Want to learn the marimba but don’t have a spare $2k+ to buy the instrument? TM reader and Wisconsin music teacher Paul Okray managed to put five together for no more than $200. Granted, he did his homework finding a local jewelery box maker who cut him an incredible deal on the African padauk wood he used for the bars. But even without his contacts you should be able to turn out a playable instrument for under $250 with a little time and effort.
Paul says he didn’t need any far-out tools to finish the job, just normal shop fare like a miter saw, drill, random-orbit sander (for finishing), drum sander (for tuning), and various hand tools. His website details most of the process — except the resonator pipes, which he makes from cost-effective PVC — and I’d be willing to bet that Paul would offer some free advice if you ask nicely. Lessons, however, might set you back a few bucks.
Personally, this is on my winter project list.
Paul Okray’s Marimba Site [Personal]