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What Is a Kazoo?
History of the Kazoo
Kazoo Design, Construction, &Maintenance
How to Tune Your Kazoo
Tune a kazoo?
You get a new kazoo, put it in your mouth and as
You probably know by this time if you blow, nothing happens.
If you hum, you get a sound;
All kazoos will not sound the same, in fact there are many variations even in the same model by the same maker.
A lot of people figure, the sound you get is the sound you are stuck with.
Not so. You can change the way it sounds.
You can change the sound by the way you play
see Kazoo Science
about some ways to vary the sound by the way you play.
You can sometimes also change the basic sound your kazoo makes.
Whether you can do that and how to do it, depends on the way it is made.
The "submarine" type kazoo is currently the most common shape, but all of them are not the same.
Lots of different companies make kazoos slightly different.
Some are metal with removable tops that screw on.
Some are plastic with removable tops that are pushed in.
Some are plastic with non-removable tops that are glued in. There is not much you can change about those.
But if you have one with a removable top
Inside you will find a the thing that can be called a membrane, a diaphragm or a resonator.
When you hum into the kazoo, the membrane vibrates, which amplifies and distorts the sound.
The amount of amplification and distortion varies depending on several things.
If you change any of these things, it changes the sound.
One change you can make is how far down the lid sits in the turret.
It can sometimes can be done with the push in type, but it is easier to do if it is a screw in type.
Hum into the mouthpiece (the wide end).
Loosen and tighten the top while humming one note. Notice the difference.
Hum some highest notes you can and hum some lowest notes you can.
Unscrew the top some. Again, hum some highest notes you can and hum some lowest notes you can.
Listen for the difference.
Looser tends to improve the very low notes.
Tighter tends to improve the very high notes.
You want adjust it to where you can get the sound you like best for all the notes of your range.
A more advanced technique is to have the top fairly loose, but not so much it will come off; hold the kazoo with one hand and hold the top with the other and push it down or up, changing the tone while playing.
Another change you can make is to change the membrane itself.
Different companies put different kinds of membranes in their kazoos.
1) What it is made of-- or more specifically it's qualities. See Membranes for listings of various materials that can be used and their qualities.
2) is it laid in there loose or
3) mounted on a ring of something--usually cardboard-- the tension
a) (how tight or loose is the membrane glued in),
b) is it placed in the turret with the membrane on the top or the bottom of the ring.
c) Sometimes the ring is punched off center so the membrane is only partially over the hole.
4) How far the top is screwed (or pushed) in
The farther in the tighter the membrane is held. Some kazoos are made in a way that the further in the lid is the more tension is placed on the membrane, that is the tighter the membrane is stretched in the ring it is glued to.