Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Chicken Cooker and the Spatula

Yet again another fine instrument brought to you by the fine folks at Chicken Cookers inc. They have been secretly subsidizing my art for years now, but it has only been recently that I have been able to speak open and freely about it.

Really that’s all I have to say about this piece, aside from look at the fact that this is the first time I used a spatula to mount the strings everything is kind of the same as all the other chicken cooking instruments out there.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The electro-acoustic dobro/MV 3

What can i say about this one. It was made from two busted up acoustic guitars. A chicken cooker (I just love those things) and a real nice pick up given to me by Alex.
For the most part I stay away from building conventional instruments, but this one was screaming at me to be built. Plug it in, or play it acoustically. It's up to you.
I have set the strings up the same as the MV1 and the MV2. Hence the name The Electro-acoustic Dobro/MV3. For those of you that have no idea what I am talking about I will now take this moment to explain. The MV1, MV2, and now the MV3 are all set up as slide instruments, with two of the six strings raised about an 8th of an inch above the other four. With the MV1 and MV2 I also added a whole wack of sympathetic strings. On the MV3 I did not.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Wok Star

Well I am sorry to say that this instrument didn’t quite work out as well as I wanted. I do love the way it looks and how it sounds, but the body is too weak to support the tension of the strings. I may have to devise some sort of post to run through the body. As you may have guessed from the title of this piece that this instruments body is made from a wok. At one point I was going to try a hammer the wok out into a cymbal, but that just seemed like way to much work. Moving right along, the face plate is a serving plate I found at a junk shop out west. I am really starting to like those things and you can find them everywhere. The bridge is the handle of an old alarm clock I found at a Salvation Army, which I also love.

So all that aside, even though the instrument is practically impossible to tune, the sounds I get out of it are pretty neat. With just an open strum and some pressure on the neck, you can get a really nice eerie drone out of it. Having the wok really helps it resonate. Maybe I should leave it as it is and rename it to the bend and drone.

Here are some comments that were left for this instrument.

missy_2_shoes said...

...I wonder if Ancient Chinease Secret could be persuaded to play this? Very cool, right down to the name.

Sympathetic Sitar Harp

Perhaps the most ambitious musical project to date, the instrument with no name is a seventeen stringed instrument of sympathetic proportions.
At this point I will randomly go on about a few of the construction mishaps of this wonderful instrument. I carved the head and neck out of a few pieces of pine I had laying around the space room. I know, pine is not the best wood to use, but when one is using junk and garbage as materials, one can not be that picky. I must say that before I started carving the head I thought to myself, how hard can it be to carve a great large swirl out of pine? Hell, I’m the king of swirls. It was only a few short hours later that I realized being king was a lot tougher then it looks. The swirl looks a bit misshapen and the overall effect give it that sci-fi fantasy look that only belonged to the Seventies. Maybe I should airbrush a topless woman ridding a unicorn somewhere on the instrument. What could I do? When the swirl calls I have to answer. That was just part of the deal.

Moving right along, I will now quickly go over some of the other materials I used in building this instrument. As you can see from the images I have once again used a salad bowl for the resonance chamber of the instrument. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of the old metallic salad bowl bit, for one they sound great and are unlike anything I could build. Secondly, they are dirt cheep and they can be found in just about every second hand store. Next on my list of materials often used would be the seventies style wood paneling. This material has certainly come up in the ranks over the past few years, now whenever I am on my way to a new job site I hope and pray that we will be tearing apart some bodies Grandparents basement, Though saying that now I realize that it is not in fact Grandparents that have these kinds of basemental decorative ideas, but a few of our own Parents as well, and that subject will be left at that. Now back to the paneling. This stuff is great, I like it for so many reasons, and now I’m going to list a few. First and most obvious is the price, you can’t beat free. Next, this is a very easy material to work with, easy to store, easy to cut, easy to attach to salad bowls, and lets not forget about its greatest selling feature, the thickness of the paneling itself. This stuff is very thin, which means very light, which is good. If you do find that it may be too thick you can always take up layers of the board. As you can see in some of the images this has already been done to certain sections. I am now officially board with material talk.
OK moving on to some of the things that pissed me off about this new piece. Let’s see, off the top of my head I would have to say that putting the harp in, creating the two bridges, and figuring out how to fret this beast were the three worst. They were so bad that I put this instrument off to the side for just over three months. I’ll start with the harp part of it, because that was my first and most damaging road block. I had just come off this three day tuning peg binge, using the pegs I had salvaged off an old harp from an uprights pianos sound board. Well little did I know before I started this binge was that the drill bit I was using for the peg holes was just a bit too big. What can I say, countless numbers of holes drilled meaninglessly into countless numbers of experimental instruments. Needless to say I was devastated when I discovered the errors of my ways. Since then I have been seeking counsel for my addiction and restrict my tuning peg drilling to one instrument at a time.

