were made from gourds? That sounds expensive… and stinky. This paper plate option will do in a pinch and draw less flies.
19. DIY French Horn
This sucker might sound more like a tuba than a French horn, but it’s still pretty awesome.
20. Drum Quads
Need another reason to binge on Pringles? What about a kiddo who is dying to be like their older sibling and join the marching band? This DIY quad set will have them doing laps in the yard just like the big kids.
21. Another Harmonica
For a more intense crafting time but also a much better sounding handmade harmonica, it’s time to break out the Popsicle sticks.
22. Wash Tub Bass
True story: This is an actual instrument that many Bluegrass bands used in the old days and some Bluegrass revivalists still attempt to make and use. Wash tub basses are easy to make, but definitely require a taller person to play.