Design Decisions
Tubes, Pipes or Rods
The Build Plan
 Musical Notes & Chords
Note Selection
Caution at a Distance
Emulation Software
Building Big
Selecting the Metal
Not Created Equal
Precalculated Dimensions
DIY Calculators
Angle-Cut Tubing
Tuning the Chime
Frequency Measurement
 Chime Support
Chime Support
 Support Suggestions
Support Line
Disk, Hoop or Ring
Support Disk Calculator
Striker / Clapper
The Strike Zone
Shape, Weight & Material
 Wind Sail/Catcher
Traditional Sailing
Solving the Dingdong
Orthogonal Sailing
Windless Chimes
Tank Bells & Chimes
Tank Bells & Chimes
Decorating the Chime
 Science of Chiming
What is a Tubular Bell
Loudness Limits
Proportional Dimensions
Strike Note
 Overtone Structure
The Missing Fundamental
The Bell-Like Chime
Length Calculations (Math)
F A Q s
Visitor's Projects
Links & Sources
  While I provide this information at no charge, donations are greatly appreciated. Thank You !

Welcome to
Say it with CHIMES
By Lee Hite

Easy DIY Chimes
Design and Build
Tubular Bells from Tubes, Pipes or Rods

   Providing you with easy options for making good choices when designing and building tubular-bell wind chimes from tubes, pipes, or rods, is our number one goal. You can build according to a set of plans detailed below or you can design a chime set specific to your personality and style.

A variety of best practices, patterns and calculators are provided to accommodate your particular skill level, construction resources and  budget. Avoid the common mistakes often found in commercial chimes and you can easily construct a great sounding set of tubular bell chimes.

See Some Amazing DIY Chime Projects by Site Visitors

If you know what you want and just need dimensions and patterns, see Quick-Start below. If you're curious about some of the design considerations, read on further.

To help simplify your visit, the menu has been organized specific to each section of the chime set design. You can anticipate just a few decisions before you’re ready to begin construction.

There is a lot of information here, but don’t let it overwhelm you. Most of the information provides choices for making a design decision. You can build your first set just by using the DIY Plans below. 

How To Make Tubular Bell Wind Chimes (Step by Step)

Download theses helpful plans and patterns
   Tubular Wind Chime Design and Build Handbook          

Quick Start

DIY Plans, Videos, Files & How to Handbook
DIY Tubular Bell Chime Handbook 5.2 Meg, PDF  The Handbook duplicates the web site. Take it with you as a reference when you build the chime set, also included in the combo pack below.

Chime Build Combo Pack Zip, 12 Meg, Includes the Handbook, 13-calculators, support disk patterns, sail patterns and chime emulation software.

How to Build Wind Chimes – DIY Wind Chime Plans  1.5 Meg, PDF, A great sounding set of wind chimes can be built for about $15 to $40 depending on the chime set size you select. Choose from four height selections ranging from 36 to 75 inches (900-1900 mm). Add your creative touch by altering the material and style used for the top support disk, striker and wind sail.

DIY Happy Birthday or A Tune You Select - Chime Set 1.5 Meg, PDF, Surprise that special person or occasion with a song played on a set of chimes you've built. For about $30, materials are available from your local home improvement store. Keep the chime set for the next party/occasion or convert them into a set of hanging wind chimes.

How to make wind chimes video  using information from this website
by  Steve Ramsey at  Woodworking for Mere Mortals   


DIY Chime Length Calculators (Tubes & Rods – Inches or Millimeters)
Note: Each calculator has 10 sheets total, 2 calculators and 8 informational sheets in a single download.

The calculators require one of the following programs to view and execute:
For PC's, MS Excel TM Viewer Get it Here  (Free)
I use the free version of Docs to Go for mobile work: Androids etc. Docs To Go
 iPhone Docs To Go in the Apple store

Calculators are for: Aluminum, Brass, Copper, Cast Iron, Steel (EMT), Stainless Steel and Titanium

All Musical Notes DIY Chime Tube Calculator (A4=440) (Zip) (Most common)   Inches Version     Millimeters Version
(Use this to select notes for base A4= 440Hz) MS Excel TM

C9 Chord Chime Tube Calculator Zip, CEGBbD, 155 Kb   (Great for wind chimes)   Inches Version     Millimeters Version

Pentatonic Scale Chime Tube Calculator Zip, CDEGA,155 Kb  Inches Version     Millimeters Version

All Musical Notes DIY Chime Rod Calculator  Zip, 155 Kb    Inches Version  Millimeters Version

Support Disk Calculator Zip, 220K


Pre Calculated
Pre-calculated Chime Tube Dimensions  (A4=440, 75 choices, PDF)

Pre-calculated Chime Rod Dimensions  90 choices, PDF


Special Music Scales
All Musical Notes DIY Chime Tube Calculator (A4=432) (Zip)    Inches Version    Millimeters Version
(Use this to select notes for base 4A=32Hz)

All Musical Notes DIY Chime Tube Calculator (A4=444) (Zip)   Inches Version     Millimeters Version
(Use this to select notes for base A4=444Hz)


DIY Support, Striker & Sail Patterns
Wind Chime Support Disk & Striker Patterns  5.8Meg PDF, includes location markers for single point or dual point chime hang, 3-point or 4-point support disk hang, tube sizes from 1/2" to 2", size for both  a circular and a star striker, and generic patterns.

Wind Sail/Catcher Patterns  1.3 Meg, PDF

Chime Support Suggestions  Single point or dual point for a soft or rigid mount.

Striker Design Suggestions  Includes traditional and non-traditional strikers


Chime Emulation Software
Wind Chime Emulation Software  Zip, 105 Kb original Syntrillium program from 1996 {Excellent}

Wind Chime Designer Software  Zip, 370Kb by Greg Phillips + Instructions {Very good}
In the rare case when you want tuning with a 432 Hz base or a 444Hz base, use the charts below:  


DIY Calculator includes the following features:

> Calculates length and hang point for tubes or rods unrestricted at both ends.
> A ratio calculator to predict chime length form a known chime dimension and frequency.
> Look-up tables for standard size tubing
> Look-up table for material properties
> Standard Music Scale
> All dimensions calculated are based on OD, ID in inches or mm and specific material types.
> OD = outside dimension of tubing (inches or mm), ID = inside dimension of tubing (inches or mm)
> Material type = aluminum, brass, cast iron, copper, steel (EMT thin-wall conduit), stainless steel, titanium
> Note selection by frequency in Hz
> The calculator uses nominal values for material properties. However, if you know the exact material density and the exact
> Read about cautions here

Caution, these values allow you to get very close to the desired note (typically within 1%) but if you desire an exact note, cut slightly long and grind to the final length, but not usually required for wind chimes. Manufacturing dimensional tolerances may cause slight inaccuracies in the actual results, not to mention the effects of poor material handling along with slight variations in material properties and impurities. If in doubt, cut slightly long and grind to final values. You can measure the frequency for note verification using any number of software programs listed here.  Additional Must Read Caution Here:

Do not use these calculations for an orchestra or a musical setting unless you are certain they use A=440 Hz. An orchestra or symphony may brighten slightly and will typically tune for A=442, 43 or 44 The above chart uses A = 440 Hz. Most symphony grade instruments are shipped with A=442 Hz. While orchestra grade chimes typically do not go below the C5 octave, they are not tuned for the fundamental frequency, which is the basis for all the calculators on this website.  Instead,  they tune for the overtones  and depend on the brain's fuzzy logic to perceive the correct note. An orchestra chime that is tuned for C5 will typically be cut for a length around C2 and then hand tuned to become a perceived note of C5.

Tubes, Pipes or Rods

What's the difference between a pipe and a tube; the way it’s measured and its applied use. Pipes are passageways, tubes are for structural builds. For the purpose of tubular bell chimes, we consider them the same. The important parameters are the outside diameter, the inside diameter and the type of metal.

On the other hand, a rod is a solid metal cylinder that can produce a very different sound compared to a tube. The DIY calculators on this web site can predict the resonant frequency for a tube or a circular rod and their hang point location. If you want to design and build a chime set using rods rather than tubes all you have to do is set the inside diameter to zero and enter the outside diameter and type of metal into the DIY calculator.

If you are trying to decide between using a tube or a rod as the chime element, one important difference is the sustain time of the musical note. Typically, a rod will have a much longer sustain time, and in some environments, this maybe desirable but annoying in others.

Another difference between tubes and rods is their length for a given note. A rod is shorter than a tube to strike the same note, for the same metal.  For example, a 1" steel rod for middle C, (C4) is 26 1/4" while it is 32 7/8" for a 1" steel EMT tube. In addition to smooth surface metal rods, I have tested steel rebar and the sound was awesome. Because of the hardness, rebar exhibited a wonderful sustain time which helped to hold on to the overtones. I did not test the accuracy of the DIY calculator but I suspect it will be close. I would suggest selecting your notes based on steel, and while the notes probably will not be completely accurate, the ratio among the notes should remain the same.

An important issue to consider among various metals is the weight difference. The longer sustain time from using a rod may offset the increased support weight requirement caused by the rod.

The Build Plan
  1. Select the number of chimes (typically 3 to 8) for your set and the musical notes. It is helpful to understand the limitations for effective note selection as discussed in the section on the bell-like chime. Keep in mind the physical size for the set. Whether you use Pre-calculated dimensions or one of the DIY calculators, observe the length for the longest chime as a guide for overall size. Remember to include extra length for the wind sail that hangs below the chimes. Read this caution.

  2. Select the metal for the chime tube.

           Video for How to Make Tubular Bell Wind Chimes

  1. Cut each chime to the length provided by the Pre-calculated table or the DIY calculator. Best to cut slightly long (about 1/8”) to allow for smoothing and deburring the ends to final dimensions.

Tubing CutterIf you're new to cutting metal and looking for an easy method, I use an abrasive metal cutting saw blade in a radial arm saw and it works equally well with a cut-off saw aka chop-saw. The blade pictured right is under $5.00 at Home Depot. Make certain to use a cutting disk designed for the type of metal you plan to use. Using the wrong type of abrasive disk can cause a dangerous explosion The traditional tubing cutter or hacksaw works well also.

  1. Smooth the ends to remove sharp edges and to provide a professional appearance. Place an old towel or cloth on a table to protect the chime from scratches. Roll the chime back & forth as you file or sand the ends smooth. Slightly chamfer or round the outer edge.

  2. Drill the support holes at the hang-point location provided by the Pre-calculated table or the DIY calculator.

How to drill the support holes without a drill press or V block: Using card stock or a manila folder cut a strip about ½” by 8” or so, wrap it around the tube and tape it so that you now have what looks like a “Cigar Band”. Remove the band and lay it on a table. Flatten the band so a crease forms at both ends. Example: Let’s say that the instructions ask for a hole 10 ½” from the end of the tube. Slide the “Creased Cigar Band” down the tube to the 10 ½”.Position one crease at your mark and then rotate the tube over to the second crease and mark that location. The two holes will be opposing.

Deburr the support holes in preparation for whatever method you select for support.   First, using a round or half-round file, remove the burr from inside the tube. Finish the task by using a section of coat hanger wire with a small bend at the far end. Place the wire in a drill and insert the bent end thru the hole. As you rotate the wire, lightly pull back on the drill and the bent wire will bend over any inside burr.

Then using a drill bit larger than the hole, place the bit on the outside of the hole and rotate by hand. This is generally enough to chamfer the outside hole.

  1. Select the method or style for the top support disk or ring and select the material to be used.

  2. Select the top support disk cutout pattern for your specific tubing size and number of chimes in the set. Download the support disk & striker patterns from the web site and just print the page specific to your tubing size and number of chimes in the set. You may need to print two copies one for the support pattern and hole locations, and one for the striker.

  3. Select either a circular striker, a radial star striker, or a striker-keeper, all are included in the  Wind Chime Support Disk & Striker Patterns

  4. Select and print a pattern for the wind sail from selections in Patterns for Wind Sails/Catchers available on the web site, or design your own.

  5. Weather protect the top support disk or ring, the striker and the sail with a UV protective finish. Decorate the chime tube as desired. A few suggestions here.

  6. Select the line, cord or chain for supporting both the chime tube and the top support disk.

  7. Select the style for hanging the chime tubes, i.e. top aligned, center aligned or bottom aligned. Bottom aligned is best because it allows the striker to easily contact the end edge of all chimes, the ideal strike location. Top aligned may have a more aesthetic appeal and on occasion some like center alignment. All three locations work okay when you keep the striker away from the exact center dead zone for the first overtone, but, don't worry much about killing the first overtone with center placement. The first overtone dead zone is very narrow and easily overcome with a slightly off-center strike.

  8. Select the sequence for locating the chimes on the support disk or ring.

  9. Attach the support line or chain to the chime using a simple jig you can make.

  10. In your workshop, temporally hang the support disk or ring just above eye level. Depending on your alignment selection (top, bottom or center) hang each chime according to both the alignment requirement and the chime sequence diagram.  Or you can use an alignment jig as described here.

  11.  Hang the striker according to the alignment diagram and avoid striking exact dead center for any chime. All three locations work well when you keep the striker away from the center dead zone for the first overtone. Don't worry about killing the first overtone with center placement. The first overtone dead zone is very narrow and easily overcome with a slightly off-center strike.

Metal Tubing

Metal Rods

Metal Tanks

Always try your local building supply store. In addition to visiting the hardware section in these stores investigate tubing used for closet hanging poles, shower curtain poles, chain link fence rails and post. Yard or garage sales can yield surprising results, look for a discarded metal swing set, tubular shelving, etc. With permission look for discarded materials on constructions sites. Try your local metal recycler; they can yield very economical rod and tubing.

Online sources:

Amazon, eBay and the like can surprise you at times, offering small orders at good prices.

Speedy Metals accepts orders for small quantities of tubes or rods. (Aluminum, Brass, Cast Iron, Copper, Steel and Stainless)

Titanium Joe  (Tubing) Titanium is a silver color, low density and high strength metal that is highly resistant to corrosion in sea water, aqua regia and chlorine. You can use either grade 2 being pure titanium, which is softer and less popular, or grade 9 (3AL-2.5V),  which is the more popular high strength. The grade 9 numbers represent the percentage of Aluminum and Vanadium. The DIY Calculators work equally well for both grades.

