We’re okay if you call out Not A Hack™ on this one, because “hack” really doesn’t do justice to the creations of [Martin] from [Wintergatan]. You’re probably familiar with the Marble Machine that went viral a few years ago, and while it was impressive as-is back then, and most people would have declared the project finished at that point, it has turned into a seemingly never-ending work-in-progress project that has certainly come a long way ever since. Its latest addition: the Cyber Capos as upgrade for the bass, and you can find out all about it in its build video — also embedded below.
If you play a string instrument and ever used a capo — the clamping little helper device to smack the pitch up — you may have found yourself wishing that you could use it on any arbitrary fret on each string. Sure, there are partial capos and the spider capo to select individual strings, but you’re still limited to transpose along a single fret. Well, [Martin]’s Cyber Capos, a mechanical construct of four arms sliding along the neck, serve exactly that purpose, which allows him to free up his hands for other things while the marbles keep bouncing.
But you don’t have to be a bass player, or any musician really, to appreciate [Martin]’s build videos. We praised his general attitude and hacker-like spirit already the first time we mentioned the Marble Machine, and just watching him getting excited about his work and the appreciation for people supporting and assisting in the project, while embracing his mistakes, is a genuine delight.
Needless to say that [Martin] likes some uniqueness in music instruments, and the bass with its separate volume control and output for each string qualifies on its own for that. If you’re curious about more on that, there’s another video about it embedded after the break. And for the really impatient ones, you can see the capos in action in the first video around the 12:35 mark.
Continue reading “All About That Bass – Marble Machine X Keeps Growing”
One of the best things about making music is that it’s so easy to do. There are countless ways to make interesting sounds out of nearly anything if you’re willing to experiment a little bit — just ask anyone who has ever made a guitar out of a cigar box and a broom handle.
[Vicious Squid] dug in to the fertile soil of the garden implement world and cultivated a three-string upright bass with a rich, soulful sound from a familiar workhorse — an aluminium wheelbarrow. Much of the build is made from reclaimed wood, like the solid mahogany neck from an old door frame, and a broom handle.
The bass is constructed arch-top style, meaning that the soundboard — the wood on the front with the f-holes — is a flat piece tacked to curved ribs that span the width of the ‘barrow. A broom handle sound post mounted front to back pushes vibrations from the soundboard to the aluminium body. To round out the agricultural aesthetic, [Vicious Squid] strung it with weed-whacker bass strings, which are no doubt inspired by the use of actual trimmer line.
It’s already plenty loud, but [Vicious Squid] added a piezo pickup for wheeling it into the recording studio. Slap your way past the break to hear a little ditty.
Are your instrument-building skills at the sapling stage? Start with something simpler, like a sliding rubber bandolin.
Continue reading “Wheelbarrow Bass Drives A Sound Garden”
If you play an instrument, you know how rewarding it is to watch and hear yourself reproduce your favorite songs and make new melodies. But you also know how steep the learning curve can be, how difficult it is to learn positions and notes while your body adjusts to the physical side. For stringed instruments, that means gaining muscle memory, growing fingertip calluses, and getting used to awkward arm positions.
For their final project in [Bruce Land]’s class on designing with microcontrollers, [Caitlin, Jackson, and Peter] decided to make a more accessible bass guitar. For starters, it can be placed flat on a table similar to a pedal steel guitar to get around those awkward arm positions. Instead of plucking or slapping the strings, the player wears a glove with a flex resistor on each finger, and plays the string by curling and uncurling their finger.
We think the team’s implementation of the left hand duties and fretboard is pretty clever. Each of the four strings has a break-beam detection circuit, and a single distance sensor decides where the finger is along the fretboard. Another great thing about this backpack-sized bass is that it never needs tuning. If you stay tuned, you can hear [Peter] play “Smoke On the Water” after the break.
There’s more than one way to make an air guitar — this one that does it with LIDAR.
