PVC Bamboom Stick

PVC Bamboom Stick

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The handle on Bennet’s Bamboom Stick failed during its first use. Bamboo is strong for its thickness, but, in addition to the handle, the frame cracked in four places, while I was cutting and shaping the instrument. The cracks were easy to fix with glue and clamps, but I’m not sure how it will hold up over time. Surely the handle will hold up with the addition of a dowel, but there was still reason for concern.

This led me to look for a more resilient material. PVC is strong and flexible and easy to manipulate. 1-1/4″ PVC pipe is an excellent size for the body and 1″ is perfect for the handle, as 1″ PVC fits close inside of 1-1/4″ pipe.

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For the handle slot, I made horizontal cuts on the body with a hacksaw and then used a 1-1/8 spade bit to remove most of the material on the front and back of the frame. The rest of the handle slot was shaped with files. I cut the handle from a 1″ piece of PVC; it fit snug within the opening. I also slipped a piece of 1″ wooden dowel into to 1″ PVC to reinforce the handle.

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I cut the pickup hole in the same fashion that I shaped the handle slot. Much like the bamboo version, it allows limited range, but a bit more room to install the piece of angle that would hold the simple tuner and the 1/4″ jack. The wall of the 1-1/4″ PVC was too thick for the nut on the 1/4″ jack to fit, so I filed down the outer side of the frame, around the hole, until installation was possible. Although it appears ugly, I have started using hot glue to strengthen my solder joints; it keeps me from having unexpected delays.

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To create more clearance at the front of the handle, I cut down a 1″ cap and glued it to the front portion of the handle. I filed a small triangular notch into the top of the handle and used a screw to tighten the string down. A binding screw worked well to allow the handle to pivot. I added an eye bolt, bent to an angle, to act as a nut and to set a consistent action. For this PVC version, I decided to use heavier eye bolts than I used on the bamboo version to further strengthen the instrument.

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Because of the limited space, I had to set the piece of angle, then install and solder the jack to the pickup, then install the bent eye bolt, and finally, set the pickup in place. In this PVC version, the JSA Nd144 pickup sat loose in the hole, so I cut and shaped a small piece of 1″ PVC to fill the space. I filed the inner sides of the 1″ piece of PVC until the pickup fit snug. After that, I added the usual simple machine to set the open note/octave.

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I added two 1-1/4 jacks to the top and bottom of the frame and a 1″ cap to the back of the handle. For the bottom, I installed a screw-on rubber bumper so that it doesn’t slide on the floor. Additionally, I left the remaining string intact, since there is no easy way to keep the instrument grounded. The jack is grounded to the bridge eye bolt, so one must simply hold the remaining string against the handle, while playing, to keep a constant ground.

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Just like the bamboo version, there is only one E string, but the instrument has a lot of range. I added a simple tuner so that the player can set the open note/octave. The player controls the pitch by tightening and slacking the string with the handle and there is definitely a learning curve, as the player has to listen for the note correct pitch—I place the difficulty level somewhere between playing slide guitar and trombone.

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It seems important to note that when I tested this instrument the string broke rather than the frame or handle.

Check out this quick and thoroughly awful video:

Thanks,
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Bennet’s Bamboom Stick

Bennet’s Bamboom Stick

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“Bamboom” was how Bennet used to pronounce “bamboo” when he was younger. In Army of Darkness, Ash called his shotgun a “boom stick”—no real correlation, just a fun fact.

This instrument was commissioned by Bennet. I can’t remember what it is really called, but Bennet fell in love after playing one at the St. Louis Cigar Box Guitar Club. Both the frame and handle are constructed entirely of bamboo. The one that he saw included a cigar box and piezo pickup, but I wanted to streamline the design, so I cut a hole and installed a JSC Nd144 electromagnetic pickup. 

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Bamboo is incredibly strong for its thickness and weight, but it is easy to manipulate once a hole is created. I made horizontal cuts with a hacksaw and then drilled a couple of holes, where I wanted to cut vertically, and sawed a half inch strip out of the center. After that, a sharp chisel cut the rest relatively easy, with a surprising amount of control over how much material was removed.

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I cut a handle from a smaller diameter piece of bamboo; it fit snug within the opening. Build note: if you are thinking about constructing a similar instrument and use a bamboo handle, consider reinforcing the handle with a piece of dowel rod. The handle on this instrument cracked during its first use. I’ll just remove the twine and then glue and clamp the handle on Bennet’s, but it’s better to reinforce the handle from the start.

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From the pickup hole, I had limited range to place the piece of angle that would hold the tuner and the 1/4″ jack, but that was the only access that I had without creating more holes. It was tight, but it all fit without interfering with the connections. IMG_1642IMG_1643IMG_1645

I filed a large rectangular notch into the top of the handle and use a 1/4″ bolt and rod coupling to tighten the string down. A couple of brass pieces and binding screw worked well to allow the handle to pivot. I also rounded out the back of the frame to allow the handle more range and added an eye bolt, bent to an angle, to act as a bridge and set a consistent action.

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Because of the limited space, I had to set the piece of angle, then install and solder the jack to the pickup, then install the bent eye bolt, and finally seat the pickup. I was extremely happy that it all worked the first time. After that, I added the usual simple machine to set the open note/octave.

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For the bottom, I added a screw-on rubber bumper so that it doesn’t slide on the floor. I fit perfectly, with a little persuasion.