Tanks bells can be crafted from out-of-service compressed gas/air tanks, scuba diving tanks or fire extinguishers. A most likely source can be your local testing facility for each type of tank. Ask your local fire department, welding shop and scuba diving shop for their recommendation for a testing company. You may be required to provide a letter to the testing company stating that you will cut the tank in pieces and render it unable to hold compressed air or gas.

Metal Hoops & Rings Try hobby stores for rings or hoops often used for dream catchers, mandelas or macrame. Some are chrome plated steel and others may require paint. Support rings can be cut from an out of service aluminum fire extinguisher using an abrasive metal cutting saw blade in a radial arm saw, a chop saw or a table saw as described in step 3 above.
Eyelets & Grommets Small eyelets can often be located at your local hobby store in the sewing department or a shoe repair store. You can also use the outer shell of a 1/8 inch or 3/16 inch aluminum pop rivet. Remove the nail-like center and use the rivet. Heat shrink tubing can be found at Radio Shack®.
Support Line
Thin braided wire or 1/32 to 1/16 inch stainless steel cable, or decorative chain that is zinc plated, brass plated, or painted can be located in hardware and home improvement stores. Try a hobby store for small aircraft control line cable.
Non Metallic
Support Line
Make sure the line is UV resistant. Choices include fishing line (both 80 pound (35 Kg) braided or 30-50 pound  (12-22 Kg) monofilament), braided nylon line, braided plumb line, braided Dacron kite line, venetian blind chord, string trimmer weed eater line (.065 inch), awning chord, and braided electrical conduit pull line.
Striker Material  A hockey puck, redwood, red cedar, red oak, treated lumber or a 1/4" nylon cutting board work well for large diameter chimes. Smaller diameter, higher frequency chimes benefit from a harder wood such as white oak, teak or Osage-orange (aka hedge-apple). Be sure to coat the striker with a UV resistant coating.

Musical Note Selection:

Wind Chime Musical Note SelectionDo you need to select musical notes? Not necessarily, unless you are looking for a specific sound. All you really need to do is support the chime tube at the correct location (22.4% from the end) to allow for the best possible sound from that tube or rod.

Say for example, you want a 5-chime set about 24 inches tall not including the sail. The best thing to do is test a 24-inch tube for a pleasing sound. First, look at the Pre-calculated tube length tables for your specific metal and chime size to learn where a 24-inch tube is positioned in the overall scale. As long as the note is above C2 and well below C5, you should be okay. Tie a slipknot in a string and position it at exactly 22.4% from one end. Multiply the tube length by .224 to locate the support location. Hold the chime with the string at the 22.4% point, strike the chime on the edge of the end with something that is medium-hard like a wood mallet, a wood cooking spoon or the hard rubber heel of a shoe. If you’re happy with the sound, then remove 2-inches from each succeeding chime, 22”, 20”, 18”, 16” and proceed to step 4 above. I arbitrarily used a 2-inch removal measurement and suggest not more than 3-inches between any two chimes. You can lengthen rather than shorten each successive chime for an overall increase in height as long as you remain in the suggested range from C2 to C5.

On the other hand, if you want a more coordinated sound (which I highly recommend) a safe choice by many wind chime suppliers has been the pentatonic scale (C D E G A). An enhancement to that scale can be the C9 Chord (C E G Bb & D) which has a wider note separation for a good sound both close in and at a distance from the chime.

With that in mind, we have DIY calculators for all musical notes or for specific scales such as the pentatonic or the C9 Chord. You select the metal and the tubing size (ID and OD) and the calculator will provide the correct length and hang point for each note. The longer the chime the lower the notes will sound. So if a specific tuning like Westminster  traditionally begins in the C3 octave, like B3-E4-F#4-G#4, feel free to begin an octave lower, like C2, which would look like this, B2-E3-F#3-G#3.

Note Selection Table
Name Notes Chimes
Westminster B3-E4-F#4-G#4 4
Pentatonic Scale C-D-E-G-A 5
C9 Chord C-E-G Bb- D 5
Whittington 4-E4-F#4-G4-A4-B4-C#5-D5 6
Canterbury D4-E4-F#4-G4-A4-B4 6
Trinity D4-G4-A4-B4-C5-D5 6
Winchester (or Wynchestre) C4-D4-E4-F4-G4-A4 6
St, Michael’s F4-G4-A4-Bb4-C5-D5-E5-F5 8
Happy Birthday C5-D-E-F-G-A-A#/Bb-B-C6 9

If you're not sure what notes to select and want to experiment, use the Wind Chime Emulation Designer software below. Caution, the loudspeaker connected to your computer has the ability to play the low notes from C2 to C4, but a chime will not reproduce those sounds..

Another resource to hear how a certain chime note may sound is presented by site visitor, Kyle Casey,  at Casey Music Service.  This is not an exact replica of what a chime would sound like, but will give a fairly good idea.

Another Must Read Caution: Ending your project with a successful and pleasing sound is important and setting the right expectations will allow that to happen. Selecting musical notes for a chime is NOT like selecting notes on a piano or other string instrument, or reed instrument. When you strike C2 on a piano that is indeed what you hear but Not true for a chime cut for C2.

Tuning implies exactness and exact tuning cannot happen when you do not hear the fundamental note for the chime. When a piano key for C2 (65.4 Hz) is struck, you will indeed hear that note, 65.4 Hz. When a C2 chime is struck you will NOT hear 65.2 Hz. In fact. you will not hear the first overtone at 180 Hz and can barely hear the second overtone at 352 Hz. Most prominent will be the third overtone at 582 Hz which, on a piano, sounds like D5, but isn't D5 because the mixing for all the overtones produces a completely new sound. The new sound is melodious, it sounds wonderful, but what note is it? Tuning charts on this site list dimensions for notes ranging from C1 to C9, that imply exactness, which you now understand can not happen with a chime when you can't hear the fundamental note. Read more about the missing fundamental here. Why this happens is discussed in the section "The Science of Chiming".

For example, an orchestra grade chime that is physically cut for C2 will actually sound about like C5. To see a visual representation for what a chime is apt to sound like, see this chart. On the other hand, will the strike note for a chime sound pleasing and bell-like? Yes, absolutely, because of the large complement of overtones, even though the fundamental is missing. Selections from about C2 to C4 sound the most bell-like but will not adequately radiate the fundamental tone.

Unfortunately this effect complicates note selection if you are trying to strike exact notes below about C5. Above C5 the strike note will actually be the fundamental and you can expect to hear the selected note, but less bell-like than the C2 to C4 range. In fact, for that reason, orchestra grade chimes typically only cover 1 ½ octaves beginning at C5 and extend to about G6.

Wind Chime Emulation SoftwareWind Chime Emulation Software  Zip, 105 Kb
Original Syntrillium program from 1996 {Excellent} Help instructions are HERE

Thanks to a site visitor for providing this excellent emulation program from 1996 by Syntrillium. They are now defunct and we believe the software is considered "freeware". The zip file contains the main program, the registration codes and a help file. Unzip the download and run the wind_chimes_1.01_syntrillium.exe file. The program is quite intuitive, full featured and should be easy to operate. To begin I would suggest you set-up the program as follows: Number of Chimes "5", Transpose to "0", Scale to "New Pentatonic", Base Note "C-4", "Center Pendulum". Remember, the loudspeaker connected to your computer has the ability to play the low notes from C2 to C4 but a chime may not radiate those sounds. The program was originally designed to run on DOS 6 using Windows 95, and also runs with Windows NT, W2000, W XP and W7 thru W10.

Chime Emulation Software A well designed freeware called Wind Chime Designer V2.0, 1997-2006, by Greg Phillips will emulate a chime for notes between A2 (110 Hz) thru B8 (7,902 Hz) in many different scales (82 in all). It will help you determine what notes sound pleasant on a chime and what scale to use. Wind Chime Designer Instructions PDF Remember, the loudspeaker connected to your computer has the ability to play the low notes from C2 to C4 but a chime may not radiate those sounds.

  1. Download the Zip file here Wind Chime Designer  
                                                  Zip, 370Kb by Greg Phillips (software + Instructions)

  2. Using right mouse, save to a folder of your choice
    Internet Explorer, select Save Target As
    Google Chrome, select Save Link As
    FireFox, select Save Link As
    Safari, select Download Linked File

  3. Click on "" to unzip the folder.
    (contains Chime32A.exe, TUNING.DAT, and Wind Chime Designer Instructions)

  4. Place all three files in a folder of your choice

  5. Click on Wind Chime Designer Instructions PDF, 200 Kb (also available here)

  6. Click on Chime32A.exe to run the program.

If you have trouble unzipping Greg's new version here are the two files you need. Chime32A.exe and TUNING.DAT Using right mouse, select Save Target As and save to a folder of your choice. Place both files in the same folder and run the .exe file.

Strike a note or strike a chord?
Over the years much effort, by many well-intentioned people, has been placed on exactly what is the best chord for a set of wind chimes? While a musical chord can be pleasing to the ear, the effort to simultaneously strike all the notes in a chord using the traditional circular shaped striker/clapper has been mostly a waste of time. The striker only contacts one, maybe two, chimes simultaneously. The good news is that with some of our innovative striker designs we can now strike a chord. More on this in the striker section. Also, if you dedicate a striker to each chime tube (internal or external to the chime) that configuration can ring several chimes at nearly the same time and approximate a chord.

When using the traditional round striker it is much better to select notes that have a fair amount of separation allowing the ear to easily discern a variety of notes. Often a traditional choice has been the pentatonic scale (C D E G & A.) This choice can sound pleasant close to the chime set but not so good at a distance. The C9 chord (C E G Bb & D) can be used to widen the note separations for a five-chime set. The problem at a distance is the ear has difficulty discerning the closely spaced notes of the pentatonic scale.

Caution at a distance I often hear the comment, "I have a set of chimes on my deck and they sound great. However, I was over to my neighbor’s the other day and the chimes did not sound so good. In fact, they sounded out of tune. Why is this? The answer lies in the conditions that make up the notes for the chime. As mentioned in the science section, a chime note is a combination of the fundamental strike frequency and the many overtones. Some of the overtones attenuate more rapidly than others at a distance. The original combination of strike frequency and overtones are not the same at a distance. Remember, not always does the fundamental frequency contribute to the note and not always are there many overtones for a given note.

The actual note depends on exactly where in the musical scale the chime is operating. When you have a chime that contains a larger number of overtones that are located in the higher frequencies, and mostly missing the fundamental, you can get this distance effect. High frequency sounds attenuate more quickly in the atmosphere than do the lower frequencies. At a distance you are not hearing the same sound you hear close in. Some of the high frequency sounds can be greatly attenuated or missing. The chime can sound completely different under these conditions. Typically this occurs when you select notes in the lower part of the scale.

If your interest is making the chimes sound good at a distance of say 80-100 feet or more, consider increasing the diameter of the tubing from the traditional sizes ranging from half inch thru two inches, up to at least 3 inch or more; 4 to 6 inches are better. A set of chimes designed for the C2 to the C3 octave have good acoustic radiation properties close to the set but not so good far away because of this distance effect. Additional information later on this page HERE.

Building Big!  Whether you want a set of large chimes, often used in the sound healing and therapy arts, or you just want a large set because of the anticipated lower frequency sounds, similar to a large diameter gong, building big may not accomplish all of your goals. Certainly, a set of long, large diameter chimes, as shown to the right (built by Chris from Wisconsin) will sound awesome, but a few words of caution before you head off in that direction.

Since you read the caution statement above about the missing fundamental and the issues with the small sound radiation surface area for a chime tube, you can better understand how the insensitivity of the human ear at low frequencies contributes to our inability to adequately hear the low notes, mostly below about C4. I am contacted often from the website when someone wants to Build Big.  After completion of their large chime set they write to say, "My new chime set sounds wonderful, but not as low as I expected."  Beginning with  the right expectations will help you move successfully along the design path. Large diameter long chime sets are definitely worth the effort. Be mindful of annoying nearby neighbors since this sound travels far.

Below is an attempt to demonstrate loudness and note selection at a distance.

Choice of Metal

Most often the chime designer considers cost, weight and aesthetics. Your budget may not approve the cost of copper and aluminum may be more favorable than steel because of weight. Chimes from EMT (electrical conduit) are galvanized and resist rust but not the support hole or the ends. Rust could be an issue long term for EMT. For the purposes of chime design use the steel selection in the calculator if you're EMT (thin wall conduit)..

Good source for tubing: Speedy Metals by the inch and no minimums for Aluminum, Brass, Copper, Cast Iron, Steel, and Stainless Steel, or Titanium Joe for titanium by the foot.

What metal sounds best? After the issues above are properly considered we can move to the question of what metal sounds best for a tubular chime? The short answer is the thicker the wall and the larger the diameter, the better they sound, not necessarily the type of metal. However, what sounds best is a personal choice and I have not found a good answer for everyone. Some like a deep rich sound and other like the tinkle tinkle sound. Copper chimes have a different timbre than steel chimes. The best I can advise is to visit a chime shop and test-drive a few chimes of different metals and different sizes.

When selecting tubing  size, if you’re on the fence between two sets of chimes, and one set has either a thicker wall or a larger diameter, select the tube with more mass, i.e. thicker wall and/or larger diameter. On small diameter chimes (1/2 to 1 1/4 inch) do not use a

You may hear someone say they like aluminum best or copper best. To better understand the difference in metals let’s properly build two 5-tube sets of chimes using the C9 chord beginning with the C2 octave. One set from aluminum, 2” OD with a 1/8” wall thickness, and the other set from steel, 2” OD with a 1/8” wall thickness. While each set will have different calculated lengths, they will both strike the same fundamental note, but sound completely differently. Why is that?

Contrary to intuition there are only two variables that control the sound of a chime, i.e. the density and  elasticity of the metal. Those two variables control the specific length dimensions to achieve a desired note for a given tubing size and wall thickness. From the chart at the right you can see that aluminum has the lowest density and the lowest modulus of elasticity (deforms easier than the others) , while copper has the highest density but is only midrange for elasticity.

What does all of this have to do with what metal sounds best? The differences among metals cause a difference in timbre for the same note.