Continue reading “AirBass Lets You Jam Wherever”
Stringed instruments make noise from the vibrations of tuned strings, using acoustic or electronic means to amplify those vibrations to the point where they’re loud enough to hear. The strings are triggered in a variety of ways – piano strings are hit with hammers, guitar strings are plucked, while violin strings are bowed. Meanwhile, [Martin] from the band [Wintergatan] is using marbles to play a bass guitar.
[Martin] starts out with a basic setup. The bass guitar is placed on the workbench, while a piece of wood is taped to a tripod. The wood has a hole drilled through it, and marbles are dropped through the aperture in an attempt to get them to land on the string. Plastic containers are used to easily alter the angle the bass guitar sits at, relative to the bench, while an acrylic guide sits around the string to try to guide the marbles in the desired direction. These guides are important to make sure the marbles hit the top of the string, and bounce cleanly in the desired direction afterwards.
The initial setup is too inconsistent, so [Martin] places a notch in the wood and builds a lever system to hold the marbles and then release them in a controlled manner. [Martin] then checks that the system works by analysing footage of the marble drop with slow motion video.
The video covers the CAD design of an eight-slot guide so the four strings of the bass can be played more rapidly than in their previous build. Two guides per string allow each string to play two notes in quick succession without having to worry about marble collisions from playing too quickly.
It’s a great build, and we’ve seen [Wintergatan]’s work before – namely, the incredible build that was the original Marble Machine.
Thanks to [Tim Trzepacz] for the tip!
It’s easy to dismiss this one at first glance. But once you hear [Tychsen81] playing the thing you’ll want to know more.
He posted the demonstration way back in 2009. It wasn’t until a year later that he filmed the particulars of how the thing was made. The strings are actually bass guitar strings, an A and D string that are tuned down to E and A to play along with Black Sabbath’s “Ironman”. The neck is made out of two boards. One serves as the fingerboard, which is fretless. The other is mounted under that in order to provide negative space for the bridge while keeping the strings at the right height for the fingerboard. The water bottle helps to amplify the sound and that’s why the bottom end of the strings pivot on the bridge, pass through the neck, and are anchored on the bottom edge of the bottle.
We’ve embedded both the demo and the build videos after the break.
If this gets you thinking about making your own instruments you will also be interested in the Whamola.
Continue reading “Acoustic Bass Guitar Uses Water Jug And Two Strings”
A while back [Michael] inherited a broken bass guitar from a friend. The headstock for this bass was cracked right down the middle, and the friend attempted a repair with a bolt and a couple of washers. After trying to figure out what the addition of a bolt was trying to accomplish, [Michael] set to work repairing this bass and ended up doing a headless conversion.
A headless bass, just as the name implies, does away with the headstock and moves the tuners to the other side of the guitar – in [Michael]’s case, right below the bridge. After sawing off the broken headstock above the truss rod, [Michael] made a string retainer and bolted it on to the remainder of the neck.
The tuners had to be moved, of course, so [Michael] routed out a section of the body below the bridge. Four holes were drilled and the original tuners slipped right in. The result is a perfectly functional bass that would fit right in to the tour van of an 80’s metal band.
You can check out [Michael]’s bass down in the pocket.
Continue reading “Turning A Broken Bass Into A Headless Bass”
If you’ve ever wanted to combine the extreme note-bending capability of a trombone with the obvious awesomeness of a bass guitar, maybe a whamola like this one could be for you! I’d never heard of one until recently, and haven’t picked up my bass in years, but my much more musically inclined cousin and I decided to build one.
It should be noted that this instrument is quite prone to string breakage if the handle is used too forcefully, so caution should be used both when building and playing. As with many hacks an old piece of equipment, a bass guitar in this case, was partially sacrificed to make it.
The build itself, outlined here for the main assembly, or this post for mounting the electronics, was quite simple. It took an afternoon of milling machine and miter saw work to get the 1 3/8 inch square piece of wood cut to size. Cavities for the electronics and a slot for the handle axis (components for a screen repair tool and a bolt) were cut with the milling machine – a router could also be used. It turned out to be a ton of fun to play, especially with an amp and distortion pedal. Check out the video after the break to see us playing it, as well as one of the whamola going together! Continue reading “How To Make A Whamola”