How To Make A Gourd Instrument

The difficulty with how to make a gourd instrument is deciding what kind to make. A gourd can be made into a drum, banjo, or a Shekere. A Shekere is a gourd covered by a beaded net that is shaken to make musical sounds.

  • To make a gourd instrument, you will need:
  • Gourd
  • Nylon string
  • Beads
  • Scrub brush or sponge
  • Hacksaw
  • Metal coat hanger
  • Lighter
  • Polyurethane coating
  • Paint brush


  1. Prepare the gourd. Wash the dried gourd with detergent, water, and a scrub brush or sponge with an abrasive surface. Wash until the gourd surface is completely clean and free of blemishes.
  2. Mark the neck of the gourd for cutting the handle. Leave the neck long enough to fit comfortably in your hand. Use a hacksaw to cut the neck of the gourd at the mark.
  3. Open the wire hanger and straighten it. Insert the end of the hanger into the gourd and gently scrape out the seeds and fiber until the inside is completely clean.
  4. Create the beaded net that covers the Shekere. The net will start at the base of the neck and end where the bottom of the gourd begins. Measure the length of the net area. Cut a length of nylon string long enough to tie around the neck of the gourd. Use a lighter to burn each end of the nylon string pieces to avoid unraveling. Tie the nylon string around the neck loosely to create the collar.
  5. Cut 20 to 30 (or more for larger gourds) lengths of nylon string 8 times the length of the net area and burn the ends with a lighter.
  6. Attach each nylon string to the collar by folding it in half, inserting the middle loop under the collar (from bottom to top) and pulling it through. Feed both ends of the string through the loop and pull to tighten in a slip knot. Space all the nylon strings evenly around the collar.
  7. Thread a bead on the first string. Thread a bead on one string of the next pair of strings. Push the beads to the top and tie the beaded stings together in a loose loop knot. Continue this pattern around the gourd until the first row of the net is complete. Make the second row by repeating the steps. Repeat until the net reaches the edge of the bottom of the gourd. Tie the loose ends of the nylon strings from the net together (like a ponytail) with a length of nylon string.

Tips: Choose the shape gourd that best suits the instrument you want to make. To make a Shekere (beaded rattle) you will need a gourd with a long neck. The gourd seeds can be easily grown. Germinate the seeds on a damp paper towel then planted. If you are drying the gourd yourself, hang it in a dry, warm area. Wipe off any mold every few weeks to avoid rot. It can take several months to dry a gourd. The gourd is dry when it is brown, hard, and lightweight. Gourds crack easily so handle the dried gourd carefully through the entire process.

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