Modulus of Elasticity

Lbm / in3

Aluminum 10,000,000 0.0980
Brass 17,000,000 0.3080
Cast Iron 13,400,000 0.2600
Copper 16,000,000 0.3226
Steel 30,000,000 0.2835
Stainless Steel  28,300,000 0.2830
Titanium 14,900,000 0.1630

On occasion you may hear someone say they like aluminum chimes best. That likely occurs because the lower modulus of elasticity for aluminum requires less strike energy for resonant activation and for a given input of strike energy. The aluminum chime can be louder and have an increased sustain time. However, the difference among metals does not make one metal good and another bad. There are no bad sounding chimes when the notes are properly selected, tubes are properly tuned and properly mounted. It's impossible to have a set of chimes for the same note range made from aluminum sound the same as a set made from steel or any other metal, because of their difference in density and elasticity.

If you want the smallest possible chime set for a given note range use brass. Opposite to brass, EMT will provide the largest physical set for a given note range. For example, see the table below organized smallest to largest for middle C (C4).

Length for a one inch diameter chime at middle C (C4) , smallest to largest.
Brass .065 wall Copper M Cast Iron Titanium .065 wall Aluminum .065 wall Aluminum .035 wall EMT
26 1/8" 27" 28 7/16" 29 1/8" 29 5/16" 30 7/16" 32 7/8"

Not all tubing is created equal: Be aware that some tubing may produce a  beating effect when struck (the wah-wah effect). Two closely spaced frequencies will interact to produce a third frequency. This is often due to variations in the cross section of the tubing caused by variations and inconsistencies in the manufacturing process. The elasticity and the density of the tubing will be different, depending on where the tube is struck. The tube can produce two closely spaced frequencies and these two frequencies will produce the beating effect. Some people enjoy this  effect and others may find it annoying. If you want to avoid this wah-wah effect, make sure you acquire high quality tubing – or test a small piece before buying in bulk. While some tubing may be considered poor quality for musical requirements, it may be just fine for structural needs. The problem with tubing that exhibits this effect is that it makes precise tuning more difficult.. Listen HERE (mp3) to the beating sound for the tube shown to the right.

If you know the exact material density and modulus of elasticity, enter those parameters into the DIY Calculator on the data page, when using the DIY calculator.

I want to emphasize that good tuning will certainly help to accurately produce the appropriate overtones for the selected note, particularly for the higher note ranges.

About Tubing Dimensions:

Aluminum and brass tubing tend to exactly follow their stated ID and OD dimensions while copper tubing does not.

Wall thickness for copper pipe varies with the pipe schedule. The four common schedules are named K (thick-walled), L (medium-walled), M (thin-wall), and DWV (drain/waste/vent - non-pressurized). The printing on the pipe is color coded for identification; K is Green, L is Blue, M is Red, and DWV is Yellow. Both type M & type L copper can be found in the plumbing section of home improvement stores like Home Depot and Lowe's.

Pre-calculated Lengths

Pre-calculated tube lengths for some common metals used in chimes are in the table below.
If you desire a size different than the pre-calculated tables, use the DIY Excel Calculator.

Pre-calculated Tube Length and Hang Point Dimensions [English & Metric] PDF
Requires a free PDF reader like
Adobe® or Foxit™
Wall Thickness in (inches)                           Click on a specific metal and size to download dimensions
                                                                        or the top row to download a family of dimensions
OD or
20 Gauge
18 Gauge
17 Gauge
16 Gauge
14 Gauge
Type L
Type M
Cast Iron
Sked 40
.50  Alum  Alum  Alum  Alum     Copper Copper Brass EMT  
.75  Alum  Alum  Alum  Alum  Alum   Copper Copper Brass EMT  
1.0  Alum  Alum  Alum  Alum  Alum   Copper Copper Brass EMT Cast
1.25  Alum  Alum  Alum  Alum  Alum   Copper Copper Brass EMT  
1.50  Alum  Alum  Alum  Alum  Alum  Alum Copper Copper Brass EMT Cast
1.75      Alum    Alum       Brass    
2.0    Alum    Alum  Alum  Alum Copper Copper Brass EMT Cast
2.25    Alum    Alum  Alum       Brass    
2.50        Alum  Alum  Alum Copper Copper   EMT Cast
3.00        Alum    Alum Copper Copper   EMT  

 Caution, these values allow you to get very close to the desired note (typically within 1%) but if you desire an exact note, cut slightly long and grind to the final length, but not required for wind chimes. Do not use these calculations for an orchestra or a musical setting unless you are certain they use A=440 Hz. An orchestra or symphony may brighten slightly and will typically tune for A=442, 43 or 44 The above chart uses A = 440 Hz. Most symphony grade instruments are shipped with A=442 Hz. Also, orchestra grade chimes typically do not go below the C5 octave. There are manufacturing dimensional tolerances that may cause slight inaccuracies in the actual results not to mention the effects of poor material handling, along with slight variations in material properties and impurities. If in doubt, cut slightly long and grind to final values. You can measure frequency for verification using any number of software programs listed here.

Below are actual dimensions for Type L & M Copper Tubing along with EMT dimensions

 Type L Copper Tubing .     Type M Copper Tubing
Actual OD
Actual ID
1/2 5/8 0.625 0.545 0.040   1/2 5/8 0.625 0.569 0.028
3/4 7/8 0.875 0.785 0.045   3/4 7/8 0.875 0.811 0.032
1 1 1/8 1.125 1.025 0.050   1 1 1/8 1.125 1.055 0.035
1 1/4 1 3/8 1.375 1.265 0.055   1 1/4 1 3/8 1.375 1.291 0.042
1 1/2 1 5/8 1.625 1.505 0.060   1 1/2 1 5/8 1.625 1.527 0.049
2 2 1/8 2.125 1.985 0.070   2 2 1/8 2.125 2.009 0.058
2 1/2 2 5/8 2.625 2.465 0.080   2 1/2 2 5/8 2.625 2.495 0.065
3 3 1/8 3.125 2.945 0.090   3 3 1/8 3.125 2.981 0.072
3 1/2 3 5/8 3.625 3.425 0.100   3 1/2 3 5/8 3.625 3.459 0.083
4 4 1/8 4.125 3.897 0.114   4 4 1/8 4.125 3.935 0.095
5 5 1/8 5.125 4.875 0.125   5 5 1/8 5.125 4.907 0.109
6 6 1/8 6.125 5.845 0.140   6 6 1/8 6.125 5.881 0.122


Electrical Metallic Tubing (EMT)
aka thin-wall conduit
3/8 .577 .493 .042 19
1/2 .706 .622 .042 19
3/4 .922 .824 .049 18
1       1.163 1.049 .057 17
1-1/4 1.510 1.380 .065 16
1-1/2 1.740 1.610 .065 16
2       2.197 2.067 .065 16
 2-1/2  2.875 2.731 .072 15
 3        3.500 3.356 .072 15
 3-1/2  4.000 3.834 .083 14
 4     4.500 4.334 .083 14


Pre-calculated lengths for resonant metal rods
Rod Length & Hang Point, A4=440Hz
Diameter inches   Diameter mm
Aluminum Brass Steel   Aluminum Brass Steel
1/4 1/4 1/4   6 6 6
3/8 3/8 3/8   8 8 8
1/2 1/2 1/2   10 10 10
5/8 5/8 5/8   12 12 12
3/4 3/4 3/4   14 14 14
7/8 7/8 7/8   16 16 16
1.00 1.00 1.00   18 18 18
1 1/8 1 1/8 1 1/8   20 20 20
1 1/4 1 1/4 1 1/4   22 22 22
1 3/8 1 3/8 1 3/8   24 24 24
1 1/2 1 1/2 1 1/2   26 26 26
1 5/8 1 5/8 1 5/8   28 28 28
1 3/4 1 3/4 1 3/4   30 30 30
1 7/8 1 7/8 1 7/8   32 32 32
2.00 2.00 2.00   34 34 34

Values can vary slightly because of manufacturing tolerances for diameter, roundness, elasticity, density and poor handling.

Angle-Cut Tubing: A 45° cut at the bottom or top of the tube can add a nice aesthetic touch; however, the tuning for each Angle-Cut Tubingchime tube will change considerably from the 90° cut value. The shorter the chime the more the tuning will change. For example, here are the changes for a 5-chime set made from 2 inch OD aluminum with a wall of .115 inch. The set was originally cut for the pentatonic scale (CDEGA) beginning at C6 using 90° cut tubing. After a 45° cut at the bottom end of each tube, the tuning increased from about 5% to 9% depending on length. Unfortunately, the rate of change was not linear, but a value specific to each length of tubing. Tuning increase was C6 =+5.5%, D =+6.6%, E =+7.5%, G =+7.6% and A=+8.8%. Your notes may change more or less than these.

Additional testing was performed for a number of different diameters and different lengths using aluminum, copper and steel tubing. The results were very consistent. Short thin-walled tubing of any diameter changed the most and long thick-walled tubing of any diameter changed the least. Short tubing (around 20 inches) could increase the tuning by as much as 9 to 10%. Long tubing (35 to 40 inches or more) could change as little as 2%. It was impossible to predict the change other than the trend stated above for short vs. long. This was not surprising because shorting a tube will naturally increase the note frequency.

If you want to maintain exact tuning using a 45° cut, cut the tube longer than the value suggested by the DIY calculator or the pre-calculated tables, and trim to final value using your favorite tuning method. If exact tuning is not required or important, cut the tubing to the suggested length by the calculator to pre-calculated chart, and trim the end at 45°.

Tuning the Chime

If you are attempting to create exact notes for an orchestra setting, exact tuning is required and the use of an electronic tuning device or a good tuning ear is necessary. On the other hand, if you desire a good sounding set of chimes but do not need orchestra accuracy, then carefully cut and finish to the length suggested by the pre-calculated table or the DIY calculators listed above.

Slip knot supports a chime measured by insTuner on an iPadgStrings Chromatic Tuner on an Android with the chime supported by rubber bands at the nodesFrequency measurement: Measuring the exact frequency and musical note of the chime is challenging at best. Read the caution about chromatic tuners below!

There are a host of apps for Chromatic Tuners available for an iPhone, iPad or Android. Site visitor Mathew George uses “gStrings” on his Android, pictured right.

I use the $.99 app “insTuner” on an iPad that includes an FFT spectrum analyzer in addition to freeware Audacity® on a Laptop described below.. A few scrap pieces of wood to make two U-brackets, rubber bands and you're in business. Mark the support nodes 22.4% from each end for locating the rubber bands.

If you have just a few measurements to make a quick and easy support suggestion is a string slipknot positioned at the 22.4% node, pictured right with the iPad.

Caution: It can be challenging and often impossible for a chromatic tuner to measure a chime note correctly. Non linearity of the human ear and a chime's non-harmonic overtones are two reasons.

Chromatic tuners listen and display sound as it is being produced on a linear basis for both amplitude and frequency, but our brain process the same information using fuzzy logic. Why is this a problem?

Unfortunately, the human ear is no doubt the most non-linear and narrowband sound listening device we know of. Similar to other percussion instruments, chimes do not produce fundamental frequencies and pure harmonic frequencies like string instruments, wind tubes and reed instruments, for which chromatic tuners are intended.

Instead, there are numerous non-harmonic overtones present which (depending on their individual frequency and amplitude) can be predominant to a tuner or analyzer, but make little or no difference to the human ear. A chromatic tuner may display the predominant amplitude and frequency, but that may not be what the ear actually perceives. Because of the brain's "fuzzy logic" characteristic, the many overtones associated with a particular chime fundamental frequency, combine to produce a musical note the brain recognizes, but may not be recognized by a chromatic tuner.

It is difficult to provide an exact recommendation when to use the tuner to measure a chime's note, but in general, I find most any note below C4 difficult to measure and on occasion below C5. Long, low frequencies tubes, mostly measure incorrectly because of the "missing fundamental effect" and the preponderance of high amplitude overtones. Thick-walled tank chimes/bells can measure with surprising accuracy because of a single pure tone above C4 that is not cluttered with unimportant sidebands. However, thin-walled tank chimes/bells seem not to do as well and they may be impossible to measure accurately.

In addition, poor quality tubing exhibiting dual fundamentals, will cause the chromatic tuner to constantly switch between the two fundamentals, both of which are incorrect. If you are not displaying the note you expected, try moving the chime further away from the tuner to help minimize unimportant frequencies.

If you get a good steady reading that is not what you expected, the tuner is listening to a predominant overtone, so just ignore that measurement. Using the values for length provided by the tables and DIY calculators on this page will get you very close to the exact note. If the tuner cannot make a believable measurement, use the calculated length for the chime.

FFT sprectum analysis setup measurement for a chime tubeA good software solution for FFT spectrum analysis measurement is the freeware program Audacity® used on a Laptop pictured right. A few additional software sources are listed below. Most any computer microphone will work. In fact, I have used the microphone on a headset used for Skype and it works quite well.

To eliminate the annoying background noise when using a microphone, use an accelerometer. I have good success supporting the chime horizontally at one node by a rubber band and at the other node by a thin wire looped around the chime and attached to an accelerometer.

  Audacity® Laptop freeware, open source, cross-platform software for recording and editing sounds.
Good for fundamental and overtone frequency measurements.

DL4YHF's Amateur Radio Software: Audio Spectrum Analyzer (Spectrum Lab)
              Laptop freeware good for fundamental and overtone frequency measurements, and a  real-time display.

Tune Lab Pro version 4 Laptop freeware good for fundamental and overtone frequency measurements. At a cost, available for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, Windows laptops, Windows Mobile Pocket PCs, Smartphones, and the Android.

Mechanical Support

Chime support: The ideal chime support location to allow for a lengthy sustain time is positioned at either of two locations; at the fundamental frequency node located 22.42% from either end, or at the very end using a string or cable threaded through an end cap.

If sustain time is not a requirement (which makes a tubular chime, a bell sounding chime) such as for orchestra chimes pictured to the right, then support can be through horizontal holes near the end of the tube. A chime supported in this manner reduces most of the sustain time. I do NOT recommend this method of support to achieve a great sounding set of  chimes.

