Cheap guitar amp repaired by replacing the distortion circuit

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It’s an understatement that [Troy] is not impressed with the distortion circuitry built into this guitar amp. He picked it up for $40 on Kijiji (basically local classified ads run by eBay) so he wasn’t afraid to get elbow deep in its inner workings to see what was going on. It only took him a few minutes to solder together the distortion circuitry that fixed it. Figuring out what needed fixing is another story.

[Troy] uses some colorful language and metaphors to illustrate his disdain for the sound of the overdrive option. He hooked it up to an oscilloscope and his trained eye immediately tells him that it’s not working as it should. After studying the PCB and working out a schematic he reworked the circuit with this pair of diodes and a resistor. It still uses a bit of filtering on the board, but does away with all of the other cruft. What remains is a cheap amp, but one that actually functions.

 

[Update] Vladimir’s Robot Guitar

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[Vladimir Demin] is somewhat of a legend for us; in his spare time he’s been mastering the automation of musical instruments. This time he’s back with upgrades to his build and four new videos. [Vladimir's] top priority was to rework the strumming mechanism that earlier ran on solenoids. He’s improved the sound quality and reduced the clicks by swapped to stepper motors and overhauling the software.

Compared to his earlier setup, this one sounds more soulful and less automated, but [Vladimir] admits that it’s still not good enough and that he’s working on a new, brilliant implementation. Until then, take a few minutes and check out the rest of the videos below, then join us in scratching our heads in amazement: everything is built with simple hand tools.

[Vladimir] has come a long way, and it started with this Bayan (button accordion). Last year’s guitar build is also worth a look, as well as an in-depth interview.

[Read more...]

Making a real instrument out of a Kaoss pad and ribbon controllers

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MIDI guitars have been around since the 80s, and nearly without exception they are designed as direct, one-to-one copies of their acoustic and electric brethren. [Michael] has been working on turning this convention on its head with the Misa Tri-Bass, a MIDI guitar designed to be the perfect guitar-shaped synthesizer interface.

The tri-bass doesn’t produce any sound itself; instead, it’s a polyphonic MIDI controller with three channels controlled by three ribbon controllers on the neck. The body contains a huge touch screen divided into four MIDI channels, essentially turning this guitar into an instrument designed for electronic music first, and not an acoustic instrument kludged into filling an electronic role.

Unlike a whole lot of other digital guitar-shaped MIDI controllers, the tri-bass is actually made out of wood. Yes, the neck is made out of maple (inlaid with the three ribbon controllers, of course), and the body comes directly from a tree, with the styling inspired by a forgotten retro-modern design. It’s an impressive piece of kit, and we can’t wait to see [Michael]‘s handiwork in the hands of digital guitarists the world over.

You can check out a video of [Michael] rockin out below.

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FLAMEnco guitar

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[John] says, “I noticed an unfortunate lack of many flamethrower guitars on the web so I filled the need. ” That’s just awesome by us.

This series of guitar-mounted flamethrowers started with a small build, able to shoot a six-foot flame for about 40 seconds. Yes, very theatrical, but not something you’d want to change out after every song. From there the builds progressed to systems with more barrels, more fuel tanks, and a huge system that shoots 18-foot long flames colored with standard pyrotechnic supplies.

It should go without saying that this stuff probably isn’t something you should try at home. That being said, you really have to admire the craftsmanship and tenacity to make a guitar mounted flamethrower. Just don’t bring it to an indoor gig.

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From maple and spruce to an archtop guitar

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While the violin maker gets most of the acclaim and prestige for turning lumber into musical instruments, you can’t deny the sheer beauty and grandeur of a jazz-style archtop guitar. Much larger than a violin or viola, the scale of a guitar can still lend itself to the exacting artistry of a master luthier, while adding some interesting engineering challenges not found in smaller stringed instruments.

Last year, [Bert van der Meij] built an archtop guitar for his daughter by following the bible written by a modern master, [Robert Benedetto]. The build began by sourcing huge blocks of quartersawn maple and spruce, carefully carving the spruce for the top and the maple for the back. The neck is made of three laminated strips of maple, carefully contoured with only hand tools.

In [Bert]‘s video, there’s some interesting examples of the tools used in the creation of this fine instrument. Instead of carving the inside and outside of the top independently, [Bert] only carved the top and used a drill press set to a certain depth to rough out the back. With only a minimum of planing, this ensures the top has a constant thickness with a minimum of work.

The end product is  a fine enough instrument to find its way onto the stage of any jazz club, as shown in a demo video of a few different musicians rocking out. A magnificent piece of work, and a wonderful gift to [Bert]‘s daughter.

 

Guitarduino show and tell

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[Igor Stolarsky] plays in a band called 3′s & Sevens. We’d say he is the Guitarist but since he’s playing this hacked axe we probably should call him the band’s Guitarduinist. Scroll down and listen to the quick demo clip of what he can do with the hardware add-ons, then check out his video explanation of the hardware.

There are several added inputs attached to the guitar itself. The most obvious is the set of colored buttons which are a shield riding on the Arduino board itself. This attaches to his computer via a USB cable where it is controlling his MaxMSP patches. They’re out of the way and act as something of a sample looper which he can then play along with. But look at the guitar body under his strumming hand and you’ll also see a few grey patches. These, along with one long strip on the back of the neck, are pressure sensors which he actuates while playing. The result is a level of seamless integration we don’t remember seeing before. Now he just needs to move the prototype to a wireless system and he’ll be set.

If you don’t have the skills to shred like [Igor] perhaps an automatic chording device will give you a leg up.

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Horribly complicated electric guitar keyboard

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Gutarist, hacker, and mustache enthusiast [David Neevel] brought together way too many pieces of hardware in order to use his electric guitar as a computer keyboard.

So let’s dig into the house of cards he built for the project. It starts off with the guitar which has been fitted with an additional pickup to interface with a Roland GR-33 synthesizer pedal. That outputs a MIDI signal, which many hackers would have connected to the computer and parsed with a simple script. But not [David], he connected it to an Arduino via an optisolator. Well that’s not too ridiculous, right? Don’t you think he’ll just parse the MIDI signals and push them to the computer via the Arduino’s USB port? Wrong! He translates the MIDI signals into combinations for a big relay board which is emulating the key matrix of an old USB keyboard. But as you can see in the demo video after the jump it works quite well.

If you’re more of the drumming sort there’s an electric drum set version of this hack too.

[Read more...]