A wind chime is a beautiful addition to any garden, creating a soothing and sometimes even meditative atmosphere.
In parts of Asia, wind chimes are thought of as good luck and, depending on where they are hung, are believed to open up career opportunities and bring positivity to your home.
They add to the ambience of outdoor spaces, with their pleasing aesthetic and gentle, relaxing tones.
Finding a wind chime that you like can be tricky, especially if you can’t hear them before you buy. But there are some things that it’s worth knowing, that can help you find the best wind chime for you:
The Sound of Your Wind Chime
One of the most difficult things about buying a wind chime is not being able to hear what sound it makes before you purchase it – particularly when shopping online.
So, how can you be sure that you’re going to get something you like, when you’re looking at a picture of a wind chime on a website?
Firstly, the size of the wind chime will offer some clues on the depth of sound that it will have. Longer, thicker wind chimes create lower notes, whilst smaller ones will ‘jangle’ more like a bell.
If they are wooden or bamboo wind chimes, the noise will be more subtle and muted. Wooden wind chimes are more mellow, whereas metal wind chimes make more of a definitive sound.
Specifically Tuned Wind Chimes
Many of the best wind chimes have been musically tuned so that the notes complement each other. This only applies to metal chimes, not wooden or bamboo wind chimes.
If you’re nervous about your wind chime not sounding good, go for musically tuned wind chimes. This way you’ll know for sure that all the notes will sound harmonious with each other.
For example, wind chimes like the Nature’s Melody Wind Chimes have been tuned to a pleasing pentatonic scale.
When wind chimes are tuned to a pentatonic scale, all of the notes sound great together no matter how many are ringing at the same time. There will be no jarring clashing because it’s not possible for them to produce a discordant combination of notes.
Another technique, used to design the Woodstock Chimes Large Bells of Paradise, is called “just intonation”.
Wind chimes that use “just intonation” have been tuned to whole-number ratios. Basically, again, this means each of the chimes sounds harmonious when played alone or with other chimes and each note compliments the rest.
If there is a particular pentatonic scale that you like, you can likely find some wind chimes made in that scale. Equally, if you find a wind chime online and notice that it is tuned to a specific pentatonic scale (for example, the pentatonic scale of ‘C’), you can even search the scale online to have a listen and see if you like it.
Hopefully the above information has given you more confidence in the process of buying wind chimes online. The overall take away is that you can still have some understanding of how the chimes will sound even if you can’t listen to them.
Choosing a Good Design
Wind chimes are available in a huge variety of designs, ranging from traditional, to contemporary, to some pretty out-there styles!
If you have a certain ‘theme’ in your garden, you’re sure to find a wind chime which suits the aesthetic you’re going for. If not, you can really let your imagination run wild and choose anything you like.
Of course, you still need to consider the sound – you might find a wind chime that looks good aesthetically, but if it’s not tuned in a way that you like, you could start to hate its discordant melody.
Wind chimes come in a range of sizes, from miniature to giant, so you can choose if you want to make a statement in your garden, or have something more subtle on the side lines.
Depending on the style of your garden, you might decide that a wooden or metal wind chime looks better. There are really no rules, it just depends on the aesthetic you’re going for.
Some wind chimes look very contemporary, so if you’re worried about ending up with something too ‘kitsch’, there are a lot of modern options to choose from.
Equally, you can go for something more quirky and ornamental, like the Bits and Pieces Tea Cup Wind Chimes – these wind chimes are slightly more focused on bringing a certain aesthetic to the space rather than a specific sound.
Number and Size of Wind Chimes
The number, as well as the size, of the wind chimes can affect the overall sound.
Longer wind chimes tend to produce a lower tone, whilst shorter ones produce high-pitched sounds. Bigger wind chimes are generally heavier and will need more wind to set them ringing, whilst lightweight wind chimes make a noise in even the gentlest breeze.
You might want to be able to hear the wind chimes almost all the time, or only occasionally. So choosing a lighter or heavier design respectively will help you achieve this.
When it comes to the number of chimes, most wind chimes have either 6, 7, 8, or 9. More chimes will naturally give more note variety, but can sound a little more hectic. A few well-tuned wind chimes will create a simpler sound. If you want to try to achieve more time between lots of notes sounding, the best wind chimes for this will have fewer tubes.
Whatever size wind chime you go for, it’s recommended to bring it in during particularly windy or stormy weather. Larger wind chimes may cause damage to branches in bad weather, and all wind chimes could get tangled and damages if they fall.
Choosing the Right Material
If you’re planning on hanging wind chimes in your garden, they should be designed to be left outside. Therefore, quality, durable materials are key.
Sealed wood, aluminium and bamboo are all popular options for outdoor wind chimes. These make the best wind chimes because they last well and don’t get damaged easily. The suspension cords also need to be sturdy even in relatively strong winds. Of course, you can always bring the wind chimes in if the weather conditions are getting a little too lively.
Wind chimes made of more delicate materials such as glass or ceramic are best placed in covered areas like porches or covered patios. These chimes tend to be quite ornamental and may break if they are knocked around too much.
When it comes to the quality and timbre of the sound, the wind chime’s construction material will also affect this.
Metal chimes can be precision tuned, which is less common with wooden wind chimes. As mentioned above, wind chimes tuned to a specific scale are extremely melodic and harmonious.
If you prefer a more natural, resonant sound, opt for bamboo wind chimes. These wind chimes create quite ‘earthy’ sounds, and are less finely tuned than metal ones, which can be nice for creating gentle background ambiance.
Wind chimes made from glass or ceramic are lovely to look at, but don’t produce as melodic a sound as metal or bamboo chimes.
Wind Chime Maintenance
The maintenance of your wind chimes will depend on the material it is made from.
In general, ensure your wind chimes are not exposed to severe weather, such as storms and gales as these may cause damage.
Also, position your wind chime where it is not subjected to intense sunlight for long periods. Sunlight can cause fading and drying out of components such as wooden rings and windcatchers.
Most wind chimes can be simply cleaned with water and a mild detergent. This will get them looking like new as well as remove any mould or dirt. A gentle detergent is all that is required to maintain aluminium parts and will also keep glass and ceramics sparkling.
You can protect wooden parts by regularly applying a thin layer of Danish oil or a protective varnish. This will seal the wood against moisture as well as preventing it from drying out in hot, sunny weather.
It’s also recommended to bring your wind chimes indoors during winter. Or at least move them to a very sheltered area such as a porch. If bad weather causes the chime to move about too much, a lot of strain will be put on the cords and make them susceptible to breakage.
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