You may see commercial wind chimes supported in this manner, but they cannot support the tradition bell-like sound that you may be expecting. Incorrect support ranks as the number one mistake made by some commercial chimes sets for sale, both on the internet and in stores. They will produce a strike note but lack the rich resonant bell-like sound that results from proper support.

.The first support method for a bell-like sustain time uses the traditional fundamental
frequency node which is 22.42% from either end. See the Transverse vibration mode diagram at the right.

An important objective for a bell-like chime is to preserve the resonance of the chime as long as possible. Accurate placement for the support holes helps to assure the high quality (Q) or hang-time, or sustain time for the chime. A hole size of 1/16 inch can be drilled directly on the location mark but for larger holes, try to place the top of the hole so it aligns with the location mark.

If you're curious about other support locations, it is possible to support the chime at the first, second or third overtone node, but not recommended. All charts and calculations on this page are for the support line to be located at the fundamental frequency node which is 22.42 % from either end.

If you happen to have a background in both mechanical vibration and acoustic vibration, it is easy to confuse overtones and harmonics. Overtones = Harmonics -1, or Harmonics = Overtones + 1. This acoustic harmonic relationship has no connection to the radio frequency definition of harmonics.


     1st Fundamental Frequency         1st Overtone, 2nd Harmonic         2nd Overtone, 3rd Harmonic
 Animations courtesy of Dr. Daniel A. Russell, Professor of Acoustics at Penn State University

Tubular chime support suggestions
Method 1 Method 1 Method 1 Method 2 Method 2
Method 1
Traditional two point mount and the most stable in high winds for string supported chimes.
Method 1 Important to deburr the outside holes Method 1 Eyelets or grommets help when deburring is difficult or impossible Method 2 Knot on the outside allows for one top support point. Somewhat less stable than method 1. Method 2 Deburring the inside support hole is important.
Method 3 Method 3 Method 3 Method 4 Method 4

Method 3 Converts from a two point mount to a single point mount and may be more pleasing to the eye with less visible line.

Method 3
 a little less stable that method 1.

Method 3
May be more pleasing to the eye with less visible string.

Method 4
The 1/2 Wrap
Both ends feed from the outside to inside

Method 4
When the knot can be concealed inside the tube or placed above

Method 4 Method 4 Method 5 Method 5 Method 5
Method 4
The 1/2 Wrap is a convenient connection for a chain mount using either a cord or 80 pound braided fishing line
Method 4
Slide the knot out of view for the chain connection
Method 5 
1/8" metal rod flush cut and deburred. Held with super glue or flair the ends with a ball-peen hammer.
Method 5  1/16" or 1/8" metal rod with a small rubber grommet on outside of the chime for each side prevents buzzing Method 5
Can be used to support the concealed striker
Method 6 Method 6 Method 6 Method 6 Method 7
Method 6
Horizontal cable mount provides a new look
Method 6
1/32" or 1/16" steel cable threads thru each hole
Method 6
Small plastic beads assure even spacing among tubes
Method 6
Even without the beads the tubes have a tendency to space evenly

Method 7
End cap support for copper tubing

Method 8 Method 8 Method 8 Method 8 Method 9
Method 8
Rigid mount using 1/8" bolt or larger
Method 8 Securing nut not shown Method 8
4-point rigid mount allows maximum support vertically or horizontally
Method 8
4-point rigid mount resist abuse in a park or playground setting
Method 9 Horizontal support using a noninvasive soft chord or line





Forming the inverted V wire pin
This example uses a number 12 copper wire but you can use aluminum, brass or whatever works best.

Sharpen and fit a pusher board to the ID of the chime Insert wire thru both holes leaving sufficient wire to form decorative loops Form a decorative loop on one side only. Adjust the loops to not touch the chime below the hole Position the pusher board perpendicular to the wire Use moderate pressure to form the inverted V
A slip knot works well to secure the line Form the second decorative loop. Adjust the loops to not touch the chime below the hole An inverted V is not absolutely necessary. A solid 1/8" brass pin epoxy in place works well for aluminum. For copper or brass tubing , fit a 1/8" brass pin into a 1/8" hole and file smooth Solder or epoxy the pin in place
File smooth and finish


Steel tubing, fit a 1/8" steel or brass pin into a 1/8" hole and file smooth Solder or epoxy the pin in place File smooth and finish  Finish with a smooth or hammered paint finish





Batwing Binder Clip

An alternate inverted “V” support can be the wire arm from a binder clip shown on the right. Remove the wire arms from the clip, stretch them out a little, and position in place using needle nose pliers, wiggle the arm until the tips pop out of the holes. Be sure to attach your hanger line first. The arms tend to be self centering. The binder clips are available in different sizes so you can match the clip to the diameter of the pipe. The wire diameter increases with the size of the clip so make sure to check before you drill the pipes. (Submitted by site visitor Tom, Thanks)

Another alternate support was submitted by Bud (Thanks):
I place a copper wire into a copper pipe and threaded it thru one of the hanging holes, then solder it to the pipe (then cut and grind the excess flat with the tube), and the same for the other hanging hole. Now I have 2 copper wires coming out the inside top of the pipe. I chuck them up to a drill motor and twist, being careful not to kink the wire. Twisting will center the wires in the tube and leave a good looking single wire coming out the center of the pipe. This also would work with steel tubing. This seems to work okay and  it looks cool with the twisted wire.

End Cap, the second support location is when the chime tube is supported by a cable or cord through a hole in an end cap. It is important to understand that the end cap lowers the fundamental frequency and some associated overtones from values calculated by the DIY calculator or Pre-calculated charts. For 1/2" copper tubing type L, the fundamental is lowered by about 3% to 6% from calculated values on this page. For 3/4" type L copper tubing the fundamental is lowered by about 11% to 12%. The good news is that the end cap noticeably increases the duration for the first overtone and the chime has a much more bell-like sound. Look at these two spectral waterfall displays and specifically compare the hang time of the 1st overtone for each. You will notice a considerable increase in sustain time for the end cap supported tube.
: be certain to solder the end caps in place. An unsoldered or loose fitting end cap will completely kill the resonance. An end cap must contact the entire circumference at the end of the chime to function properly.

Waterfall display for a chime tube supported by a hole in the end cap WATERFALL SPECTRAL DISPLAY FOR THE STRIKE NOTE End cap for copper tubing

Waterfall display for a chime tube supported by a hole in the end cap. Similar to the traditional orchestra chime

Waterfall display for a chime tube supported at the traditional fundamental frequency node.

End Cap Support
1/2" Type M Copper Tubing

End support for Rods: It is possible to support a rod at the end. You might be tempted to inset a screw eye at the end, but I can assure you that will completely kill the resonance. Resonance for a tube or rod can easily be killed by touching the end. The end cap is a special case that allows resonance to exist without seriously reducing the sustain time. But adding a screw eye or any amount of mass to the end can kill the sustain time for a rod. The easy solution that works very well is to drill a small hole in the end of the rod and epoxy a 50 pound (22 Kg) woven fishing line into the hole. First tie a knot at the end prior to inserting the line into the hole. This low mass and flexible connection does not impact the resonance and provides an easy method for connection.


Playground Chimes Support: Pictured right is a set of playground chimes for a full octave (CDEFGABC) from anodized aluminum as depicted on the website External Works. This fun and easy DIY project has a couple of important requirements.  First, mounting follows the same requirement as above, i.e. locate the support holes 22.4% from both ends. Rubber grommets help to minimize the reduction of sustain time caused by a firm mounting, but are not absolutely necessary for this application. Rubber has a tendency to deteriorate over time and the use of a nylon or plastic sleeve would be a good alternate. Firm and strong mounting is definitely a requirement for the playground environment, but we need to prevent squeezing the tube at the mounting location. Careful adjustment, when tightening bolts, can prevent this squeeze. Keep the mounting somewhat firm to prevent the undesirable BUZZ caused by loose mounting. Flexible grommets allow a firm mounting that will prevent the buzz.


Support Line: 

Longevity for a chime is important and careful attention to the support lines and thru holes should be considered. Rapid wind changes and UV light can quickly deteriorate support lines, not to mention the many freeze/thaw cycles.

Non metallic support line: Make sure the line is UV resistant. Choices include fishing line (either 80 pound braided or 30-50 pound monofilament), braided nylon line, braided plumb line, braided Dacron kite line, Venetian blind chord, string trimmer/weed eater line (.065 inch), awning chord, and braided electrical conduit pull line.

Metallic support line: thin wire, decorative chain (zinc plated, brass plated, or painted), 1/32 or /16 inch stainless steel cable (rust resistant), small aircraft control line cable.

De-burring: depending on where the support line exits the chime, from the inside or outside, one or the other sharp edges of the thru hole require de-burring. An easy method to de-burr the outside edges of the thru hole is to use a larger drill bit to slightly chamfer the outer edges. If the inside edge of the thru hole is of concern, first remove the burr using a long round file or sandpaper on a stick.

By hand, insert the smooth shaft end of the drill bit or other hardened steel rod into the hole and rotate in a circular motion, careful not to break the drill bit. This motion will tend to further chamfer the outside edge and help to burnish the inner edge of the hole.

Grommets/Eyelets: are mostly for protecting the outside edge of the thru hole. Rubber, plastic or metal (grommets or eyelets) are encouraged, but small sizes can be a challenge to locate. Small eyelets can often be located at your local hobby store in the sewing department or at shoe repair store. You can also use the outer shell of an 1/8 inch or 3/16 inch aluminum pop rivet. Remove the nail-like center and just use the rivet.

Additional Protection: use a small section of heat shrink tubing over a non metallic support line, where it exits the thru hole from the inside, and it is often difficult to de-burr or chamfer.

Sources: include Home Depot or Lowes for heat shrink tubing, eyelets from the hobby store in the sewing department or a shoe repair store. Grommets can be from a hardware store, the model airplane store or the hobby store.

The knot in the support line or wire can be mostly hidden by use of a countersink hole when using thru holes to anchor the line to the support disk. Pictured below are a few examples for anchoring the line.

Anchoring the hanging chime support line to the support disk          Countersink hole for hiding the support line knot

Jigs to position the chime for attaching support line or chainJigs to position the chime for attaching support line or chain After you have selected the alignment configuration, top, center or bottom, a simple jig can assist the installation of the support line. Below are three possible jigs, a square-grove jig and a v-grove jig, both with red adjustable stops for alignment. A third jig made from a section of cardboard or wood strip works well. Scribe a mark for the bottom, center, or top alignment on the jig. Begin with the longest chime and select an appropriate length for the attachment line from the chime to the support point on the support disk or ring and locate a nail, a pencil mark, or the adjustable post at that location on the jig. Place the longest chime on the template and secure with tape, a clamp or maybe lay a book on it. Stretch the line up to the reference post and tie a loop or a knot or mark with a felt tip pen. Repeat with the remainder of the chime set using the scribed reference mark. For center aligned chimes attach a small section of masking tape to the center of the chime and scribe the chime center location on the tape.

Support Line Suggestions

Deburr inside hole using stick & sandpaper

Chamfer outside hole using an oversized drill bit 1/8" & 3/16" aluminum eyelets and a pop rivet Outside hole with aluminum eyelet Eyelets do not protect the line from the inside edge
1/8" & 3/16" eyelets using the top hat from a pop rivet. Use only for thru line. Heat shrink tubing can protect the line from the sharp inside edge of the hole Shrinkable tubing in place and operational Good place to use heat shrink tubing Eyelets required for the outside edge only
Number 12 copper wire bends easily to form an inverted V Double support line for an unusually heavy chime Half wrap hides the knot inside the chime. 80 pound braided fishing line works well. A solid pin with single line support eliminates wear & tear on the connection  

Chime-Set Support Ring or Hoop or Disk

WIND CHIME TOP SUPPORT PLATEPatterns for Wind Chime Support Diak & StrikerWind Chime Support Disk & Striker Patterns PDF are available in the document to the left. The patterns are for tubing sizes from ½” to 2” in ¼” increments, and for chime sets for 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, & 8 chimes. Generic layout patterns are also included




Wind Chime Top Support Disk CalculatorSupport disk calculator with points on a circle Calculator included (Zip) 220 Kb Excel Worksheet

You may wish to calculate you own dimensions for the top support disk using the support disk calculator. You decide the chime diameter (CD), the striker diameter (SD) and the clearance between the striker and the chime tube (D). The calculator provides the correct location for placing the chimes on radius (R) and the spacing between the chimes (CS), and the diameter of the support disk (PD). Instructions for use are included with the calculator.

Location Calculator for Points on a CircleLocation Calculator for Points on a CircleAlso included is a location calculator for points on a circle. Uses include automatic calculations for locating chimes on a radius, and points used to draw a multisided polygon such as a star striker or support disk arranged as a star, a pentagon, a hexagon or an octagon etc. An easy lookup table is provided for locating 3 to 8 points

Rather than using a protractor to layout the angles for the shape of your polygon, select the number of points and the radius (R) for those points, and the calculator provides you with the distance between points. Adjust a compass to the distance (L) and walk the compass around the circle to locate the points.

If you want to avoid using the above calculator, an easy work-around is to select an appropriate generic pattern from the Support disk & striker patterns document and scribe the accurate location for support holes using the pattern.

Chime Location Sequence

Suggested locations for a circular chime configuration

A circular striker will typically strike one chime at a time but can simultaneously strike two chimes. When this happens you can enhance the overall sound by placing widely separated notes next to each other For example, below are location suggestions with chime number 1 as the shortest and moving upwards in length as the location numbers increase.

5 Chime Set Note Locations 6 Chime Set Note Locations 8 Chime Set Note Locations
Inline configuration
1 - 3 - 5 - 2 - 4 1 - 4 - 2 - 5 - 3 - 6 1 - 5 - 2 - 6 -3 - 7 - 4 1 - 5 - 2 - 6 -3 - 7 - 4 - 8

Chime-Set Support Suggestions
A circular ring provides an open air and see thru appearance Support rings can be cut from an out of service aluminum fire extinguisher Use an abrasive metal cutting saw blade in a radial arm saw, a chop saw or a table saw Use the generic patterns to mark the 3-point mount location holes and a generic pattern matching your number of chimes Use the generic patterns to mark the 3-point mount location holes and a generic pattern matching your number of chimes

A circular ring or hoop provides an open air and see thru appearance.

