c.2013 Kazoo-Bugles

Update: click here to go to a blog post with a sound clip for these guys.

I've been listening to a lot of fun 20s and 30s jug bands (and silly pseudo-jazz bands like the Mound City Blue Blowers) again and got to thinking about ways to make a kazoo socially acceptable outside of simple camp acts. Our kiddos love them and I don't mind humming around on them at all when the mood strikes me.

So... I bought a pair of down-on-their-luck bugles missing their mouthpieces on fleaBay for $20 and my Dad and I did some quick stitching-together of them into amplified kazoos on Xmas Eve.

The result? Awesome -- if you like this sort of thing, anyway!

We put together two of them and they're a bit different. Obviously, the all-brass bugle was of a cheaper make, though it turned out to be a bit louder and more brash (better for a trumpet-y sound on high notes) while the copper/brass one (stamped "India") is a bit heavier and better quality and has a mellower, trombone sort of sound on the lower notes.

We haven't cleaned up the quick solder and JB Weld job yet, but here's why these instruments are unusual compared to vintage "zobos" (a similar idea) and modern "kazobos": it's because the resonator "tower" (where all the sound on a kazoo comes from) is directly hooked-up to the tubing rather than the "exhale" part of the tube (the longer, smaller-opening part of the kazoo's air chamber).

This makes all the difference because it's the resonator's direct sound running through the bugle which then in turn gets much mellowed- and warmed-up by all that length of metal tubing. The resulting sound is a ton more pleasant than your average nasal-sounding, raspy kazoo. It's not like "instant trumpet" but it is more like something in-between.

When I recover a bit from my current sore throat I'll record some sound clips.

If you're thinking of doing something like this for yourself -- note that we used JB Weld to mate the kazoo to the added copper plumbing section (which replaced the mouthpiece) because if you soldered the kazoo to the tubing you'd melt the resonator membrane on the kazoo! Hence the need for an epoxy-like substance to be used. It's also important not to get any of that epoxy on the membrane, too!


Unknown said…
Looking forward to hearing these.