Windchime #1



Late 2006

Current Owner


Current Location

Mountain View, CA


colorply, 3/4" polished copper tubing, fishing line, brass wire


clear varathane


This was my first attempt at a tuned windchime. I actually went with a dominant 7th chord instead of the windchime classic pentatonic scale.

Being the first cut at this whole windchime thing, I did a few things differently than in later designs. Starting out, I wanted a chime that was nice and low pitched, so I made the initial chime as long as I could. I started with stock copper tubing from the hardware store (a good find) and some left over colorply that I had lying around.

First Cut Decisions

Anyway, I blazed ahead. While "wrong" is the incorrect term in this case, I did make some uninformed decisions in the design. The basic decision was to align all the chimes at the top ("top justified" if you will).

You'll note that the hang-point for each chime is at the very top. Upon further study, this is actually an anti-node of the vibration, and therefore it sees a lot of motion (which was initially causing some rattling in the brass wire that hangs the chime). Additionally, hanging at an anti-node effectively damps out the chime resonance a little bit (making it quieter and altering the pitch slightly). For clearer tone and longer resonance, you want to hange each chime from a node point (the point of least vibrational movement).

The second thing uninformed decision was to position the striker at some "random" height. Ideally, you want the striker to hit each chime at an antinode so as to impart the most energy possible.

As for tuning, and node/antinode calculations, striker size, feather distance, top plate size, how to hang the chimes... we'll cover more on that later.

Construction Notes

Having never worked with copper tubing in this sense, I found that (as purchased) it came with a light protective finish. The tubing was also stenciled with pressure and testing information. So, a little sanding/polishing/buffing was in order. In order to keep the copper from oxidizing immediately, I also applied a coat of clear varathane. Even though I wiped and cleaned the copper after the polishing, there must have been enough residual polishing compound (wax) remaining to interfere with the varthane bonding. (Note to self: use even more IPA in the future to insure cleanliness). Anyway, you'll see that over the years the varathane coating has begun to lift and the copper chimes are now oxidizing.

As for the colorply: I knew that this was not going to be UV stable in the outdoors. Sure enough, in spite of a light coating of varathane, some of the red color is bleaching out.

Regardless, the chimes still sound beautiful years down the road!

Windchime #1 Full Picture

View of top plate
Windchime #1 Closeup of Striker