Now my next problem was all to do with the construction of the two bridges. The first bridge was for the sympathetic strings so I could mount it close to the body. The second bridge however had to be raised up about an inch and a half (I know, I’m Canadian, I should be using metric) if I were to do this I would somehow have to compensate for the tension and height then all I could do was hope and pray that the Gods of all instruments messed up would smile upon me. It was a grueling few days, but in the end I came out victorious. Though visually I and not one hundred percent sold, on a functional level I was more then happy. This is where many of my problems lie in experimental instrument sculpting. Do I settle for function or design? Moving right along to my final and perhaps most daunting task and that was the fret board. The frets are set up like an acoustic guitar which is easy enough, but how in the name of Zeus am I going to have them raised up in order for the sympathetic strings to successfully run underneath? All this time wasted thinking about how I could do it. The sleepless nights, the fights with my loved ones, the unexplained bruising I discovered on my legs one day. All of this was a direct result of not even knowing where to begin with this problem, while all the time it was laying right in front of me, quite literally it was right in front of me the whole time. In front of me and in my way most of the time. It was my fret stick, I know, I know. We all have one, but most of us are afraid to admit it. Well I’m not, in fact this fret stick saved my fragile eggshell mind. You see all I had to do was lay this fret stick on top of the neck of the instrument, after that everything was easy, bent up a bunch of aluminum rods and screw them right into the neck over top of the fret stick, all the frets in place and I was ready to go. The only problem I had now was getting that damn stick out from under them, but that’s a story for another day.

This could be my longest blog entry ever. If you have gotten to the bottom of this and have not fallen asleep do to boredom you are truly a crazy person, but that makes me love you all the more.

Here are some comments that were left for this instrument.

Bri said...

hey your site is neat. it's too bad i can't listen to a sound clip of this. you know you can do that free audio posting thing blogger offers with your cellphone at least.
thanks for sharing

Six Stringed Fretless Acoustic

Hand Drum Three String

El más largo del largo


Here are some comments that were left for this instrument.

Anonymous said...

Just brilliant and inspiring. Just started making cigar box guitars but this has me thinking about other ideas now. regards David Ward

Erhu 2

Good Times for a Sick Mind

Is it a prison? Is it an instrument? Nobody knows for sure. In order for this instrument to work at 100 percent capacity you need to trick a small Poecile atricapillus or Cyanocitta stelleri into entering the hole on the top of the instrument. I suggest a nice seed mixture. You can make it up yourself, or purchase it from a local shop owner. It is up to you to find the appropriate business in your city or town. I strongly suggest you avoid the Branta Canadensis or Gavia immer as these are both way to large to fit through the hole, and by all means stay away from the Corvus coraxthey scare the heck out of me.
Once you have secured your package you must quickly string the instrument up before they become wise to your plans. This can be tricky as most avionic creatures are evil in nature and have probably already figured out what it is that you are doing. Now that the instrument is strung up gently shake out your seed mixture unless you are looking for a shaker sound. All you have to do now is tune your instrument and start playing. The plucking and sweet sounds of the chirp chirp chirp will entertain you for hours on end.
Ok I have been contacted by a group of anonymous legal types that have strongly suggested
that I put in this description that doing any of the above would be cruel and unjust, and there is a good chance that I might end up doing time for said crimes. I have also been advised to inform all readers that no animals were hurt in the construction of this instrument, and I take no responsibility for any sick persons desire to construct this instrument to its full potential. If you do, you are sick, and need help. I wash my hands of all of this madness.
I almost forgot. The instrument is constructed from a wooden wine box I found in the garbage; unfortunately the wine had already been consumed. The pegs were made from chair legs, and the slide tuners were stripped out of an old equalizer from an eight track player, and the strings are just regular strings, only a lot shorter.