Support rings can be cut from an out of service aluminum fire extinguisher. Strip paint and brush with a wire wheel. Use an abrasive metal cutting saw blade in a radial arm saw, a chop saw or a table saw. Height of 3/8” to 3/4 “works well. Chain, decorative cord, or braided fishing line can be used with this top support hoop. Use the generic patterns document to mark the 3-point mount location holes and a generic pattern matching your number of chimes.
Chrome plated steel rings and hoops in a variety of sizes from hobby stores and online Look in hobby stores for rings or hoops often used for dream catchers, mandellas or macramé Support disk cut from aluminum used with the keeper-striker arrangement 3-point or 4-point mount A  single screw eye mount
Chrome plated steel rings and hoops in a variety of sizes from hobby stores and online Look in hobby stores for rings or hoops often used for dream catchers, mandellas or macramé Support disk cut from .075" aluminum with a 3/6" x 3" eye bolt used with the striker-keeper arrangement  Chain or UV resistant cord can be configured for a
3-point or 4-point mount on a solid wood disk
A single screw eye is an easy connection but more difficult to balance level
Screw eyes or thru hoes support the line or cord star pattern support disk birdhouse bottom view Pets, sports logo or a favorite hobby can adorn the top of the chime disk A decorative hand painted funnel or pan lid add uniqueness to the set
Screw eyes or thru hoes support the chain or chord. If the star pattern is used for the striker it can be duplicated for the top support You can also use the chime set as a birdhouse. Pets, sports logo or a favorite hobby can adorn the top of the chime disk. A decorative hand painted funnel or pan lid adds uniqueness to the set

Ideal Strike Zone for a Tubular ChimeOrchestra chimes, of course, need a human to strike the chime and a rawhide-covered rubber mallet works well. A rawhide-covered baseball or softball can work well for wind chimes, but only in a very high wind environment where there is ample strike energy from the sail. An orchestra chime is struck with gusto but a wind chime often has little strike energy. Typically there is little strike energy from normal winds so preserving and applying that energy is the challenge. Design considerations below include single or multiple strikers, the shape, weight, material, suspension, motion, and strike location.

An important consideration for a bell-like chime is the location for the Strike Zone.
The optimum location is at the very end of the tubular chime because this location will assure that all possible overtones are energized to the maximum. This should not be surprising since orchestra chimes are struck at the end. An easy solution to assuring the strike occurs at the very end of the chime is to use bottom alignment and a tapered striker as shown in striker suggestions. 

Often you will see the center selected as the strike location for a tubular bell wind chime, perhaps for aesthetic reasons. When the exact center of the chime is struck the odd numbered overtones can fail to energize, and the resulting sound can be very clunky even though the even numbered overtones were well energized. While I recommend striking the end of the chime, there are good aesthetic reasons to align the chimes for a center alignment or a top alignment. The ideal strike zone is about 1 inch from the end, or about an inch below the center, line as pictured below. All three locations work okay when you keep the striker away from dead center, which is a dead zone for the first overtone. Don't worry much about killing the first overtone with center placement. The first overtone dead zone is very narrow and easily overcome with a slightly off-center strike.

Strike zone for top, bottom or center alignment
Strike Zone for Top Alignment Strike Zones for Bottom Alignment Strike Zone for Center Alignment

                   Top Aligned chimes
Find the center line for the longest chime and position the striker at least an inch or more below that center line. Anywhere in the green section above.

                   Bottom Aligned chimes
Find the center line for the shortest chime and position the striker at least an inch or more below that center line. Anywhere in the green section above.

                  Center Aligned chimes
Find the center line for all chimes and position the striker at least an inch or more below the center line. Anywhere in the green section above.



The Striker Shape is most often circular because the chimes are located in circle. An alternate shape is the circular traveling radial striker which can be effective for striking a musical chord. The radial striker most often takes the shape of an open star or a closed star, like the keeper-striker pictured here. The striker has a tendency to rotate CW & CCW as it bounces to and from each chime. A circular striker will typically contact one or maybe two chimes simultaneously. However, the star shaped striker can synchronously contact most all of the chimes. The loudness of the chimes struck with a star striker is somewhat reduced compared to the circular striker because the strike energy has been distributed among the various chimes.

Open Star Radial Striker Strikes A Cord                      Closed Star Radial Striker, aka Keeper-Striker, Strikes A Cord  

Transparent Closed Star Keeper-Striker: Site visitor and chime set builder, Dennis Wagner, devised a nifty method to gain the advantage of a keeper-striker, yet maintain a clean and transparent look. Dennis drilled 3/64 inch holes at the star tips and threaded 50# test monofilament fishing line (1/32 inch)  thru each hole to form a firm but transparent circular keeper.


Striker Weight: A heavy striker for large chimes and a lighter weight striker for smaller chimes, is mostly true. Depending on your  typical wind there may be occasions when you need a light weight striker for large chimes. Near the seashore, winds can be rather strong and you may need to soften the strike with a light weight striker or switch to a rawhide-covered baseball or softball. Considerable strike energy can be achieved by using an oak disk machined to a knife-edge and loaded with a 1oz weight. See striker suggestions below.

Striker Material: The choice of material depends somewhat on the note selection. If there is good movement from the wind sail, then a circular disk striker (soft sided but heavy) can be used for the larger diameter chimes (say above 2 inches), particularly for lower frequency chimes. Some choices are a hockey puck, redwood, red cedar, treated lumber or a 1/4" nylon cutting board. If the wind is quite strong and gusty, you may need to soften the striker even further by using a rawhide-covered baseball/softball. The rawhide helps to produce a very mellow strike in a strong wind. Smaller diameter higher frequency chimes benefit from a harder wood like white oak, teak or Osage-orange aka hedge-apple. Be sure to coat the striker with a UV resistant coating.

On the other hand, a well performing star-striker should be from a relatively hard material, yet light weight, allowing for a quick response to circular movements. The loudness of chimes struck with a star striker is reduced, compared to the circular striker, because the strike energy has been distributed among the various chimes, and a harder material is required for a strong strike. 1/8 inch soft aluminum, sheet plastic or a 1/4 inch nylon cutting board works well to accomplish both goals.

Keep it Clean: A dirty strike can energize a host of unwanted spurious sideband frequencies as demonstrated by the steel striker in the blue spectrum display below. A most melodious bell sound is achieved with a softer strike that energizes overtones without spurious sidebands, as shown in the purple spectrum display below.

Both strikers produced equal loudness for the fundamental while the steel striker did a better job of energizing overtones (louder) but at the expense of unwanted dirty sidebands. The wood striker (hard maple) produced a most melodious bell sound while the metal strike was harsh and annoying.

Frequency display for the fundamental with overtones when struck with a steel striker              Frequency display for the fundamental with overtones when struck with a wood striker

The Conceal & Carry Chime hides a lead or steel striker on the inside the chime for large diameters chimes, mostly above two inches as pictured left and right. This technique is seldom used unless the chime set is large or becomes annoying, caused by the traditional disk striker in high winds. Because the distance is insufficient for the striker to gain momentum and strike with gusto, the inside striker could be a good solution to quieting chimes in high winds. If you're looking for a muted sound from a large set, maybe 4 inches and above, this technique is useful. The striker can be a steel ball or a lead weight, normally used as a sinker for fishing, and can be any of the following: a cannon ball sinker, a bell sinker, a bank sinker or an egg sinker. Wrap the sinker with about two layers of black electrical tape to prevent the harsh sound from a metal strike yet still provide a strong but muted strike. Support for the striker string or line from can be from the same point you use to support the chime tube.

Striker Suspension: A small 1/16-inch brass tube about 5 inches long thru the center of the striker allows for the suspension line to be threaded and used as an axle for the disk. This helps keep the disk horizontal during rapid and sudden movements from high winds. A stiff wire, like coat hanger wire, can be used as an axle as shown below in striker suggestions.

Striker Motion: I happen to live in a wooded area with little wind and have struggled to achieve good strike energy from low winds. With that in WIND CHIME STRIKER RESONANCEmind, I set out to improve the low wind performance of the striker.

The objective is to maximize striker movement with little input energy from the sail. The easy solution was to resonant the support line that supports both the striker and the sail using the second mode bending principle. This resonance will help to amplify and sustain the motion of the striker with little input energy from the sail. Even though the sail moves in the wind, it will act as an anchor for the resonant movement of the striker.

You can easily recognize this movement by using both hands to hold a string vertically and have a second person pluck the center of the string. The natural resonance of the string will cause the center to vibrate. If you position the striker at the exact center between the top and the sail you can achieve this resonance.

It is difficult to provide an exact ratio between the weight of the striker and the weight of the sail. Depending on the actual weight for both the ratios can be quite different. In general, when you attempt to resonant the striker line, I suggest the striker not exceed the weight of the sail and ideally the striker should be about 1/2 the weight of the sail. I realize that if you use a CD as the sail a lighter weight striker can be difficult to achieve. A heavy striker is difficult to resonant regardless of the weight for the sail. Once you have a striker you like then a little experimenting with the sail maybe required to achieve good resonance.

On the other hand, for medium to high winds and for a non-resonant mounting, the wind catcher/sail should have a weight less than 25% of the striker.

When resonance is working well you will notice as the sail comes to rest, the striker will continue to bounce off the chimes for a few more strikes, an indication the striker is dissipating the stored energy from resonance. See this Resonant Striker VIDEO WMV, for a demo. Notice the large movement of the striker compared with little movement from the sail.

Wind Chime Striker / Clapper Suggestions

Plain Disk Striker with Axle Knife Edge Disk Striker with Axle Maximizes Strike Energy Knife Edge Disk Striker with Axle Maximizes Strike Energy Knife Edge Disk Striker With Weight and Axle Knife Edge Disk Striker With 1 oz Weight and Axle
Straight edge wood disk striker with axle Knife edge wood disk maximizes strike energy Bullet nose wood striker with hollow axle or wire axle maximizes strike energy Knife edge disk striker with weight and axle Close up for tapered edge wood striker with weight & axle
Tapered Edge Striker with Axle Maximizes Strike Energy Tapered Edge Striker with Axle Can Strike All 5 Chimes Equally Well Close up for Tapered Edge Striker with Axle Sculptured Tapered Edge Striker with Axle For Use With Small Diameter Chimes Sculptured Tapered Edge Striker with Axle Strikes the Bottom Edge of the Chime Tube

Tapered edge wood striker with axle allows striking the end of the chime edge for maximum strike energy

Typical arrangement for a tapered edge striker with axle for bottom aligned chimes

Typical tapered edge striker with axle for bottom aligned chimes

A sculptured tapered edge striker adds a decorative touch for striking the edge of the chime end

A sculptured tapered edge striker assures contact with the very end edge of the chime

Star Striker Rotates on Contact with the Chime and Effectively Strikes a Musical Cord The Star Striker Loudness is Reduced Compared to the Traditional Round Striker Enclosed Radial Striker Enclosed Radial Striker 3-Point Radial Striker

Animation for a 5-point open radial striker that rotates on contact with the chime bouncing back and forth effectively striking a chord or most of the chord

The open star radial striker loudness is reduced compared to the traditional round striker The closed star radial striker works great for maintaining alignment in high wind conditions and produces a more subtle strike The enclosed star radial striker can be made from 1/8” sheet plastic, aluminum or other light weight but relative hard material Multipliable configurations exist to achieve a radial strike. This one might be appropriate for someone working in the nuclear business.
3, 4,& 5 Chime Keeper-Striker 3-Chime Keeper-Striker 4-Chime Keeper-Striker 5-Chime Keeper-Striker Fixed Striker useful in high winds for a softer strike
3, 4,& 5 Chime Keeper-Striker 3-Chime     Keeper-Striker 4-Chime     Keeper-Striker 5-Chime     Keeper-Striker

A fixed Striker mounted on a 1/4" aluminum rod attached to a solid support disk is useful in high winds for a softer strike

Bullet Nose Striker with Axle Maximizes Strike Energy Baseball/Softball Good For A Soft & Mellow but Effective Strike Concealed Lead Striker inside a 2 Inch Diameter or Larger Chime Provides a Unique Style Concealed Lead Striker inside a 2 Inch Diameter or Larger Chime Croquet Ball Good For A Strong Strike. Locate Away from the Weather
Enameled coat hanger wire works well for an axle Baseball / Softball good for a mellow strike in a high wind environment. Conceal & Carry
The chime carries a concealed lead striker inside a 2 Inch diameter or larger chime, and provides a unique style with a more subtle strike
2 oz lead weight wrapped with two layers of black electrical tape provide a strong but muted strike A billiard ball or croquet ball are choices for a strong strike on a small chime. Test first for harshness. Can be too strong for some

The Wind Chime Wind Sail / Wind Catcher

Wind Sail - Wind Catcher Patterns

Wind Sails / Catchers: The pessimist complains about the wind, the optimist expects it to change, the realist adjusts the sails. by William Arthur Ward

The objective of the wind sail/catcher is to cause the striker to randomly contact all the chime tubes. Traditional wind sails generally work well and can be configured with a variety of materials, sizes and shapes as shown in the document on the right. Patterns for Wind Sails/Catchers 1.5 Meg, PDF

My dissatisfaction with the traditional wind sail is that single-direction winds have a tendency to cause the sail to swing like a pendulum. That arrangement will swing the sail both to and from the direction of the wind, not allowing the striker to contact adjacent chimes. That affect sounds much like a dingdong, dingdong as the striker hits only two chimes.

As you may know, wind close to the ground can behave differently than winds aloft, and often does not blow horizontally as intuition would suggest. Instead, it is a multidirectional force with an ample amount of wind shear.

Bi-Directional Wind VaneTo better understand wind turbulence mixed with single-direction winds watch this 60 second video, Bi-Directional Wind Vane VIDEO (WMV, 3.2Meg) showing a bi-directional wind vane mounted on my deck. You probably noticed the swirling motion mixed with single-direction winds and the random uphill and downhill movement (pitch & yaw). Perhaps we can exploit this force to make a better wind sail. Let's take advantage of this turbulence to create a striker movement that is somewhat rotational in nature and does a better job of striking all the chimes.

