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Wind Chime Questions and Answers

Is it the law, we wonder, that all websites have to have a 'FAQ' page?! Are they frequently asked? Or just sometimes? Or never, even?

Here we have opted to go for a few questions that we've been asked at least once, and hope that the responses are helpful as you decide which range of chimes is right for you. And if your question isn't here, do feel free to ask-away!

Click here to email your question

How do I order my wind chime? And why don't you have an online store?

Because there are so many options available for each chime range {number of chimes, tuning, windcatcher, engraving} it's better for us (and you!) to consider your order a personal and individual request, rather than simply a tick-box-supply of something off-the-peg. You can make an enquiry or place an order on the 'Outro' page - click on the link to open an email template, provide a few details, and we'll take it from there. Or, if it's easier, just give us a call.

Mountain Song Wind Chimes are shipped all over Australia, and many overseas destinations too. Ask us for details about delivery times and shipping costs.

Image credit: ClipartMax.com

Where are Mountain Song Wind Chimes imported from?

They're not... unless you live outside Australia, in which case the answer is 'Australia'. We are blessed and humbled to be able to live and work and create on Wurundjeri land, close to Melbourne, Victoria; which is why we say our wind chimes are "Humbly made in Australia!"

Should I hang my Mountain Song Wind Chimes under cover and away from severe weather?

Obviously, Mountain Song Wind Chimes are made for outdoor use!

To ensure it is resilient and able to withstand Australian conditions, all woodwork is finished in a quality marine-grade water-based polyurethane, manufactured specifically for Australian conditions, and often with more coats applied than the manufacturer recommends. It will, of course, eventually degrade if exposed directly and mercilessly to hot sun - it's the UV that does it - but that will take a while.

In general, if the wind chimes can be afforded some shade, perhaps hanging on a covered deck or within the protection of a tree's foliage, they will last for a very long time without too much attention.

Sheba Chimes

What is the cord used to suspend Mountain Song Wind Chimes from the support plate, and will it wear or break?

The cord we use to hang the chimes is 'micro paracord', made in the same way and to similar specifications as parachute cord, but simply not as thick. We use 1mm and 2mm micro paracord, a single length of which is easily capable of taking the weight of an entire set of our larger wind chimes (not that we make a habit of doing that).

Paracord is made with a tough stranded nylon core, over which an outer nylon mesh is woven; this makes it very strong and resilient to wear. Paracord is UV-stabilized and will not become subject to/degraded by fungal growth or rot.

Nylon grommets inserted through drilled holes in the chime walls provide a low-friction contact point on which the cord can virtually slide, ensuring mechanical wear is all but eliminated. And (just in case) in the unlikely event of breakage, all Mountain Song Wind Chimes are individually suspended from their support plate - which means that they won't all come crashing down!

Why are the cord holes drilled at different distances from the top of each chime - why not just make them all the same?

The physics of a vibrating tube dictate very specifically the point(s) at which that tube may be suspended, if the suspension arrangement is not to dampen vibration. The so-called 'node' at which the hole may be drilled must be at a position 22.42% of the overall chime length from one or other end. A surprisingly small deviation from this can have a marked effect on the chimes' ringing quality.

Why aren't Mountain Song Wind Chimes painted or coated? Won't they rust?

Aluminium wind chimes cut from pre-coated or anodized tube stock - if the tube ends were rounded or otherwise formed - would not be coated in the machined areas. (Painting, coating, or anodizing after cutting and machining is potentially a more expensive proposition).

Aluminium exposed to the atmosphere quickly and naturally forms a tough oxide layer, which - if the tube has already been polished - will maintain the polished appearance very well. Aluminium is a resilient material, and does not rust or otherwise tarnish. If the oxide layer is damaged or ruptured, it will simply re-oxodise and 'self-heal'.

Over long periods, certain salt deposits might cause surface pitting if left in place, so it is advisable just to wipe down the chimes with methylated spirits and a microfibre cloth from time to time to remove any adhering dust and residue.

