Adrian Bending
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How I made a strohfiedel

Huge thanks are due to Pete Woods of for his advice and guidance with this project. Without this I am sure mistakes would have been made resulting in a less successful instrument!


I salvaged some notes from an old Leedy xylophone where the frame had broken beyond repair. We believe the notes are Honduras Rosewood.  This wood could be 150 years old.  The xylophone was probably made before 1930 and the wood would likely have been stored for many decades before it was decided what to make with it.


The first job is to establish which notes go in which rows.



The positions are marked for the eyelets that take the string.


It is very important that the notes are kept parallel and equally spaced.


At this point the beech strips that the notes rest on can be fixed in position. Thanks to for supplying this excellent beech crucially cut precisely to size.


Originally the notes would have been laid on straw, but we figured rubber tubing would work just as well and be much easier to work with. The tubing is not mounted in a straight line because the holes drilled in the notes do not line up with each other. This is because the holes were drilled for mounting the notes in the modern piano keyboard layout and so they are not in the ideal positions for mounting the notes in this way.


Finally cutting the board to a more manageable size.


Sanding the edges and rounding the corners a little.


A couple of coats of varnish.


Cleaning the notes with white spirit. Water would soak into the wood and could cause problems.


Putting a tiny bit of wax on the notes helps this beautiful wood really shine!


The most time consuming and fiddly job; putting felt piano washers between all the notes and eyelets and stringing the entire instrument.


My strohfiedel is not a true copy because the instrument should have a few duplicate notes (see below). This is so that these important notes are available for both the left and right hands to play. A set of modern keyboard xylophone notes only has one of each note.



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