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The 5 Most Badass Musical Instruments Ever Built

Whether it's rock and roll with its blistering solos, classical with its ominous overtones, or jazz with its black people, music is already pretty damn cool. The only way it could get cooler? These:

#5.
The Great Stalacpipe Organ

'Lithophone' is the fancy music term for 'thing that hits rocks with sticks.' And to think our second grade teacher called that 'anger issues' (we were clearly just musically inclined, Mrs. Davis). The Great Stalacpipe Organ is the world's largest lithophone, and it is located inside of a cave. Wait, did we say "located inside of"? Sorry, we meant "built out of."

The organ is comprised of 37 stalactites scattered over 3.5 acres of the Luray Caverns in Virginia. When a key is pressed on a central console, a mallet strikes one of many gargantuan stalactites scattered throughout the cave, producing a specific note which resonates throughout the entirety of its 64 acres.

The instrument was conceived by Pentagon employee Leyland Sprinkle, in part to make up for his hilariously precocious name. Appropriately, Sprinkle's brainchild came about after damaging the brain of his child. In a trip to the caves in 1956, Leyland's son Robert hit his head on a stalactite, and instead of phoning the paramedics or dropping to his knees to curse a cruel and uncaring God, Sprinkle became fascinated by the sound of the vibrating rocks. He then spent the next 3 years shaving stalactites to get them perfectly in pitch, and the next 50 years presumably driving away the invading Molemen with his giant earth organ. They have notoriously sensitive ears, you see. That's Moleman Anatomy 101 right there.


"You see, kids, if the music ever stops, our surface world will surely fall beneath their savage claws."

#4.
The Nano Guitar

Everybody knows the guitar: It's been famously played by everyone from douchebags unsuccessfully trying to impress girls, to even bigger douchebags very successfully trying to impress girls. The only way it could be more badass is if you scaled that bastard up, and ravaged the eardrums of Squares with your skyscraper-sized axe. Or you could take the opposite tack: Build a fully functional guitar...about the size of a red blood cell. And that's been done. This is the Nanoguitar, developed by Dustin Carr of the Cornell Nanofabrication Facility in 1997:


"Yeah, sweetheart. The guitar is just in my blood, you know? Literally. There's like eight thousand tiny guitars in my veins."

Its entire length is about one-twentieth of the diameter of a piece of hair, and each is string only 100 atoms wide. Unfortunately, that means it's so small that the music it plays is inaudible to human ear, and that takes a little away from its coolness: Guitars aren't bitchin' because they're so quiet and peaceful. But it makes up cool points in other ways, like the method for using it: This guitar is played by firing lasers at the strings. So you can clumsily pick out the Bond theme on the Nanoguitar, then turn right around and use your pick to kill him.


"Talk? No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to lay down a bitchin' solo."

There is some talk that scientists might be able to use the Nanoguitar to measure bacteria, which might, in turn, lead to faster and more accurate diagnoses but we're not getting into that. Because rock & roll ain't about being useful, baby. Don't try to tame them; they're Nanoguitarists.

#3.
Lego Harpsichord

A harpsichord is an early precursor to the piano that lacked the ability to produce notes of varying volumes. And that's already pretty cool: It's like a piano suffering from Voice Immodulation Disorder. This one is a bit different, though, in that is made entirely out of Legos: The world's most frustrating building material. Every year, countless children have struggled with the intricate instructions and easily losable materials that come with every Lego set, fumbling through buckets of pieces trying to find a two-peg hinge until they start crying in frustration and their older brother comes in to beat them up for it.

And that's the sort of drama that comes along with a little 100 piece Lego set. The Lego Harpsichord is not little. The Lego Harpsichord weighs 150 lbs, it has 61 keys and its strings exert 325 lbs of tension. It took the incredibly patient Henry Lim two years to build, and is comprised of over 100,000 Lego pieces (or approximately 20 Millennium Falcons).


At Cracked, we measure everything in Millennium Falcon Units

Obviously, the Lego Harpsichord is not mass produced, which means the only way to get your hands on one is to build it yourself. Word of warning though: The designer originally set about to build a piano, but quit because it was too hard. He had to settle for a harpsichord instead.


Man, we don't even have the patience to fail at this project.

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