 Solving the Dingdong

ANGULAR MOUNT WIND CHIME WIND CATCHERThe first of several solutions to better capture wind turbulence can be quite simple. Mount the sail at 45° to the horizontal so as to catch the pitch and yaw forces, as pictured on the right. Thread the support line through two small holes next to the center of an old CD disk and tie the knot slightly off-center to create the 45° slope. You may need to glue the line in place for the long term.

A second solution is to hang the sail perfectly horizontal. Counter intuitive, I agree, but depending on your particular type of wind it can work surprising well, particularly if the chime set is hung from a high deck or beyond the first story of the building and the wind is particularly turbulent.

Site visitor (David) writes to offer an alternate method for tilting the sail. Place the support line in the hole of the CD and tie to the line an object larger than the hole such as a shot piece of dowel rod or colorful section of cloth. Now you have a tilted sail and a sun sail, all-in-one. See picture at left. Thanks David.

Single support line allows chimes set to rotate with the windA third solution is to make sure the top support disk can easily rotate in a circular direction. Hang the top support disk not from a fixed ring or hook but from a single support line as pictured to the right. The very nature of the wind will catch enough of the chimes to rotate the entire set allowing the pendulum motion of the sail to strike more of the chimes.

A fourth solution can be the radial traveling star striker described above. The very nature of the star striker is to quickly rotate CW & CCW from any input motion of the sail, even from straight line winds, and this motion will easily avoid the dingdong sound.

Need More Dingdong? At this point you are most likely saying “WHAT” more dingdong? We just got done solving the dingdong and now you want more! Yes, there is a condition when excessive pendulum movement of the sail is useful and not sufficiently supplied by the tradition wind sail. With the development of the keeper-striker or the radial-striker, both of which are very effective in striking a musical chord, there is a need for a robust movement of the striker. The radial striker produces a more muted sound because the strike energy is simultaneously distributed among all the chimes by moving in a circular motion. Thus the need for a more robust strike.

Orthogonal Wind Sail will aggressively fly at right angles to the wind directionJerk, Jolt, Surge & Lurch: We often describe the motion of an object in terms of displacement, velocity, or acceleration. However, an additional motion description is the rate of change of acceleration, although seldom used. The unit of measurement is often termed jerk but is also known as jolt, surge, or lurch . Jerk supplies the sudden and rapid motion from the wind sail to the rotary keeper-striker.

Introducing Orthogonal Sailing: We have developed a special wind sail to solve the need for more jerk. As mention above, a normal wind sail will mostly swing to and from the direction of the wind; however, the orthogonal sail has the unique ability to fly aggressively at right angles to the wind direction. If the wind is from the North the sail will fly East and West. Construction details are in the Handbook and available here.


CAUTION ! The orthogonal sail can be dangerous. We do not recommend hanging the chime set where the sail can contact children, adults, or animals. The sail makes no noise and can swing a full 180 degrees in a half circle motion. This quiet operation and wide swing can cause people to be unaware of the danger. The sail is flat thin metal and can possibly cut the skin or damage an eye as it swings. BE CAREFUL !

No Wind SailNo Sailing Today: Long and large diameter chimes present a considerable surface area to the wind and can move sufficiently to cause a good strike without the need for a wind sail. In addition, the large diameter striker, often associated with a large chime set, can capture adequate wind for a good strike. Depending on the distance between the striker and the chime tube, not all chime sets require a sail. Pictured right are closely spaced chimes that easily contact the striker with low to moderate winds. Because of the short distance between the striker and the chime tube, the strike is not robust but adequate.

The best solution for you will depend on your type of wind. You may need to try a few different sails for success.

Windless Chimes On occasion there may be times when you want a set of chimes in a windless environment, or even outdoors in a low wind environment like a heavily wood area. Using an electromagnet to repel a high intensity magnet at the end of the striker rod can provide you with endless possibilities. Typically named chaos engine, this arrangement can produce a random movement for the striker. Powered by either 120 VAC or a 12 VDC solar charged battery, the electromagnet is controlled by a circuit board with an adjustable strike rate. You can design your individual set of windless chimes using components purchased from Sonntag Creations formerly Newton's Flying Magnets. Below is a short video demonstrating some of the possibilities.


Out of service compressed gas/air cylinders, scuba diving tanks or fire extinguishers are often cut and used as a chime or bell. Based on physical measurements can we pre-determine a musical note for these tanks? To the best of my research I do not find a mathematical method for calculating a musical note for these tanks. Both the neck-end and the base-end seriously alter the vibration performance of the cylinder rendering existing formulas useless.

However, once the tank has been cut to your desired length it is easy work to determine the fundamental frequency using an analysis program like Audacity®, a free, open source, cross-platform software for recording and editing sounds.

Frequency spectrum for a neck-end tank bell chimeDo not use any formula, table or chart on this web site to predict a tanks musical performance.

The frequency spectrum does not always follow the traditional overtone pattern for a chime tube and can include a host of additional overtones normally associated with the bell-like sound. See the spectrum diagram to the right.

Energizing all the overtones and avoiding the harsh sound when using a metal striker can be a challenge. A golf ball or baseball can work well but requires a robust strike to properly energize the overtones. I have not had good success using a wood striker unless it's a really robust strike not typically possible with a normal wind sail


Length matters not, maybe? A most perplexing situation can exist for some tank lengths

Tank Length Matters or Maybe Not? A most perplexing situation can exist for some tank lengths. We tested five sets of tank chimes, sets A, B, C, D, & E pictured to the right. All chimes for sets D and E sounded distinctly different and each had a different height, and a different fundamental frequency and overtone structure; however, not true for sets A, B, and C.

In comparison, each chime in set A sounded exactly the same and had nearly identical fundamental frequencies and nearly identical overtones, but represented three different lengths. The same was true for sets B and C. There was a slight difference in timbre among the bells, but a considerable difference in length for each set.


Click to ExpandSet B has both a neck-end and a base-end chime from a compressed-gas cylinder. While both chimes strike almost exactly the same fundamental frequency (295 Hz vs. 290 Hz), they are of different lengths and have a slightly different timbre but sound mostly the same. Tank B was more melodious than tank A but not a lot The difference in overtone structure is pictured to the right.

I investigated circular mode resonance which is a function of just material type, OD and wall thickness, and not length, as a possible explanation for this effect. Unfortunately the circular mode resonance was considerably lower than the observed resonance and offered no correlation to the actual measurements. The calculated vs. observed resonances were as follows: Calculated circular mode resonance were Set A = 35.4 Hz vs. 133 Hz; Set B= 29.7 Hz vs. 290 Hz; Set C= 71.7 Hz vs. 354 Hz. The formula was provided by Chuck from Chuck's Chimes and is: F = (T/(2*D^2))*SQRT(E/Density) where F = frequency, E = modulus of elasticity, D = mean diameter, and T = wall thickness.

I remain a bit perplexed on exactly why length appears to have little effect on the fundamental frequency and the overtones structure above some critical length point. Clearly this was not a rigorous scientific test, but enough to cause concern and points to need for further investigation.

Pictured below are a couple of tank chime examples from site visitor Grey Yahn from Pennsylvania.

Click to Expand   Click to Expand 


Abrasive metal cutting saw bladeIf you're new to cutting metal and looking for an easy method, I use an abrasive metal cutting saw blade in a radial arm saw and it works equally well with a cut-off saw, aka chop-saw.

The blade pictured left is under $5.00 at Home Depot. Make certain to use a cutting disk designed for the type of metal you plan to use. Using the wrong type of abrasive disk can cause a dangerous explosion The traditional tubing cutter or hacksaw works well also. Definitely use safety glasses.

Wear all recommended safety equipment including eye protection, hearing protection and respiratory protectionSafety Caution: All of these tanks are highly regulated by the US Department of Transportation (DOT), the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), by Transport Canada (TC) and others. Make certain the tank is safe for handling, is completely empty (fill with water and empty to assure all gases are exhausted), and is safe for cutting. Wear all recommended safety equipment including eye protection, hearing protection and respiratory protection. The tanks are heavy and can be dangerous when handling, use extreme caution.

Hammered Paint FinishThe chime tube can be stained, dyed, anodized or painted. A light weight coating of spray lacquer, spray polyurethane, spray paint, a powder coat or a crackle/hammered/textured finish (pictured right) can be used without a noticeable reduction in the sustain time. However, avoid thick heavy coats of latex as they seriously reduce the sustain time and can kill the resonance.


Patina finish on steel: Site visitor and artist, Roger Deweese, has successfully applied a metal dye to produce some amazing patina finishes for his tank bell chimes. Read here about the procedure Roger employed.





Copper chimes treated to produce the Aged Copper (Patina) Look The Aged Copper Patina Look : a site visitor sent me a procedure to artificially age copper to provide the patina appearance. The procedure works well and pictured to the left are the satisfactory results. I have included the procedure here for your reference. Be patient with this procedure , it can take several days to complete but the results are terrific.

You will need two commonly available chemicals to complete this process. The first is a rust remover that contains phosphoric acid. A couple of sources are Naval Jelly® or Rust Killer™. Secondly, a toilet bowl cleaner that contains either hydrochloric or sulfuric acid. Some choices are Zep® Inc. Toilet Bowl Cleaner, The Works® Toilet Bowl Cleaner, Misty® Bolex 23 Percent Hydrochloric Acid Bowl Cleaner and LIME-A-WAY® Toilet Bowl Cleaner. Read the content labels carefully and look for any brand of rust remover that contains phosphoric acid and a toilet bowl cleaner that has either hydrochloric or sulfuric acid in your local store.

These are dangerous chemicals. Wear safety glasses, old clothes, rubber gloves and follow all manufactures safety recommendations. If the chemical gets on your skin wash immediately with a liberal amount of water. Use in a well ventilated area.

Download the patina procedure HERE PDF

  1. Begin by cutting your chime tubes to length and make any length adjustments necessary for tuning. De-burr and remove any sharp edges from both ends and the support hole.

  2. Decide how you are going to support the chime, using either end caps or a support line at the 22.42% location. Attach a temporary line to support the chime vertically. This temporary line will get messy and can be discarded at the end of this procedure.

  3. Clean the chime using a soapy solution of dish washing detergent like Dawn™ or equivalent. I also used a fine grade steel wool to lightly scrub the surface. Dry completely.

  4. Hang the chime vertically.

  5. Soak a small soft paint brush or dry rag with the rust remover and completely coat the chime. Allow to drip-dry. This could take from a few hours to three days depending on your local humidity. This step slightly etches the surface of the copper in preparation for the next chemical step.

  6. When the chime is completely dry remove the dried rust remover from the chime using a dry cloth. Do not use water.

  7. Soak a small soft paint brush or dry rag with the toilet bowl cleaner and completely coat the chime. This could take from a few hours to a few days depending on your local humidity. A second coat will help to improve the patina look. This step causes the bluish green patina to develop in the etched surface and will darken the smooth surfaces.

  8. Allow a few days to dry and the chime should ready for handling to install the final support lines.

  9. The finished chime may not look like the picture above when newly completed. It can take a few weeks to completely darken and turn green in spots. Re-application of the toilet bowl cleaner may be necessary

  10. I have had this patina set of chimes for several years and the patina look gets better every year and holds up well in all kinds of weather. 

 Artificial aging copper for the patina appearance

Cleaned and ready for the process. Tube on the left sanded with 150 grit sand paper, the right tube cleaned with steel wool.

First coat of rust remover applied Rust remover dried Excess rust remover wiped with a rag First coat of toilet bowel cleaner containing hydrochloric acid applied
First coat of toilet bowel cleaner dried Second coat of toilet bowel cleaner dried. At this stage it doesn't look like much happened but be patient, it gets better with time and weather. After a few weeks in the weather After several months in the weather Reapplied the toilet bowel cleaner
        Completed process

Wind Chime Sparkling Copper Look


Sparkling Copper: An easy way to obtain the sparkling copper look is to sand the surface of the copper chime using an orbital sander with about 150 grit sand paper. This will completely expose fresh copper and leave behind orbital scratches on the surface. Coat the sanded chime with a clear spray lacquer or a spray polyurethane to preserve the new copper look. See picture to the right.



What is a Tubular Bell Chime?
Tubular chimes date to prehistoric times for a number of cultures, back nearly 5,000 years. Tubular bells chimes were developed in the 1880's when using regular bells in an orchestra setting became impractical. Tubular bells closely imitate church bells and the practice of using a resonant tube as a bell soon flourished and became the traditional orchestra bell.

Traditional church bells or tubular bells can be characterized by their strike note. That bell-like strike note can be expanded to include the overtone structure, sustain time and loudness. That sounds simple enough, but imbedded in that explanation are two definitions. The first  definition is when a chime, properly designed and constructed, can imitate a bell, and the second definition is that a chime may not imitate a bell. Our objectives is to assist you to achieve the most bell-like sound as possible.

Compared to a string or brass musical instrument, designing  a tubular bell chime presents a unique challenge not experienced elsewhere. Although unique, building a great set of tubular bells can be easily understood and implemented. Ending your project with a successful and pleasing sound is important and setting the right expectations will allow that to happen. The information below may help you to better set realistic expectations.

Loudness limits: One of the largest differences between a chime and other musical instruments is loudness. Loudness depends on the physical size of the chime i.e. the radiating surface area. Compared to a string instrument where a sounding board is used to amplify the vibration of the string, or compared to a brass instrument that is fitted with a flared tube to amplify the loudness, a chime has no amplifying assistance, other than the inherent surface area of the chime tube. Overall, this loudness limitation for a typically sized chime-set will provide serious limitations for the available range of effective note selection.

On the other hand, if you move up from a typical chime-set, into the really large mega chimes, then good loudness is easily achieved. For example, shown left is a large chime-set from Sandra Bilotto. See another large sets here.

An exception is when the resonant frequency of the tube matches the air column resonance for the tube, as described by Chuck from Chuck's Chimes. Assistance from the energized air column adds a small amount of loudness.

The second limitation for loudness from a tubular chime depends on the location of the selected note compared to the natural sensitivity of the human ear. You can view the loudness sensitivity range vs. frequency of the ear by viewing the Fletcher/Munson Equal Loudness Curves. The ear has more sensitivity in the range from about 300 Hz to about 4 KHz, than at other frequencies and helps to explain why we can not always hear all the overtones, even if they are present. This loudness limitation will have a direct affect on what notes work best for a chime.

