Friday, 28 May 2010

Tim Hunkin - Engineer - Artist

Does any one remember the TV sries The Secret Life Of Machines back in the late 80’s? Hosted by Tim Hunkin and Rex Garrod it explained the inner workings of domestic and later office equipment through experimentation, stunts and wacky cartoons! I considered this compulsory viewing!
A few day ago I looked on youtube to see if any clips were on it and indeed there where but then I discovered the website where you can (legally) download all 18 shows to keep!
If this wasn’t enough I found Tim’s own website and realised he had been rather busy since that series was made to put it mildly!
What a mine of inspiration not to mention a great way to earn a living! If only I could do a similar thing but with a musical slant to it? !
Sorry the links don't link here ,I've never managed to get them to work.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Dulcimer back and sides

The laminate on the inside of the side panels was damaged from where I had taken the cabinet apart but that was probably because it wasn’t very well stuck down in the first place and half an hour with a chisel had it all removed, what I have left is about 3 mm thick and can’t be described as ply because the grain of two layers of wood go in the same direction so it’s just a layer of birch and something prettier on top. These pieces will become the top and sides of my dulcimer the bottom is what used to be the cabinet’s top so is rather thick 5 ply. Rather than conventionally gluing the sides on top of it I’m going to stick them round the edge this will have the advantage of acting as a former, hide the fact it is ply and save me fitting kurfeling as I have a thick edge to glue to! I have already cut a maple wedge block for the tail and have off cut of rose wood to cap the end. Now I’m thinking about the headstock, I don’t have the wood for the finger board though and I guess it ought to match rosewood or Mahogany would look nice and I think I have some Mahogany in the cabinet/box of that digital amp project that I scrapped. Many dulcimer makers just seem to glue the headstock separately to the end block but I want mine to be extend to that area for strength so I need to make the headstock before I start bending the sides a challenge I must conquer but am not looking forward to! Just as well I have a spare strip to practice on!

Friday, 21 May 2010

Taking Stock

I‘ve just realised that this Dulcimer would be my tenth home made instrument! So I though it would be a good time to take stock of what I had built then I went on adding projects to the list and all this in the last ten years!

1. Mosrite copy – “Mozzie” Solid Poplar Body –Vox tremolo ( Bolt on Neck from old Eko stock)
2. Electric 12 string “Lady V” Semi Hollow Ash body, book matched flame maple top .
3. 12 string Mando Guitar “Woody” Maple Body homemade bridge
4. 12 String Mando Guitar-“Bluey” Quadruple strung! Ukulele
5. Electric Guitar “The Les Pew” 150 year old Semi hollow Pine Body
6. 6 String Octave banjo (A new shorter neck made for broken English Zither banjo)
7. Headless Bass -Pine body (Neck from a Westone Thunder 1A Bass)
8. Cigar Box Ukulele – Drift wood mahogany neck
9. 1 string Diddley Bow - Pew Body/neck
10. Mountain Dulcimer –in progress!

Other projects

Rotary speaker- utilising chocolate tins!
Beer bottle cap percussion machine (waiting reworking)
Double Treble booster/tone bender pedal
100watt general purpose amplifier rebuild (unfinished)
17watt Valve Amplifier-+ speaker cab From modified English 1960’s Hifi amplifier.
Digital amplifier (scrapped) –power amp is in the rotary speaker
Ultra low power valve amp (scrapped)

Song writing (listed only those I publicly perform)

The Grand Old Pier
Black River
Need and Want

Painting (Haven’t done any for a few years!) These spring to mind;

Nancy Kelly’s A Christmas Dream Cd cover (sold to NK)
Virginia Haze portrait (sold to “VH”)
The Muffs (on The Muffs myspace page)

Plus helping out with a youth group and of course a full time job! Well it beats watching TV! ..or washing the car. How does my wife put up with me?

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

First real Dulcimer blog

I have found a design I like, (though won't have heart sound holes) have scaled the photo up to a full size template and what do you know it fits my available wood from that plywood cabinet exactly!

Timber from top to bottom;

The top!

The sides- will have to have the varnish sanded right off so the steam/water can penetrate it for bending - scary must take my time!

THe bottom - Not ideal as it has an off set-unmatched join in the laminate but does have a piece of mahogany laminate stuck to the other side that will show nicely through the sound holes!

This is my first real acoustic instrument, this time no cigar boxes or tobacco tin sound box so it will be a challenge!

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Mulling over yesterdays post

Well I flirted with the idea of a fret board that could be moved up and down under the strings rather that moving the stings and also a twin "neck" with side by side dulcimer and lap slide but maybe I should just make myself a a conventional dulcimer. Albiet rectangular.
Here is photo of the two sides of that cabinet, one showing the inside the other the outside ,they are both the same. Pretty eh?

Saturday, 15 May 2010

The Dulcide? Slideimer? - Americana in a box!

When we put the pew into the kitchen it made a rather plain 1960's? glass fronted cabinet homeless, so plain that my wife actually let me take it apart (with a few taps of a hammer) and keep the wood. It's thin ply with rather a nice laminate on it so ideal for the back and sides of an acoustic instrument of some kind! I'd just have to buy a solid top. Square guitars went through my mind, a kind of unplugged version of Bo Diddley's Gretsch but now I'm thinking DUlcimer and Lap Steel all at the same time! YOu see I'd like both but don't have the space so why not make a convertible instrument where the 6 stings can be raised for slide playing then (and here's the clever bit) with a flick of a lever two two they drop down , four over the frets and two into slots running down the fret board so they are out of play and leave the correct spaces for a dulcimer! It won't be instant as the strings would have to be slacked and re-tuned but it should only take a few minutes also I might have to compromise with gauge I have yet to do any research, just remember you saw it here first! I hope!

Also... Note the photo below of the box I found in some junk- it reminds me of a small mixing desk ,it used to be fairly common to build your own but nobody bothers any more because they are so cheap, but so what! As you can see I've laid out some knobs to get an idea of what it could accommodate-about 5 stereo channels with pan and two band eq.
Anyhow no promises I'll build either but I keep you updated as always!

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Diddley Cam!

Note: The key is permanently screwed to the tin now! (and this one isn't actually my back door key)

Monday, 3 May 2010

Diddley bow at open mic night.

I've just got back from playing my diddley bow at my folk club's open mic.

I arrived to pretty full hall (HELP!) and the way to my seat (the one nearest the power outlet) the stainless steel nut I was using as a bridge fell off and rolled away under a table so I had to improvise using my back door key which was probably more authentic anyway, I explained this in my introduction speech along with a little back ground history, anyway after about a minute or so of playing I had pretty much exhausted all I had learnt in a day and was wondering how to finish when my key slipped out from under the string bringing me to an abrupt halt! I explained that my back door key had fallen off which got a good laugh and was referred to by other musicians several time during the rest of the evening! Anyhow I think it's novelty value won them over because they loved it! I even got the offer to play a duet with a harmonica player but we ran out of time. Maybe another time then. I tried to get them to stomp along with the beat but they wouldn't play ball so next time I'll play it with my foot operated - beer cap- shaky stick thing. Now I need a mic and a way to inject my voice into my guitar amp so I can keep up with the volume!Ok better not push it too far! Oh and write some blues songs.
So it seems you can play cranked up electric rock and roll at a traditional folk cub as long as you call it blues and play it on a diddley bow!;)

The rest of the pew installed in our kitchen.