Thursday, June 01, 2006

Double Thumb Piano Zither

My Oblique Strategy for the Double Thumb Piano Zither is Abandon Normal Instruments


It had to be done. Jen came home one day with a book on tin can art and I was hooked.

My Oblique Strategy for the Tincanjoe was Forced with a choice do both (Given by Diter Rot)

the Door-o-Phone

I think it was Dave who came up with the name for this one, and it is Dave who has hidden this instrument away from me. This is one of the only photos that exist of the Door-o-Phone.

One day we shall be reunited, until then I will think of you fondly.

My Oblique Strategy for the Door-o-Phone was Simply a matter of work

Spare Parts Wall Mount

My Oblique Strategy for the Spare Parts Wall Mount was Trust in the you of now

Electro Little Fiddle

This is my first real attempt at trying to document the steps one would take when deciding to build a functional and aesthetically pleasing experimental instrument. I did put a lot of work into the sound design of this particular instrument. There is a sound post placed just under the bridge, and a piece of wood glues on to the underside running length wise that is suppose to pick up more of the bass of the instrument. It also has a contact mic build directly into the belly of this strange beast. The neck was found somewhere close to Niagara Falls. I was in a rental with my brother in-law and the rest just gets a little blurry for that weekend. I also use the same neck piece to repair Alex’s Left Handed Bass, but that’s a story for another day. The rest of the body I built myself. As you can tell it looks something like a triangle. That’s because things with too many curve make me feel uncomfortable. The output is on the left hand side of the instrument, a simple quarter inch output. I do wish I had of put a volume control somewhere.

So plug it in and rock on, or something along those lines. Maybe you’re into Jazz?

Unfortunately I never really got the chance to play, or rather in my case, make horrible screeching cat death like noises. This instrument along with almost all my others is currently hanging in a show I have in Parkdale. The place is called Mitzi’s Sister. It’s a great place to see live bands seven days a week for free. They also have a great permanent collection of art hanging in the music area done by yours truly. Just scroll down this increasing large page to find out which instruments are there.

Sitar Fan

Buzz Zither

Round Bowed String Thing

MV4 the Chicken Cooker in Green

I had to do it; the Chicken Cooker in Green was at best a mediocre wall piece, and now it is something much more special to me. Strung up the same as the MV1, the MV2, and the Electro-acoustic Dobro/MV3, now I have something to play when I get together for my weekly jam. Something wonderful has happened to the Single String and it has nothing to do with me.

The idea came to me as I was traveling around the Niagara Region this past long weekend. Whenever we go away, second hand and junkshops are always on the agenda. I can usually find one of my beloved grill plates on these excursions. This long weekend I wasn’t so lucky in that department. I had also just taken my

show down from Mitzi’s Café in Parkdale where the original Chicken Cooker in Green was hanging. When I came home I had decided that it was time to take some of the less successful of instruments and start rebuilding them, making them stronger and faster. Oh wait, that’s something else.

The Chicken Cooker in Green, or as we say in the biz the CCG was the first on the list, mainly because it was sitting on the floor in the downstairs hallway being tripped over every time you walked by, even if you could see it. I did use some of my new acquisitions in the rebuilding

process. There were a few neat things that I found. Hopefully I will post their outcomes in the next few weeks. Just click on the instruments I spoke of above if you would like to read more about there good and bad times. So now the CCG it has been rebuilt into the MV4CCG, and I’m much happier now. Oh wait, that was also something else.

Here is a sketch I did prior to the re-construction of the Chicken Cooker in Green. As you can see, it didn't turn out exactly as I had planned, but that's the way it goes some time.
I have posted other sketches throughout the blog.

Metal Gopichand

I found this instrument in a pile of trash in my space room. It was something I built many years ago and forgotten about. When I found it had about ten useless strings on it. Five different speakers place at various points on the instrument that I wired all together in hopes of finding some interesting kind of pick up, that didn’t work at all. For the most part I would stay away from using a speaker as a microphone, but experiment, on the rare occasion it does work like with the Sunflower of Death. I also used a contact mic with the Sunflower. There were also three tin cans with racket balls mounted in them to be used with sticks. These sucked, they really, really sucked. So after I found this mess I was ready to just throw it out. It wasn’t until I was half way through striping it for screws, nuts and bolts that I realized the Metal Gopichand could be built back into its original idea. I often find that if I work on something too long I end up over doing the instrument, or any form of art for that matter. Sometimes simplicity is best. I know it is a simple instrument, but it’s easy to build, and you can get some neat sounds out of it. All you have to do is pluck the string and apply pressure to the two arms, squeezing them in and out as you pluck.

