Creating Cartoon Boing Sound Effect.jpg

How To Make A Cartoon 'Boing'

If you grew up watching the classic Saturday morning cartoons on TV like Bugs Bunny and The Roadrunner… you know exactly what sound an anvil makes when it drops from a cliff onto a coyote’s head.  You know what it sounds like when Daffy steps on a rake and it pops up and smacks him in the face.  And the cartoon ‘Boing’ is one of those classic sound effects forever associated with those animated mishaps.

And so begins another story of why I love my job.  Every once in a while I get to relive my childhood and disguise it as sound design.  This was one of those times. A call came in asking if I had some sounds that would work in an exaggerated bouncy-house at a kids’ party for a commercial.  The classic ‘Boing” sound from those old cartoons immediately came to mind.  It was also the perfect excuse to experiment.  I did a little research on what it took to create those classic boings back in the day.  One method was hitting an altered piece of bamboo with the palm of your hand and letting it vibrate.  Let the experiment begin. I sketched out a plan (see picture below)

Sketch of bamboo boing stick

With the sketch in hand, it was off to the workshop to see if I could find a hunk of bamboo (Yes, I found one).  Using the table saw, I shortened the bamboo shoot to about 2 feet.  Then with a router I cut a slit into the piece of bamboo about three-quarters of its length.  I had the rough beginnings of a “boing stick.”

 Rough cartoon boing stick

Then the sharp edges were sanded down and the testing began.  At first the edges toward the ends made contact with each other when the stick was hit.  That made a nasty unwanted noise.  The solution was to widen the gap toward the ends slightly.  Then as aging bamboo does, it started to crack at the base after several hits on my palm.  Adding a small hose clamp saved the stick from cracking fully in half.

 Finished Cartoon Sound Effect stick

The last step was to step in front of the mic and record a whole bunch of boings with hard and soft strikes at various microphone positions.  The results brought back memories of Saturday mornings in front of the TV, added another strange story to my adventures in sound design, and created some new 96k/24 bit files of some classic style sound effects. 

Recording a cartoon boing sound effect

If you enjoyed reading this post and would like to download the 'boings' for yourself, visit our Soundcloud page and grab your FREE download.

Posted by Rick Allen



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