Make your own free website on

Tutorial for a Gourd Rainstick
by Kasin Hunter

In June, 2001 I conducted a workshop for the SAGA on making Rainsticks from gourds. Bill Hunter volunteered his evening and videotaped the event. Much of the following are pictorial grabs from that workshop.
(Instructional text by Kasin Hunter.)

Rainsticks are musical instruments in the group of self-sounding instruments called idiophones. The sound from a rainstick comes from the impact of tiny hard objects like rice or beans striking an internal matrix of wooden sticks. Click on the music run picture below to hear what a rainstick sounds like, then press BACK to return to this page.

music run
If you need a player for the sound,
Here is the url for a free Quicktime player.

To make a Rainstick out of a gourd, you will need the following items: a hard-shelled gourd, thin masking tape - 1 inch or thinner, string, saw, plier with wire cutter edge or a pair of nippers, fruit skewers, fill (to be discussed later), glue like Tacky Glue, a #2 pencil, a Dremel or drill, a drill bit (to be discussed later), Plaster of Paris (optional.)
Below is shown from left to right: a cut gourd, extension cord, gourd seeds and pulp, a mini-jig saw, masking tape, Dremel drill, package of fruit skewers.
Tools needed
There were questions the night of the workshop about what size skewers to use. I use fruit skewers found in table top supply stores, discount stores, and the like. Here is a picture and a paperclip to show thickness:

Here are some gourd shapes to choose from for your rainstick. The snake, the bottleneck,
the club.
I like using the club or large, straight snake gourd.

Snake Gourd bottleneck gourd Club Gourd
cut gourd Wash gourd; soak in water/bleach solution to loosen the skin; peal skin with copper scrubber or straight-edged knife.

Cut the gourd approximately 1/4 from the end. A SAGA member is using my mini-jig - a small jigsaw - to cut open her gourd.
Using a minijig to cut the gourd

Clean out all fibre and seeds. The better it's cleaned, the better sound you'll get.
cleaning out the gourd

This is a vital step
to the sound of the intrument.
show inside
Inspect the insides well for any
leftover fibre or seeds.
inspecting interior of gourd

To clean out the innards, you can use a bent coathanger, a horse hoof scraper, a bent piece of metal flashing, shaken small pebbles -- whatever will clean well and reach the bottom of the long gourd.
cleaning with coat hanger Kasin offers helps in cleaning details

To page two.