The Hairdryer Harp

All you need is an old body from a salon hairdryer, a chicken cooking grill plate, and some parts from an old chair. OK maybe some tuning pegs and guitar strings thrown in for sound.
This piece came together quite by accident. I was working on some percussive instrument and was looking for some small pieces of metal to add for visual stimulation. Most of my stimulating metal lived in what is now the body of the Hairdryer Harp. As I was rooting through my collection of metal bits it came to me like a thief in the night. Well not really, but it sounds better that way. I always have a few extra cooking plates lying around for just such
a moment. So when the idea of building a harp from a hairdryer came into my head I knew just where to go. I dumped out the shinny metal bits on the floor, where they still lay. The chair parts were lost a few months ago under our too small to be comfortable couch. The grill plates are scattered throughout our apartment, and the machine heads and strings are at Steve’s Music downtown. It’s that easy. I think I might put the fan blower back in just in case I need to do something with my hair.

The Bowed Web of Tacky Instruments

This is by far the ugliest of all the instruments I have built, and for some reason that makes me love it all the more. It was suppose to be a simple hand drum in the beginning. Sometimes these things have a life of there own, and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.

So I guess it's kind of like a cross between a cello and a banjo made from a snare drum. It'’s not as scary as it sounds. There are only two frets on the instrument, but they sit about three inches off the neck. There are three bowed strings, two drone strings, and one sympathetic string. I have no idea why that their, aside from the fact that I had one tuning peg without a string. That'’s good enough of a reason for me. The swirls are from one my metal dresses that was mostly destroyed in a fire. I'm glad this little bit found itself a new home.

Even if that home is really freaking ugly.

24 Stringed Grandfather

This instrument was built mostly from materials that I recovered from a job site that I was working on. The head stock which is to the right was originally part of a broken mirror frame that I found in the basement of Mitzi's Cafe. I cut it down to fit the width of the instrument, but made no attempt at changing the color of stain. Part of the joy in building these instruments out of garbage and what not, is the challenge of finding different things that work well together; with as few alterations as possible. Other parts of the mirror also went into building the Harp Bass, and Tony's Bass. The idea for building the 24 Stringed Grandfather was loosely based on the hammer dulcimer. What I did with the strings is quite different though. The first eight strings are set up the same as any of the MV series.The next six strings which are all raised up slightly higher are set as individually tuned drone strings, or you could also use a slide. The last eight strings are set up to be played like the Larcksichord, which you can read more about further down the page. In an attempt to waste little of the salvaged materials I use the base was made from the remaining parts of the mirror frame. One of the main problems with this instrument is it's ability to be tuned. The first obvious problem is that half of the tuning pegs actually sit just below the strings, so it can be very difficult, almost to the point of annoying to get your stubby fingers in there. The second problem which is a bit more of a pain is the fact that the wood where the strings are fed into near the head stock sits about an inch and a half lower than the tuning pegs. This causes a lot of tension, and prevents easy movement between the two, therefore making it difficult to get proper tension on the strings. I will be working on this problem soon. How though, I'm not that sure.

The 24 Stringed Grandfather was first shown at Mitzi's Sister in Parkdale. It hung for the month of March 2005.
The show was called Delinquente Strumenti.

Wooden Three Stringed Erhu

Six Stringed Ban-hu

Metal Tambura

Metal Tambura, Metal Tambura. Over, and over again.

This instrument sounds great with a slide and a contact mic. Made from a serving plate I found at the Goodwill, an aluminum tube I cut in half, and various scavenged guitar parts, and my favorite, the salad bowl. Yes sir I love those salad bowls. Really, I love salad bowls for some bizarre reason. I based this instrument completely on the Tambura. The length of the neck was measured out from some schematics I found on the internet, along with the placement, and amount of strings. The bridge placement was measured back from the nut. I don't really know why there are two nuts up there, or if I really did base that on a real Tambura. I could be making all this stuff up. I'm not really all that sure that anybody will even read these things.

The New Larksichord

I rebuilt this from the old Larksichord when I realized that my wood working skills had most definitely needed some work. I am much happier with this new version.
The wood bridge is place there so you can play either side of the strings, plucking one side while adding pressure to the other side. The bottom part of the Larksichord is equipped with two guitar pick ups. The top half of the instrument is designed to be played acoustically.
Above to the left you can see a close up of the face plate with its two guitar pick ups off set from one another
Below on the far left is a close up of the hand made head stock.
Beside that are the three sound holes on the acoustic side of the Larcksichord.

The Larksichord is made up
1 very large old Lark hairdryer
Some kind of large cooking plate
A crumb tray from a stove top element
12 tuning pegs
12 guitar strings
1 completely useless knob which I have no idea why I put it in there.