What influences the musical note (vibrational frequency) of each chime, and how do you tune them?

The factors affecting the pitch of a chime are the material it is made from and its density (Mountain Song Wind Chimes are usually aluminium), the tube's outer diameter, its wall thickness, and its length. Since for a given stock of tubing the material type, diameter and thickness are already set, realistically the only remaining variable is its length.

For a particular frequency (musical note) the length can be calculated fairly easily. Inconsistencies in stock manufacture, however, invariably mean that there will be some small error introduced. Therefore, we usually cut chimes a little over-length, determine the actual pitch, and then recalculate to trim it to optimal length. And if we cut too much off... ? Then we have a handy starting point for the next one up!

The vibrational frequency of the chime is measured using a microphone and audio spectrum analyzer. It's not such an easy process - it is a characteristic of any bell (tubular or bell-shaped) that there are many simultaneous modes of vibration, all at their own - often unrelated - frequencies. Finding and measuring the one you want is a bit of an art.

Why do Mountain Song Wind Chimes hang so that the chimes are
level at the bottom - why not so that they're centred?
And why is the striker set at the lower end of the chime?

Without doubt, the best place to strike a chime (or regular bell, for that matter) is right at the tube-end/lip.* In fact, you would strike a chime near its mid-point deliberately to inhibit certain vibration modes and harmonics, to deaden the sound.**

OK, there is a bit of leeway in all of this, but in general the principle holds true. So, obviously, if there is only one striker and it must make contact with all the chimes at or close to the end of each, they must be arranged to hang more or less at the same level.

* i.e. to excite all vibrational modes  ** the effect becomes more marked with increasing chime size

Some Mountain Song Wind Chimes' windcatchers seem quite heavy - why is that?

Experience has shown that if the windcatcher is too light, there is a possibility that it might just flutter ineffectually on the end of its cord, without transferring energy to the striker and so to the chimes. If it has some 'body' to it, this is less likely to happen.

Additionally, the extra mass of the windcatcher gives it a pendulum effect hanging below the striker, which tends to make better use of the wind in gusty conditions.

What musical notes do you recommend for my Mountain Song Wind Chimes? Can they be tuned to my favourite song?

How your chimes are tuned is very much a matter of personal choice. We would recommend listening (with headphones) to the selection offered on the Listen page, while sitting in (or simply imagining) the location you intend for them. Which sounds match the 'flavour' of the place? Gut-feel is a good guide here; don't overthink it.

Chimes may indeed be tuned to some of the notes found in a song, but the order they are played in depends solely on how the wind blows! Some tunes work better than others in this respect, evoking the musical theme almost independently of the order in which the chimes are struck. If you need help, we can advise on this.

If you can get the same note from a 20mm diameter chime as a 64mm diameter chime, just by cutting each tube size to the right length, why should I buy the larger (and more expensive!) ones?

Good question! As you will see repeated many times over on this website, increasing chime size enhances richness, resonance, and sustain. A small chime will soon 'ring out'; our largest chimes will ring for three minutes or more, from a single strike.

There is a practical limit to the length of a chime, too. There comes a point at which the vibrating tube will no longer radiate the intended frequency adequately, and other frequencies (generated by other vibrational modes) will become dominant. The result is usually unsatisfactory.

Many of the Mountain Song Wind Chime ranges seem to have five chimes as standard - why is that (why not more)?

Five chimes is not intended as a standard, but rather a minimum that will work for many of the tunings we suggest. It offers the lowest cost to the customer for a chime set in a particular range; if you wish to spend more money, we will be delighted to help you with that also!

Every option on our Listen page gives a recommended minimum and maximum number of chimes for each tuning. If you need help deciding, we can advise on this.

Tubular Bells

Do you make just wind chimes?

Placeholder: Mainly but other stuff too

This is an idiophone, custom-made for a live stage gig at WOMAD, Adelaide. Live performance of Tubular Bells

Tubular Bells