Homemade Instruments

DIY Guiro

What is a Guiro?

A guiro is an untuned percussion instrument, often made from wood. It comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, most often a hollow cylinder with ridges all over the sides of the instrument. It is played by rhythmically rubbing a stick along the side of the guiro, like this (from about 20 seconds into the video):

Making the Guiro

This is probably one of the easiest instruments to “make” at home, and can involve as little effort as just finding a bottle and a stick, or wooden spoon. Yep, that can be it.

As you can see from the picture above, I used a plastic fizzy drinks bottle and a wooden spoon to act as my guiro. I also thought I would see what it would sound like to use a reusable water bottle as my guiro.

Firstly I tried out the plastic fizzy drink bottle, and ran my wooden spoon along the long side of the bottle:

Then I tried out doing the exact same thing with one of my children’s reusable water bottles. To be honest we have more of those in the house than the fizzy drinks bottles, so I thought it would be worth a try. I actually think that this particular water bottle worked far better at replicating the sound of a real guiro. It was louder as well – many of the homemade instruments I make are very quiet (which can be a blessing with small children around), but this was was a little louder and more satisfying to play. The sound produced with this bottle was all down to the plastic ridges on the side of the bottle, which many do not have. But if you have a similar water bottle at home, it makes for an excellent “homemade” guiro to play with.

I decided to paint my plastic fizzy drink bottle to make it look prettier, which is something you can’t do with the reusable bottle; well, I could have had a go at painting the purple bottle but I don’t think my children would have forgiven me for it! To paint the clear plastic bottle, I used

  • Water based paint that we have at home.
  • PVA glue.
  • Paintbrush.
  • Bowl to mix the paint and glue.

This was also very easy to do. I simply mixed the PVA glue with some paint and then painted it onto the bottle. With one coat, the bottle was still very streaky, so it definitely needed two coats of paint/glue to cover the bottle. The bottle took quite a long time to dry.

Playing with the Guiro

My little girl could hardly wait to get her hands on the painted bottle. She thought it looked like a lot of fun! Whenever I make these instruments, I demonstrate to the children how they can be played, and then see what they do with them. Invariably, one or both children comes up with a number of different uses for them that I wasn’t expecting. With the guiro, my little girl had a go at playing it the way I showed her, then it became a drum, a microphone and a spyglass!

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