Chime Length VS Diameter for Musical Note C4Proportional dimensions: Increasing the chime diameter increases the radiating surface area and contributes to a louder chime but at a cost. The increased diameter greatly increases the length requirement for a specific note, which is not necessarily bad; it just makes the chime set longer as the chime diameter is increased. See the graph to the right for musical note C4



Chime Length VS Wall Thickness for Musical Note C4On the other hand, increasing the wall thickness has the opposite effect as an increase in diameter. As the wall thickness increases there is a small decrease in the length requirement for any specific note. In addition there will be an increase in the sustain time from the increased mass. See the graph to the right.




DIAMETER VS. fREQUENCY FOR A CONSTANT LENGTH AND CONSTANT WALL THICKNESS CHIME TUBEIncreasing the outside diameter while keeping the length and wall thickness constant will cause a substantial increase in the resonant frequency.





 The strike note vs. the sustaining note: The perceived musical note from a chime, when first struck, is not simply the fundamental chime tube frequency but the addition from a host of overtone notes. Unfortunately, the strike note (which can have a very pleasing sound) has a short life or a short sustain time caused by the rapid attenuation of the overtones. The sustaining vibration (several seconds) will be the fundamental strike frequency that may or may not be audible. Note selection will be decided by whether you are interested in hearing just the strike note or perhaps more interested in hearing the sustaining note. For example, a chime used in an orchestra setting is typically a rapid sequence of notes with the strike note as the predominate sound, and little if no time allowed for the sustaining note. On the other hand, a tubular bell wind chime is often characterized by the long sustain time of a note.

TRANSVERSE VIBRATION MODES FOR A TUBE OR BAR WHEN BOTH ENDS ARE FREE TO VIBRATEThe overtone structure for a chime is not an integer harmonic as in string instruments but instead, non-harmonic as in other percussion instruments. When the chime is supported at the fundamental frequency node, see diagram at the right, the higher partials are dampened but the fundamental strike frequency remains. Overtones exist and in a perfect metal where the density and the elasticity are constant, have theoretical multiples of the fundamental multiplied by X 2.76, X 5.40, X 8.93, X 13.34, X 18.64 and X 31.87.

However, in the real world of metal tubing, when metal does not have a consistent density or elasticity, the multiples will drift from the theoretical values either up or down by as much as +2% to -8%.

If we could hear the complete compliment of all overtones for each note of a chime tube, it would be a most wonderful bell-like sound. Unfortunately, not all of the fundamental tones and/or all of the overtones can be adequately radiated as an auditable sound by the chime tube for all possible lengths of a chime. This condition also limits the available range of notes that have a bell-like sound.

For example, a chime cut for C2 (65.4 Hz), the fundamental frequency is audibly absent (aka the missing fundamental) along with little audible contribution from the first overtone (180.5 Hz). The remaining overtones combine to produce a perceived musical note. The perceived note does not coincide with any specific overtone and is difficult to measure without a frequency spectrum analyzer or perhaps a good musical ear. The good news is that the brain processes the information present in the overtones to calculate the fundamental frequency, using fuzzy logic.

WATERFALL SPECTRAL DISPLAY FOR THE STRIKE NOTEYou can see from the waterfall display at the right (click to expand) that a chime cut for 272.5 Hz (near C4#), has two characteristics. The first characteristic is the sound when the chime is first struck, the Strike Note. It comprises both the fundamental and the first four overtones, and has that traditional chime sound for a short period of time.

The 1st overtone contributes for about two seconds and rapidly deteriorates. The remaining sound is solely the fundamental strike frequency. Note the long sustain time for the fundamental, pictured to the left of the photo.

The 2nd, 3rd and 4th overtones are present and contribute to the strike note but attenuate quickly. They have little contribution to the lingering perceived sound, aka sustain time or hang-time

In contrast to the above example, the sound for a chime cut at fundamental C6 (1046.5 Hz) and above is mostly the fundamental and the overtones are audibly absent or mostly absent.

In addition to the many overtones that may be present for a chime, we have the difficulty of knowing which overtones are prominent for each note, because of the ear's sensitivity as represented by The equal loudness curves. As you might suspect, the loudness of a particular overtone changes as we move up the scale. For a typical ear sensitivity range of 300 Hz to 3 KHz, see the data audible fundamental and overtones for wind chime notes as a simple example for the range of audible overtones. Obviously this is not the entire audible range of the ear, but is presented as a simple example of the limited ability of the ear to hear all the frequencies generated by the overtone structure. In particular, the range of C2 to C3 contain a large number of audible overtones while the range of C5 to C7 contains very few. The note range from C2 thru C4 produce the most melodious sounds, most bell-like, and are easy to build. Precise tuning is not required unless the set is for an orchestra setting.

The missing fundamental is when the brain uses "fuzzy logic" to processes the information present in the overtones to calculate the missing fundamental frequency.

To gain a better understanding of the perceived note, I examined a set of orchestra grade chimes manufactured by a major UK manufacture. The set was 1.5" chrome plated brass with a wall thickness of .0625 inches and ranged1 ½ octaves from C5 (523.30 Hz) to G6 (1568.00 Hz). The length of C5 was 62 5/8 inches. The fundamental frequency for this length is around 65 Hz, about C2# , yet the perceived note is C5 at 523 Hz. The fundamental strike frequency of 65 Hz and the first overtone at 179.4 Hz (65 x 2.76 = 179.4 Hz) are audibly absent, aka the missing fundamental. In fact, even the second overtone at 351 Hz will not be strong in loudness. The remaining overtones (mechanical vibration modes) combined to produce what the ear hears acoustically, which is C5 at 523 Hz, yet there is not a specific fundamental or overtone at that exact frequency.

I spoke with the people at a major USA chime manufacture (symphony grade) and confirmed that indeed the process of tuning an orchestra grade chime is a complex process and understandably a closely held trade secret. The process involves accounting for all frequencies from the fundamental (whether present or missing) through the many overtones,  by the use of math calculations, acoustic measurements, and the careful grinding of the chime to achieve the correct length for the desired note. 

An orchestra chime is not supported by the classical wind chime method using a string through the chime at the first frequency node 22.4%, but instead, is fitted with an end cap that contains a small top hole through which a steel cable supports the chime. From testing I find that the end cap not only enhances the bell-like sound, by increasing the duration of the first overtone, but it also lowers the fundamental frequency by about 4% to 12 % from calculated values, depending on tube material and diameter. More on this at Chime tube mechanical support.

Many researchers have spent time investigating the missing fundamental and the perceived note' from a chime. A few good sources are: Hyper Physics. Fuzzy logic and the subjective pitch by Dr. John Askil (no longer available)  and Wikipedia.

The Bell-Like Chime

Using the above characteristics for a chime, I found a limited set of notes that will produce a bell-like sound from a tubular chime. Using the musical scale as a reference, they fall into three categories as follows:

The 1st chime category (most bell-like) has a note range from about C2 to the C4 octave. The fundamental strike frequency is present but audibly absent, the missing fundamental, and there are a host of well pronounced overtones. Often the first overtone can also be inaudible. The perceived sound is not the fundamental strike frequency and not the overtones, but an imaginary note created by the combination of the overtones. To the ear this is a very melodious sound and clearly a bell-like sounding chime. The larger physical size of this chime for this note range causes the loudness to be quite adequate, and easily supports radiation for the many overtones. Note in the spectrum displays below, as we move up the musical scale the overtone contribution becomes less and less.

C2, Type L Copper, 3/4"          F3, Type L Copper, 3/4"


E4, Type L Copper, 3/4"The 2nd chime category (almost bell-like) has a note range from about C4 through to about the C6 octave. The fundamental strike frequency is mostly audible and some overtones contribute to the perceived sound. The perceived note is not the fundamental strike frequency and not the overtones, but a combination of both that produce a perceived musical note. The sound can be acceptable but may not be the sound you are looking for. This has an almost bell-like sound and can sound fairly good, but not particularly melodious. The loudness is acceptable but not great.






C6, Type L Copper, 3/4"The 3rd chime category (non bell-like) has a note range from about C6 through the C8 octave. Not unlike other percussion instruments this category is characterized by an audible fundamental strike frequency (a noticeable pure tone) with overtones mostly absent. Overtones have minimal contribution to the perceived musical note. This note range may not be particularly pleasing to the ear but should not be ignored as a pure tone, and is definitely a non-bell sounding chime. In addition, the loudness is typically low caused by the short length of the chime causing a low radiating surface for the higher notes. The rapid attenuation of high frequencies in the environment causes this note range to quickly diminish at a distance.




The Math

Skip the math? If your looking for DIY calculations or pre-calculated dimensions, go here.

I am not aware of calculations for a tube closed at one end. i.e. a chime with an end cap.

This math is for a tube open at both ends.

The bending natural frequency for a tube open at both ends is predicted by Euler's equation where:

 w = (B X L)2  x (E X I/(rho X l4))

w - frequency radian per second  -  for frequency in cycles per second (Hz),  f = w/(2  x  π)
E - modulus of elasticity
I - area moment of inertia = π  x d3  x  t/8 for a thin wall round tube
d - mean diameter
t - wall thickness
rho = mass per unit length = Area x mass per unit volume = π  x d  x t  x density
L - length of tube

w= (B  x L)2 x (d/I2) x (1/8) x (E/density)

(B x L)2  - Constants based on the boundary conditions for a wind chime (Free-Free Beam)
(B x L)= 22.373 for the first natural frequency.
(B x l)= 61.7 for the second natural frequency.
(B x L)= 121 for the third natural frequency.
(B x L)= 199.859 for the fourth natural frequency.

To get the units correct you must multiply the values inside the square root by gravity (g).
g = 386.4 in/sec2 for these units.

For a given material then the frequency of a thin wall tube reduces to:
f = constant  x  d / l2

The reduced formula is:
Area Moment of Inertia = π  x (OD^4 - ID^4)/64
                          Area = π x (OD^2 - ID^2)/4
                              K = √((Elasticity x Moment x Gravity)/(Area x Density))

Length (inches) = √(22.42 x K/(2 x π x f))

If you're curious about the circular mode (not considered here) see this

If you want additional math on the subject here is a paper by Tom Irvine


Clearly there is more to a chime than I had anticipated and I am sure I have not learned all that there is to know about the physics of a chime. This was originally a Christmas present for my daughters and not a focused research project. I am convinced that it is not necessary to hand tune a set of bell-like chimes designed for musical notes from fundamental C2 through C4 because the formula achieved the desired frequency well within 1 Hz. Tuning to achieve an accuracy closer than 1 Hz was a waste of time. However, for a fundamental note from C5 and up, good tuning is required. Good physical measurements are important to achieve the calculated accuracy.

My favorite design has changed over the years and is currently an end cap supported chime with the striker contacting the tube at the very bottom of the chime using either a tapered striker or a star striker, and having the wind rotate the chime set using a single line support for the support disk. Unfortunately, I know of no formula for calculating the length of a chime tube with an end cap. I begin with a length from standard calculations on this page and then tune by trimming off the length. End caps lower the frequency by as much as 8% to 15%, which requires removal of material to raise the tuning back to the correct vale. Yes, it's a lot of work if you want exact tuning for a tapered end!

On occasion I have added an end cap to the calculated value for an open end tube in order to gain a more bell-like sound, but not adjusted the length to regain accurate tuning. For the most part, it has been difficult to acoustically tell the difference between the un-tuned chime set with an end caps and a set of tuned chimes without end caps. Perhaps I have been lucky or maybe the natural shift caused by the end cap is consistent for all five tubes, and they remain mostly in tune.

Your particular type of wind (single-direction or turbulent) and wind speed will determine the best choice for both the wind sail and for the chime striker. Rotating the chime-set works well to solve the dingdong sound caused from low velocity single directions winds.

Another phenomena we observed, but did not have time to investigate, was the simultaneous production of sound from the natural bending mode of the chime coinciding with the resonance of the air column for the tube. The good news is that another engineer, Chuck at Chuck's Chimes, has done an excellent job detailing this effect. I suggest you give this a look-see. He has excellent information and calculations to accomplish this special effect.


I saw some chimes on a tropical island made out of sticks of coral. (worn staghorn coral on the beach, which was there by the millions of tons due to hurricanes.) So I brought back a bunch of sticks of coral. But trying to get maximum wind chime effect is hard, especially on the first try. The coral is much heavier than metal, but it does have a sort of ceramic waterford ring to it. I cannot find any specific plans, but I was leaning towards orienting many of the pieces horizontally for maximum instability and strikes. I also wanted to stick to natural material and make the top support out of maybe two longer pieces of coral in an X configuration.

My first attempt would be to carefully measure down from each end 22.4% (.224) and tie a monofilament fishing line or perhaps a braided line at those points. I have no experience with coral chimes but they should follow the basic laws of physics. They will probably need a robust striker because of their small size.

We don't often have a lot of wind here, so a design that doesn't need a lot of wind is important. Somebody gave me a cheap little metal commercial set and it basically never made any sound because there is rarely a stiff breeze. What are your thoughts about this?

The force from the wind is cube law, meaning for a doubling of wind speed, you have nine times more force acting on the chime. So little changes in the design can have a big effect on the sound. The best advice I can give regarding spacing of the chime elements for low wind, high wind, etc. is experimentation. Every special design I’ve done for myself and with other artist has never been a standard design. As such, I continually have to build several prototypes where we change the spacing vertically and in your case, horizontally. Most of my discoveries about chimes have been from a large number of failures. On the surface, chimes seems so incredibly simple, but the trick is in the implementation.

I was wondering if I wanted to make a rod based wind chime twice as big the pre-calculated numbers could I multiply the pre-calculated numbers by 2 (to get double the length) and still have the same tones as the pre-calculated numbers describe (only a bit deeper)?

You're almost there but not quite. The relationship is not linear, but there is an easy way to do this.
Say for example, you had a one inch steel rod and you want to go lower than the attached table will allow, i.e. below 32.7 Hz.

Begin on the Metal Rod Length Calculator sheet in the calculator and enter the type of metal the rod diameter, one inch, steel.
From there you will notice the lowest is 32.7 Hz with a length of 74 3/16 inches.

