A 3D printed thumb piano

There have been discussions of 3D printing musical instruments at Splatspace for a few months now, and one of our members, Jeff Crews, has taken the first step to build one.

You may have heard of thumb piano before. It’s an instrument of African origin, that is played by plucking at metal (or other material) tines connected to a resonating chamber. It’s a relatively simple instrument in terms of construction, so it’s ideal as an instrument to print.

Thumb Piano

Crews printed the body in two stages, first the top portion with the fretboard, and then the bottom to create a resonating chamber. He used a simple piezo electric sensor to capture the vibration of the instrument to play on an amplifier. The tines are made from old saw blades.

Here’s another member, Bill Culverhouse, demonstrating the thumb piano in action: