How to Make a Lyre Instrument

Written by athena murphy
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How to Make a Lyre Instrument
The lyre is part of the harp family of instruments. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

The Greek god Apollo receives credit for uniting the lyre with singing and bringing it to prominence as an instrument. The legend says that Apollo competed against Marsyas and his flute in a song contest. Apollo's union of instrument and voice, "a combination never before attempted," won him the contest.

A lyre is a stringed instrument belonging to the harp family. Different geographical locations throughout Europe and the Middle East feature lyres of varying body shapes and numbers of strings. However, the basic design of the lyre includes a tailpiece, two arms and a crossbar.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Drill with 1/4 wood bit
  • Pencil or marker
  • Oval Wooden picture frame, approximately 15 inches lengthwise
  • Wooden moulding, 12 inches long in style matching the oval frame
  • Wood glue
  • Clamps for glue drying
  • Six nylon guitar strings
  • Six "3-per-side" Classical guitar tuners on metal mount with mounting screws
  • Phillip's-head jeweller's screwdriver
  • Six drawing pins
  • Digital guitar tuner or pitch pipe

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  1. 1

    Place the moulding on a work surface with the flat backside facing you. Place the guitar tuners' metal mounts left-to-right across the moulding.

  2. 2

    Mark the centre of each tuner on the moulding. Drill holes through the moulding at each of the six marks. Place the tuners through the holes. Screw the mounts onto the back of the moulding.

  3. 3

    Place the oval frame flat on the work surface. Divide the oval frame approximately into thirds visually. Lay the moulding on top of the frame within the bottom third of the frame. Position the moulding so that the tuners are within the oval and the moulding spans a completely across the frame's curved sides.

  4. 4

    Glue the moulding to the frame. Clamp the moulding and frame together. Allow adequate drying according to glue manufacturer's directions.

  5. 5

    Knot each guitar string approximately three inches from one end. Place the other end of each string through a tuner. Pull the string through the tuner until the knot stops against the tuner. Turn the tuner until the string winds around three times around.

  6. 6

    Grasp the string on the left. Hold it taut. Pull the string up past the top edge of the frame. Push a thumb tack partially into the wood directly next to the string. Tie the string tightly around the thumb tack post. Push the tack as far into the wood until the tack base rests on the string knot. Repeat with the other five strings.

  7. 7

    Tune the strings to your desired pitches.

Tips and warnings

  • Tune your lyre in fourths or fifths to allow the most resonance, string combinations and harmony from the open strings. Trim the moulding edges to match the curve of the frame for an aesthetic upgrade.

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