Then go to the next sheet, Metal Rod Ratio Calculator. See chart to the right.

Enter what you know, i.e. 74 3/16 inches or 74.19 and the frequency 32.7 Hz
And the desired frequency (Half of the original) 16.35
The result will be a length of 104 15/16 inches long with a hang point of 23 ½ inches

Repeat this procedure for each note you wish to lower.

Should I start at C3 or C5, I was fortunate in coming across a 20’ stick of 1.625OD x 1.375ID aluminum pipe. According to your spreadsheet calculations I’ve got just enough to make the C-9 chord starting with C3. In reading your info I see that some of the lower frequencies may not be heard more than a few inches away. Given the size of this pipe do you think we’ll be able to hear the C3 or might we be better off making two shorter sets starting with C5? The thought of the longer pipe set seems really neat!

As long as you have enough to begin at C3, by all means start there. You won’t hear much of C3 but the other notes will be much more melodious and bell like. I often start there or C2, depending on the physical limitations for mounting and the intended application.

Can I use nickel-silver tubing? Is there a way to calculate the hang points based on your tables? ID on one tube is 0.5", the other 2 are 5/8". My son, in the marching band, believes his trombone is a weapon of mass destruction. After 3 rebuilds, I have tubing from the leftover parts that I wish to turn into a wind chime. I asked the mechanic about the composition of the tubing (brass or ?) and he said it was nickel-silver. Sure enough, it has a pleasant high-pitched ring despite the long (30") length. However, the hang points don't seem to correspond to the brass or aluminum columns in your table.

Only two issues effect the sound from one metal to another, density and elasticity. So, the density of nickel-silver is 0.31 Lbm / in3 and the elasticity is 18,500,000 psi. You can see from the chart at the right,  nickel-sliver is very close to copper. I would suggest using the copper charts for the pre-calculated measurements or use copper in the DIY calculator. The most important measurement is to hang the chime at the 22.4% point.

On the data page you can enter the actual density and elasticity to produce an exact calculation

Can I mix sizes and metals? Yes you can mix sizes within  a given metal. Make sure you use the correct chart for each size and wall thickness for a given metal. You can also mix metals but be careful here, some combinations sound wonderful and other not so good.

Wondering why these tubes sound better when the striker is placed an inch below center on the shortest tube with the tops all the same height? When the striker is placed an inch below the center of the longest the short tube has little to no sound?

We want to avoid exact dead center for any chime and when they are center aligned that is an easy task. But when they are top or bottom aligned the striker can inadvertently come too close to dead center for one of the chimes. Because chime length is not a linear relationship as we move up and down the musical scale, exact placement of the striker for every different set is slightly different. You did the right thing by experimenting to find the best sound. On most every set, I generally adjust the striker higher or lower to achieve the best sound from every chime.

I am working on a Mark Tree (bar chimes, used by percussionists and drummers, pictured right). I checked on the commercial ones and all of them are using the same hang point on all the bars. I think it may be because it is cheaper and quicker making them this way, and looks good hanging, but does it sound as equally good as the 22.4% hanging point method? I'd like to hear your opinion about this topic!


A bar or chime can be supported at any point along its length and will ring when struck, but not well. Good sustain time and rich contribution from the overtones, that produce the bell-like sound, can only occur when supported at the 22.4% location. All bars in the set pictured here will sound distinctly different from each other, but will not yield the bell-like sound because of improper mounting.

As a footnote, my neighbor (a very practical engineer) built a xylophone and did some experimenting with support points for the bars. His choice was 22% from each end because that location provided the best sustain time and the best sound. I completely agree with his findings (22.4%).

Is there a length where a tube of a given size will not resonant as intended? Specifically, I cut a tube of 1.5 inch thinwall steel conduit to 1002mm, and it sounds higher in pitch than an adjacent 730 mm tube, which should sound higher. I just can't wrap my head around this.


You discovered part of the missing fundamental phenomena.  The chime tube appears not to resonant at the design frequency but it does resonate. The 1002mm length has a fundamental resonance of about 193Hz and that frequency is difficult to hear because of the low sensitivity of the ear at the lower frequencies (mostly below 300 Hz). Therefore, you will hear the second overtone better which is 193 Hz x 2.76 = 523Hz. The fundamental for the 730mm chime is about 384Hz which is getting more into the sensitive range of the ear and you are much more likely to hear it's fundamental as compared to the fundamental for the 1002mm chime.

Does a coating (powder coat, anodize or paint) affect the tone quality, tuning, or note sustain of the pipe?
Some chimes are anodized or appear to have a clear coat type finish for weather resistance or aesthetics I assume.

In general, the answer is no. However, if you were to apply a thick latex paint type coating, the extra mass would have a noticeable affect, perhaps to the point of killing resonance. However, a thin powder coat or anodizing will have no effect on the design frequency or sustain time.

Can I use anodized aluminum and is it expensive?
I recently came across your website as I researched the idea of building a set of wind chimes for my wife for our anniversary. I spent several hours reading your website and have found more than enough step by step info on how to do what I want to do. You absolutely answered every question I had and several I did not know to ask, except maybe one. Does it make a difference in sound or cost to get powder coated or anodized aluminum?


No, there is no difference in the sound created using either power coated or anodized metal. The only slight exception is if there is a heavy clear coat over the power coat. A light coat is okay. A heavy coat slightly reduces the sustain time, but not much.

Cost wise I don’t have much experience here. I have seen very reasonably priced anodized aluminum on the internet, nearly the cost of un-anodized. If you’re buying tubing already power coated, as opposed to having it done in a custom shop, I would not expect it to be expensive.

The hang point is usually close but far from exact on chimes I have measured. Should you drill the hang point hole at the center of the calculated measurement or is the hang point where the string actually contacts the tube (upper edge of the hole)?


The location for small holes, 1/8 inch or less, can be exactly on the mark. However, holes larger than 1/8 inch (particularly ¼ inch and larger) should be positioned, as you suggest, so the upper edge of the hole is where the support line touches the chime.

Does the hole size that you drill for the hang point matter?

Yes, if the hole is large, relative to the diameter of the tube, it can affect the design frequency, but a small hole has no effect. I personally use 1/8 inch for many of the chimes .If you need a hole larger than 1/8 inch, position it so upper edge of the hole in on the hang point mark.

Chimes not Chiming!
I recently bought two, not cheap, wind chimes – and they do not chime in the absence of hurricane gale winds! Is there anything we can do to get them to catch any breeze that happens by? Would the CD section in your article be all he needs? I have spent a long time on the internet looking for some quick fix but can’t find anything. The power company recently cut down all of the shrubs we have been carefully tending for years and now we have dreadful road noise. The chimes were an optimistic detraction to that new situation.


Yes, there are several options. You describe a common condition where the sail is either too small or too heavy to supply a good jerk to the striker. Without seeing the set of chimes directly, I might suggest you replace the wind sail with something larger and lighter weight. As a test, I use an old CD for a temporary sail, just to make the point that it needs to be light weight and fairly large in size. Often an old CD is not large enough. You can use anything that pleases your eye that meets the size and light weight requirements from your testing.

Where do I get mounting pins, what size is recommended and how are they held in position?

I typically use 1/8 inch brass tubing that can be found at my local hobby store (where a person can buy model airplane parts, model trains, model cars and the like ) and occasionally at home improvement stores like Home Depot, Lowe’s, Menards, etc.
If you insert a1/8 inch rod or tube into a 1/8 inch hole, it can be loose. Use a ball-peen hammer to slightly flatten each end of the pin, for a force fit, or use a spot of glue. With copper chimes, the pin can be soldered. Then, file off the excess, leaving little to no evidence of the pin.

How does the string stay in the middle of the  pin so not to slide off to one side?

A spot of super glue, hot glue or epoxy will do the trick. A knot works well also.

Is it possible to support a chime in a way that it is fixed, for example with a nail, without losing its tune? Also is it possible to fix it in a way that I won't need to drill a hole in it? I would like to build a music box that uses a chime tube.

Noninvasive Horizontal Chime Support


Yes, the chime can be structured for a fixed support using a number of methods. Any method should locate the support at 22.4% from both ends.


The noninvasive method uses the traditional one wrap string method for supporting an orchestra grade chime or bar, as shown right, courtesy of Woodstock Chimes. Located above or below the chime, either method works equally well.


An invasive and more rugged mount can be from a stud on one or both sides of the mounting location as shown left. A locking nut on the outside of the chime will secure the stud in place and allow attachment to the supporting structure, as often found in playground chimes. I would avoid inserting a bolt through the chime tube, because tightening nuts on both sides will stress the tube causing an altered tune and less sustain time.





How do I attach the support line to the support pin when the pin is down in the tube?
I plan to make a chime set using 2 inch steel electrical conduit. The largest chime would have a hang point of 9 5/8 inches from the top. How do I get the line around the pin when it is 9 5/8 inches from the top?


Hold the tube horizontal with the support pin also horizontal. Tilt the tube to be mostly vertical, but not quite. Feed the line down the tube on the bottom side, passing one side of the pin and out the other end. You may need to attach a small weight to the end of the line, like a pinch-on fishing line sinker, to provide sufficient weight so the line will feed all the way through. You can also blow on the tube or use compressed air to force the line out the other end.


Next, rotate the tube 180 degrees and starting from the other end, feed the line back down the tube, passing the opposite side of the pin. Pull both ends of the line up to the pin from the top end, and tie a slip knot. Pull the knot taught around the pin as shown to the right. You may need to adjust the line to be in the center of the pin using a coat hanger wire or other handy utensil.


It may be difficult to see inside a dark tube. Place a white paper on the floor and hold the tube above the paper as you peer into the tube. This generally allows enough light in to see the location for the line centered on the pin.


I want to use a tapered striker for (6) 2" chimes, and the calculated striker size is 3.25", would that be the top or the bottom diameter?

That should be the largest diameter, i.e. bottom diameter if tapered or center diameter if bullet nose.

Best striker shape and weight for large tubes?
My son gave me 3 stainless tubes. They have a diameter of 6 inches and between 5-6 feet long. In a way, my chimes will be similar to the ones on your site from Craig Hewison, except he has 5 chimes where I have 3. This means the spacing for my chimes will be greater. My plan is to line up the bottoms of the chimes. My thought is to use a circular wooden disk of either the tapered edge or knife edge or straight edge design. I would say my home area has light to moderate winds, for the most part. Do you have comments on these 3 designs?


My preference is a bullet nose edge for large tubes. Heavy chimes need a robust strike and a rounded edge striker last longer, and can be simple to fabricate. Regarding the weight, I would start with a 1.5 inch thick section of treated lumber, not any thicker, maybe ¾ inch could work. There is a close relationship between a striker’s weight and the ability of the sail to adequately jerk the striker. Because of that relationship, I cannot suggest an exact weight but I do suggest experimentation.  I often find myself making two or three different strikers before I am satisfied with the overall performance form both the striker and the sail.

Because of three tubes, I would not suggest the orthogonal sail. Once that sail get to swinging, it can depart a lot of energy and I am concerned that would cause the striker to escape to the outside of the set, not at all bad, but it can be a nuisance. I often need to experiment with two or three strikers and sails to achieve the desired sound. The good news is the sail can be larger than normal because a large sail doesn’t look so big next to large chimes.

I want deep bass chimes that are resonate
I saw somewhere on the site a casual comment about a chime not hitting C2. Did I misunderstand? I want to buy some 2 inch EMT and tune them in a Hirajoshi scale at C2 E F# G and B. But, that's $75 worth of EMT I'll be hacking up. Do you think it will work? I just want a really deep bass set of chimes and I am hoping 2 inch EMT of 66 to 9 inches (using your EMT table) will get me something deep and resonant. Any advice?


Another excellent question and you read correctly. The chime will produce the C2 note at 65.4 Hz, no problem, but will not hear it? To hear 65.4 Hz we need to move a lot of air, thus the need for woofers used in sound systems. If you place your ear about two inches from the long tube, WOW, you hear the 65.4 Hz, it’s actually there. But, back up two feet and you won’t hear it.


What you actually hear is a chime note that is missing the both fundamental (65.4 Hz) and the first overtone (180 Hz). You hear the remaining overtones.


So, what to do? You can still make the long tubes cut for the C2 octave. The larger size will enhance the overtones (second overtone, 353 Hz and up) and you will hear lower notes than without long tubes, but it will not be the actual C2 note.  If you happen to have a small public address amplifier and microphone, place the mic about an inch from the tube. Wow!  C2 is actually there, but it needs amplification to be audible.

Links & Sources

Woodworking for Mere Mortals A fun site for many projects including an excellent video about using the resources from this site.

The Sound of Bells This site has not only informative pages on bell sounds and tuning, but offers free software that lets you listen to the effects of overtones and allows you to tune your bell or chime using a sound card and microphone.

Pitch Perception Psychoacoustics of pitch perception.

The Strike Note of Bells 

Chuck's Chimes Another engineer, Chuck, has an excellent web site for chime calculations and information.

* Equations from paper by Tom Irvine  Web Site 

An interesting physics class, student project, authored by Professor G. William Baxter and Assistant Professor Keith M. Hagenbuch, both from Penn State, Erie, PA

Engineering student project by S. Scott Moor, Assistant Professor of Engineering and coordinator of First-Year Engineering at Indiana University, Purdue University – Fort Wayne.

The Physics of Musical Instruments by Neville H. Fletcher available at eBay HERE that has a great chapter on chimes and bells.

The missing fundamental effect

Fletcher/Munson Curves  Fletcher/Munson Curves with ISO 

Large Chime Set


About me: I am a retired electronics engineer with a passion for investigating technical issues, occasionally surrounded with mystery and  often bridging several fields of technology. In 2001 when building chime-sets for my daughters as Christmas presents, I asked what makes a chime a good chime. Little did I know what I was getting into when I asked that question. While I would not consider myself an expert by any definition, these findings can be valued for the understanding of tubular bell chimes. My experience with this project has evolved over time and is presented to help you design and build a great set of tubular bell wind chimes. Updates continue almost monthly as development goes forward.

Leland Hite (Lee) K8CLI
All Rights Reserved 1996/2017