Build a Squarpent: Finger Holes


Place the mouthpiece in the receiver, and blow a 'C' two octaves below 'middle C'. Using a musical instrument tuner, or comparing against an accurate pitch played on another instrument, determine if the 'C' is flat (it probably will be). If it is, cut about 1/2" off of the bell end of the tube. Repeat the tuning check and trim more until the note is in tune (reference A=440 Hz). The tube should not have to be cut shorter than 91".

The Squarpent has six finger holes, arranged in two sets of three. Measure along the center line, starting from the end of the mouthpiece receiver, and mark the hole positions. Refer to the downloadable dimensions document for the locations.

The photo shows the hole markings being checked against a piece of twine which has been marked with the positions of the holes on a real serpent.

Once the hole positions are marked, hold the instrument in playing position, and place finger tips on the hole marks. Extend the middle fingers to more comfortable positions off the center line, but still adjacent to the marks. Mark the new middle finger tip positions.

Drill small pilot holes at the six marks, then bore them out to 1/2" diameter. Make sure to use a drill speed suitable to wood and the type of bit being used, in order to avoid creating burrs or otherwise damaging the wood near the holes.

Once the holes have been made, use a rotary cutter (Dremel or similar), or a round file / rasp, to undercut the holes. Refer to the downloadable drawings for more details on this.

Undercutting finger holes has the effect of making them function as somewhat larger holes. Serpents have small holes because of the need to cover them with the finger tips, and this reduces their effectiveness. The undercutting improves the situation.

All photos made using a Kodak DC240 digital camera.

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Copyright Paul Schmidt 2002
added August 2002