THE mixture of old codgers and modern technology has helped create a musical instrument with a difference for young people.

When Grafton Men's Shed received a commission from John Gorrie at Bright Sparks pre-school to build a musical instrument that could stand being left outside, it posed a problem for them.

A spokesman for the group said they came up with a rough design of PVC pipes arranged in a rack which children could hit with a thong.

"You can hit it with a thong and it makes a "bong" sound," he said. "That's how we came up with the name "thong-bong".

The breakthrough came when members of the group, Arthur Cooper and Don McLeod, found iPhone apps that allowed them to start tuning the pipes.

"That's when we thought we could be really serious with it," the spokesman said.

The thong-bong now has one side devoted to a percussive mode, where children can bang away and make as much noise as they like. On the other side they can be encouraged to follow the colour-coded song chart and come up with some favourites such as Old McDonald had a Farm.

Once the tuning has been completed the Men's Shed plans to build a small stage around the instrument to raise the players up to a good height to play the instrument.

"Most kids like to be up on stage when they're playing," the spokesman said.