Museum of Making Music
in Carlsbad

museum of making music

museum of making music
If you have any interest in music, then you should definitely check out the Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad.

This museum documents the changes in musical instruments and music styles from the 1890 to 1990. That is to say, you'll find everything from vintage, foot-powered organs to modern electric musical systems. Shown: An old style phonograph.

As you enter the Museum of Making Music, turn right and pay in the gift shop. Start your tour at 1890-1900, a time when women were considered more "marriageable" if they could play the piano. Recall that in 1890, there were no iPods, CDs, or radio; so if you want music, you have to make it yourself!

Shown: Harp-guitars from 1911 and Mandolin from 1908

Be sure to read the rotating plaques located throughout the Museum of Making Music. They contain a wealth of information.

With new developments in each era, the manufacturing, marketing, and distribution of musical instruments changes with the times.

Learn about the Big Band era through the rock and roll years until you reach the mid 1980's when digital music was introduced.

museum of making music

museum of making music

At every time period, there are interactive buttons which you can press to hear music from that era: jazz, blues, pop, rock & roll, new wave, and more. Music that span a century!

The photos on display will help put things in perspective: so that's what they were wearing and that's what they were hearing too!

There are many unusual instruments: some did not survive the test of time while other may yet surprise us and revolutionize the music industry.

Near the end of the tour, there is an Interactive Area where you can make your own music using hands-on instruments. Some of these are traditional while others are unique and not yet mainstream. Most instruments are fitted with head phones so you can drum & strum to your hearts content and you won't even disturb your neighbors.

The Museum of Making Music is organized as a loop: start at the gift shop and end at the gift shop. Expect to spend at least one hour at the museum and more if you read every informational plaque. As well, a person with some musical know-how can easily spend an hour experimenting with the instrument in the Interactive Area.

top: BeamZ, use your hands to block one of the six laser beam, this will cause multiple streams of music to be played along a background rhythm. Absolutely anyone can make great sound!

middle: Harpsicle Harp: weighing only 4 pounds, this small scale harp is well suited for beginners and experts alike. Strings are color coded with C in red and F in blue. The instrument plays in keys of C and Am, but can be tuned to other keys. Strum or pluck, it sounds divine.

bottom: Roland V-Drums TD-20: fitted with headphones, this quiet drum set gives you thousands of drum sounds, a dynamic range, and excellent expressiveness. Don't be shy, give it a try!

museum of making music

Museum Gift Shop

Upon exit, you will find yourself at the Museum Store. Take a moment to browse; you'll find a variety of music-themed products: ties & clothes, mugs & chinaware, toys & books, CDs and more.

Tip of the day

The museum is best when it is not busy. As you might imagine, it gets pretty noisy if there is a crowd of people. If everyone presses an interactive button, then the music will quickly become noise.

Unfortunately, it is difficult to predict when patrons will visit the museum. A sale at the Carlsbad Premium Outlets, a show at the Flower Fields, or an event at Legoland may draw in more visitors than normal. The Museum of Making Music also hosts group-tours with school-aged children (Most school tours are at 10 am). You don't want to be caught behind a gaggle of kids, so call and ask when is the best time to visit.

museum of making music

Location, Hours of Operation, Admission

Museum of Making Music
A Division of the NAMM Foundation
5790 Armada Drive
Carlsbad, CA 92008
(877) 551-9976

  $7 - General Admission
  $5 - Seniors (age 60 and up)
  $5 - Students (age 6 to 18)
  $5 - Active military (with ID)
  FREE - Children 5 and under
  FREE - Museum members

Open Tuesday through Sunday from 10am to 5pm.
Closed on Mondays and major holidays.

If you love the museum and would like to come back again, considering getting annual membership: $25 (individual), $50 (family), $100, $250, $500, or $1000. Includes benefits such as unlimited admission, free passes, discount at gift shop, and free subscription to InTone publication.

When driving along Armada, the location of the museum is not obvious because the building is somewhat corporate in appearance. The front door is not visible from the street: look for a sign labeled "Museum of Making Music". Drive into the parking lot, parking is free and plentiful.

Entrance into the museum is at the backside, visible from the parking lot.

museum of making music
Shown: Antique "Haydn" Pump Organ, 1800's

museum of making music
Shown: the beginning of the electric sound.