I'm looking to record some samples of both singing/musical saw SFX, as well as that wiggle effect you hear in cartoons (something like this: http://www.pond5.com/sound-effects/1/cartoon-saw-wiggle.html).

Is there a particular saw/kind of saw anyone can recommend? After a tiny bit of digging, I found these: https://www.musicalsaw.com/catalog/order1.php. Is something like this needed to produce a good sound, or are there less expensive options that might work just as well?

Any other insight into how to best produce these effects is also greatly appreciated!

4 Answers 4


@tgormly, welcome to SSD.

I don't know if I'm the only one thinking this, but that 'musical saw' you posted is basically…just a saw. That you can buy at a hardware store. I can't imagine there's anything too special or unique about it. The bow and rosin are more than likely the same as what you can get at a music store or on Craigslist. The entire 'musical saw' kit seems to be nothing more than a bunch of everyday items bundled up in a cheap case and overpriced for your consumption.

The sound artists and foley folks that originally used saws (and lots of other run of the mill items) in the early Warner Bros cartoons didn't have specialty items, they just used what was available and on-hand. It was HOW they used them that was magical. And that's what you'll need to do -- LEARN how to use them.

So, my advice is for you to do some researching, some reading and some listening to the early works. Listen to Bugs Bunny and Hanna Barbera soundtracks. Try to figure out what they were using and how they did it. And then WRITE US BACK so we can all get the knowledge bomb dropped on us.

Best of luck!


A friend of mine who plays saw uses both specially-made musical saws and saws off the shelf from hardware stores. She's told me that some off-the-shelf saws are very good for bowing, some are not, and she has to tap them, bend them, play with them a bit to find the ones that sing to her the right way.

All that said: as with many things we record, it might be in your interest to find someone who plays the saw and arrange for them to perform the sounds you want to create, and you just worry about capturing them. And, having recorded my friend a few times, I can tell you that's its own challenge.


I recorded David Weiss, this guy once. He's really talented, and coaxes amazing sounds out of his axe, I mean saw (har har).

From what I can tell, the key is finding a thin saw that bends easily so you can manipulate the pitch. Then use a violin bow with a ton of rosin. But getting nice intervals, a good vibrato, and a steady pitch is probably much harder than David makes it look in the video. Good luck.

Here's David's album with the LA Philharmonic:


  • I just saw this for the first time after reading your link and I was almost sickened with grief. I will never be as good at anything as that man is at............. a saw.
    – Dave
    Apr 26, 2013 at 21:45

For that kind of flexitone twang sound I like to use japanese saws

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