There is only one E string, but the instrument has a lot of range. I added the simple tuner so that the player can set the open note/octave. The player controls the pitch by tightening and slacking the string with the handle and there is definitely a learning curve, as the player has to listen for the note correct pitch—I place the difficulty level somewhere between playing slide guitar and trombone. Good times.

Thanks,

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Fireplace Pan Electric Guitar

Fireplace Pan Electric Guitar

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I found this old brass fireplace pan at my local antique mall and immediately saw potential. The wrought iron handle seemed like it would accommodate two strings and it was long enough to provide a reasonable scale.

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I based the scale and fret spacing off of my son’s 19″ Zakk Wylde Peewee Les Paul, which was about as far as I could push the space provided. I used the rim of the pan as a bridge and, even then, I only had about an 1-1/2 of usable surface behind the nut.

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As usual, space was tight; therefore, traditional tuners were not a viable option. Using the rim as a bridge, I installed the tuners down the side of the pan and my simple, linear machines were perfect for the space available. These tuners are cheap, efficient, and adaptable—many of my past projects would have been impossible without the flexibility offered by these machines. I placed the 1/4′ jack in the upper right instead of the lower right, because the protruding cord would be the least obstructive and it could double as a makeshift strap button.

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The head isn’t spectacular, but I do like the functional aspect of the built-in wrought iron hanger. The nut is fabricated of a brass bolt cut to length and filed down to half its diameter. I left the head on, because the bass string pulls with greater force than its counterpart. The knurled nuts are my personal favorite; if I could, I would find a place for them in every project—they just look so cool and sometimes offer excellent function.

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The pickup is my own Junk Shop Audio Nd144 style, great for 1-string to 3-string applications. It has a compact design and can be installed in a number of creative ways—in some cases it can even be hidden completely for a smooth, uncut top appearance, to better preserve original cigar box artwork.

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The strap nut is created from a bolt, a beveled washer, a 1/4″ aluminum sleeve, and a couple of nuts. However, its more important function is to attach the metal strip that holds the pickup in place. The strap is made completely from red and black duct tape; I feel it complements the instrument well.

Thanks,

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Quick and Dirty Acoustic Pickup

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I needed a pickup that I could easily install and remove from guitar to guitar—this is what I created with few spare parts I had laying around.

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I grabbed a Lego crate and lid got the housing and a RCA jack for the connection. The active agent is a piezo disk that I broke out of a buzzer housing.

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Drilled a hole in the bottom of the crate and installed the RCA jack.

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Then, I drilled a hole in the  lid and inserted the piezo wires.

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Next, I soldered the wires to the hot and ground terminals on the RCA jack and closed the crate.

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To allow for easy installation and removal, I added a 3/8″ removable Glue Dot to  the back of the piezo disk and one side of the Lego Crate. Done.

It needs some more sound shaping, but it has potential and is decent in a pinch.

Check out my video:

Thanks,

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Jumper Wire Test Box

Hi,

I originally created this test box in preparation for building a portable guitar rig. I had found an old RCA repairman’s vacuum tube box that, if modified, could hold a small tube amplifier, a 10″ Celestion, and a few effects pedals. I’ll likely present this “road rig” as an ongoing, realtime project later this year, but for now I will show you this excellent tool for figuring out complex wiring schemes. 
The box is simple in form; the only criteria I used in choosing the donor box was that it be flat as possible and have a length and width just larger than 8.5×11, so that a sheet of computer paper can be used for a template. To create the template, I used a drawing program from an old software cluster called Apple Works, but you can likely use just about anything.
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I tried to make my box as versatile as possible and therefore included two rows of six 1/4″ jacks, one row of switches and one row of RCA jacks (which require the same sized hole and are interchangeable), one row on the bottom for speaker jacks and speciality items, and one row above with pilot holes drilled for expansion. You need not fill all of the holes with components, as it can get quite expensive; it’s better to get a few items to play around with initially, leaving space for project specific components.   
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The pictures are self-explanatory, but the easiest way that I have found to make a box like this is to print the template, tape it to the box as straight as possible using painter’s tape, drill pilot holes with a small bit, remove the template, and then drill the various sized holes for each component. If you like my template (shown below), follow the link to my Google Drive account and download the “jumper wire test box template” file: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bz_BJp6_LjKySVVjQTRvVXBZVzA/view?usp=sharing
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The strips of painter’s tape between the components allow you to label each component when wiring for easy removal and reuse; and the jumper wires make experimental wiring a breeze. Simply wire, plug up, test, and rewire if necessary. When you are happy, set up your permanent project box and wire it based upon your tested design.
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Check out our other fun projects in the menu above and don’t hesitate to comment or contact us if you have questions, concerns, or need advise regarding a project.
Thanks,
uW5Z0b

Homemade Promotional Guitar Pick Project

Homemade Guitar Picks

Hi,

Over the past few months, I’ve been
trying to get the word out about this site and recently entertained the idea of making homemade, promotional guitar picks to distribute. I believe I have stumbled upon a reasonable process and wanted to share it with you.

The process entails printing 56 pick-sized designs on a sheet of transparency film and then laminating it. After that, four laminating pouches are cut into eight separate sheets and are then laminated to the back of the primary sheet one at a time. Finally, the picks are harvested with a Pick Punch and finished with 600 grit sandpaper.

This project takes a little effort, but the final product is a very excellent, medium-gauge pick. Detailed instructions are in the works—in the meantime, have a look at the attached images.

Thanks,

uW5Z0b

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