Mar 1, 2022

Most instruments are made from wood, brass, or other common materials. This is mostly due to the durability of these materials, and the long-lasting nature of the instruments that are created.

But there is one material some people use to create instruments that don’t last very long.


There are, of course, some quirks to using ice to construct instruments. For one, and especially with ice violins, basses, and guitars, sometimes ice instruments spontaneously implode thanks to the brittle nature of ice.

Another setback is how long it takes to build an ice instrument. A mandolin or violin can take five or six days to make, while even larger instruments can take months!

And of course, there’s the issue of weight. Some ice instruments are so heavy that they have to be played suspended from the ceiling with mountaineering carabiners attached to steel cables.

But none of that is enough to stop some ingenious people from creating the unique instruments! Let’s take a look at a few ice instruments, and one that anyone can make at home (as long as you live somewhere that gets ice-cold!)


When you dive into the world of ice instruments, you’ll discover that when it comes to percussion, there are a few different ways to create ice drums.

The first is probably what came to mind when you read the heading; an actual drumset made entirely of ice. It may seem strange, but it has been done! A few years ago, the drummer for a Swedish band called The Hellacopters used a kit made entirely from ice. And you know what? It sounded pretty darn good -with the possible exception of the cymbals. You’ll see what I mean below:

Another way to make ice drums is, perhaps, a little less intuitive, but a whole lot easier! Why go through the process of molding ice into traditional drums when you can just go out and drum on a lake?!

A group of Russian percussionists discovered this natural musical potential when they began “playing” southern Siberia’s Lake Baikal like a drum. The unique sound is more like steel drums than anything you would expect to hear in Russia!


Tim Linhart, a founding member of the merging art form of “ice music,” has been working for 36 years to perfect his creations. The very first ice instrument he ever created was a gigantic bass called the “otcobass.” It was created with a metal “spine” to hold the string tension, along with a hollow body. Thanks to the difficulty in creating and playing an instrument of this sort, strings from the bass end of a piano were used in place of the standard cello string.

And yet, this first instrument was a disaster, as it exploded while Tim was tuning it.

But from his mistakes, Tim has made the process of creating string instruments from ice into an art form. Over the years he has created an incredible array of ice instruments, including:

  • Violin
  • Viola
  • Cello
  • Bass
  • Guitar
  • Mandolin
  • Banjo
  • And many more!

Check out his work in action:


Do you live in a climate that gets bitter cold during the winter months and you want to join in on the ice instrument fun? Then you’re in luck, because there’s one type of ice instrument anyone can make or play, as long as their winters are cold enough: the pagophone!

So, what is a pagophone? It’s pretty simple actually. Just Imagine a xylophone made entirely of ice, and you’ve landed on it!

Want to make one? Here’s how:

Step One:

Make a mold for each bar of your pagophone. Each ice bar should be a little longer than the last to make sure they each have a unique sound. If you want to be fancy and have access to a 3D printer, creating different-sized molds will be a breeze. But you can just as easily make them from cardboard! Just be sure to line them with plastic so the ice slides right out.

Fill them with water, and leave them outside to freeze overnight.

Step Two:

Once your bars have frozen nicely, it’s time to remove them from their molds and begin to set up your instrument. Using a pair of boards or sticks, lay your bars across them like railroad tracks. You may want to put a layer of rubber or fabric between the bars and boards, to keep vibrations down and create a more “true” sound. Feel free to adjust the ice and the boards to create the best sound you can.

Step Three:

It’s time to play! Try out different mallets to create the perfect sound without breaking your ice bars. But don’t worry if you do break it! You can always make more, and you’ll learn more each time and create better-sounding bars, as well as the very best mallets to use.

Step Four:

Share your ice music! By making your own ice instrument, you’re joining a special community that makes unique music, so go out and show it off!

Do you want to learn to play music with an instrument that’s a little more permanent? Do your kids show an interest in learning to play music? Either way, there’s a place for you at The Music Studio! Our professional instructors offer a wide range of musical programs for all ages. So whether you’re looking for a new instructor, hoping to pick up where you left off, or are on the hunt for someone to help get you or your little ones started, we’ve got a program for you!

Check out all our classes, lessons, and programs, all now available online as well, and sign up today! It’s never too early or too late to start a life filled with music!