How to Make a Blue Man Drum

Timothy Burns

The Blue Man Group is an entertaining percussion group performing in major cities around the country. The Blue Man Group is known for its unique drums and innovative performances.

The Blue Man Group make entertaining instruments from common PVC plumbing pipes and fittings.

The group's founders are able to make percussion instruments out of common household items, or evolve traditional drums into an intriguing percussion presentation of light and sound. Some of their instruments can be manufactured at home out of everyday items. The Blue Man Group has created many drums out of PVC plumbing pipes.

  1. Cut 10 lengths of 2” PVC pipe. Each length should be approximately 2" shorter than the previous piece. Start with a piece 36” long, the final piece will be 16” long. Cut off one end of the pipe square, at a 90 degree angle, and the other end of each pipe at a 45 degree beveled angle.

  2. Glue the 2” PVC couplings to the flush cut end of the pipes. Set aside and allow the fittings to dry.

  3. Cut (10) 2” holes into the 3/4” plywood with the hole saw. Arrange the holes across the plywood so as not to compromise the strength of the plywood. This piece will form the framework for the PVC drum.

  4. Insert the plumbing pipes into the holes, and arrange the lengths so that the pipes progress from longest to shortest, from left to right. Insert the pipes so that they slide through the holes, and the 2 inch couplings support the pipe, preventing it from sliding all the way through the plywood.

  5. Place the plywood so that each end rests on a 55 gallon drum. Once the plywood is supported, use the silicone caulk, and caulk the plumbing pipes into place. The pipes should not move when the drum is played.

  6. Strike the top ends of the PVC plumbing pipes within the closed cell rubber mallets. Each pipe will make a different sound because each pipe resonates based on its length. By resting the pipe frame on the 55 gallon drums, the drums will pick up and slightly amplify the sounds. The barrels can also be struck to create accenting, deep musical notes during a performance.

  7. Tip

    When cutting the lengths of PVC pipe, experiment with different lengths. Each pipe will create a different sound based on its length. Shorter pipes will make a higher note, while longer pipes will play a lower note.