The Spy vs. Spy Sitar

So this really isn’t a Sitar at all, nor was it meant to be. This was one of those instruments that took a very long time to figure out what it wanted to be. I was kind of just flying by the seat of my pants on this one. Oh wait, that’s how I build all of these things.

The Sitar part of the name came from the nice droning buzz sound I get out of it. I think it has a lot to do with the bridge I used. It was a curved piece of ceramic tile from a kitchen I worked on last week.

The Spy vs. Spy part of the name came from Jen. Sometimes Jen is crazy, but this time she was crazy. That makes no sense, and that’s how I like it. Mind you ever since she said that all I can see is Spy vs. Spy. It reminds me of the first time somebody told me the Jimi Hendricks line was “excuse me, while I kiss this guy” The song has never been the same.

The instrument was constructed out of knotty pine (I do like Knotty Pine) from the family run hardware store down the street. The face of the body was from a demolished basement, and it is in fact real fake wood paneling from the Seventies. Finally the back of the instrument is another of those lovely salad bowls.

The fret board was set up as a “Classical long” From Stewart-MacDonald web site. He has a great fret calculator on there that I use for most of my fretted instruments


My Oblique Strategy for the Spy vs. Spy Sitar was Overtly resist change

Here are some comments that were left for this instrument.

Anonymous said...

yer comin' awful close to dissin' the Jen there, better watch it or she'll kick yer butt.

Shouldn't it be 'naughty pine'?

So this instrument is badly in need of a name. Anybody out there with any ideas, please, help me out here.

I made this out of scrap pieces of wood from the larger scrap pieces of wood that I get from job sites, the streets of Parkdale, and furniture my friends and family give me. I do like to use salvaged material. It’s my way of making me feel better about all my other sins, and trust me folks, there are many. The tuning pegs came of a coat rack that I obviously dismantled. I have been quoted as saying “I don’t believe in hanging coats” It’s true. The round things on the head of this instrument were wooden cupboard knobs. Is that not fascinating? Wow.

My Oblique Strategy for this instrument was Discard an axiom

So far only two entries have been submitted for the “it kind of looks Greek” instrument
1. “NonSpoon” by The Lone Guitarist
2. “Euclid's Beltbuckle” posted by Anonymous, but I think I know who it is. I’m looking in Warwick’s general direction
I’m still waiting for the one that jumps out and grabs me. I am leaning slightly towards Wicks choice right now.
Two more to add to the list
3. "Mjollner" by thefirstbardo
4. "Balabanjo" "Banjolaika" and " Fuckaranjolaika" these three entries were by Alex_n
5. Somebody going by the name of Felix the Cat has suggested the TriLyre. This one is growing on me.

Here are some of the comments that were left for the odd instrument.

The Lone Guitarist said...

I think you should call it the NonSpoon because it isnt a spoon. Theres no logic in there so dont try and look for any lol. keep up the inspirational work

Anonymous said...

How bout 'Euclid's Beltbuckle'
because Euclid was the father of geometry (and it is quite a geometric object), and beltbuckle because, well, because it isn't I guess.

ThefirstBardo said...

Something having to do with Mjollner, Thor's hammer. But that would be Norse, not Greek. So hpw about the Norse Hammer or better yet, The Nørdic Håmmer.

alex_n said...

Looks like a fore-shortened Balalaika and a fucked up banjo had a kid...with rivets!


Felix the Cat said...

How about TriLyre. A lyre is a Greek instrument related to the harp, but hell, who cares, if you dig the name.

Anonymous said...

I think it looks Russian. And it reminds me of a super-sleek jet fighter, but it's too long for a fighter. Oh, wait — I've got it:



The Ragga

My Oblique Strategy for the Ragga was Slow preparation..Fast execution

Alien Folk Dulcimer

My Oblique Strategy for the Alien folk Dulcimer is Turn it upside down