DeArmond-inspired Volume/Tone Control Box

Well, it only took me 2-3 of years to get around to making those control boxes I hinted at! Available in the store.

In case you’re not familiar, vintage DeArmond floating pickups came with a control box that would screw on behind the bridge onto a “monkey on a stick” mount. The original ones were volume only, but later ones looked like this… thing:

An original DeArmond rhythm chief control box.

These were quite complex, and had two knobs and some kind of mysterious “rhythm/lead” toggle switch. They also had an obscure screw-on connector. Many people would replace these with 1/8″ jacks.

Rather than try to figure out all that’s going on there, I just went with a basic single coil volume/tone circuit with a .022uf capacitor. A couple of technological updates we as a society have had since the 50s are “stacked” combo pots that put a volume and tone control on the same axis, and more compact 1/4″ jacks. I was keen to use both to save horizontal space and not require some kind of cable to convert the connector. I dislike “dongles” and propriety in general.

My design incorporates these components and means a standard instrument cable can go right into the control box, and you get both volume and tone in one slot. The mounting plate is metal and is grounded internally with the knobs.

It measures 18.3mm x 22.4mm x 52.4mm for the housing, and the knobs stick up about 30mm from the top of the housing. These will come with 10″ of cable that you can connect directly to a pickup, or install some kind of connector as needed.

Available in the store as available.

Project: make your own face mask out of tissue paper

In a Coronavirus pandemic world, working on guitar-related projects suddenly seems a bit… frivolous. Thanks to some cool 3d-printed life-saving solutions hitting the news during this time, my mind has shifted towards PPE (Personal protective equipment). Specifically, protective face masks which are difficult to come by these days.

Do your worst, large droplets

Now before I get the lecture: no, these are no replacement for N95 masks, which are designed to filter airborne particles of down to .3 microns. I see this as more of a solution for people trying to navigate in public without infecting anyone else and lowering your chances of inhaling large droplets from other folks coughing or sneezing. Also, if you make your own masks, you don’t have to go out and buy them reducing stock that should probably go to medical professionals. Finally, it’s better than nothing.

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Project: Audio Technica AT Pro 70, AT831b battery cover

Another quickie: I finally lost the battery cover to my AT Pro 70 lavalier microphone. Whipped this up right quick and sent it to the printer. Got the dimensions and curvature right on the first try!

It’s up on Thingiverse here: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4192857

If you rather just purchase one from me, head over to the store, where apparently I’m the leading supplier of AT lavalier microphone parts and accessories in the world. This is the life I have chosen.

Project: Custom Archtop F-hole Covers

Anyone who has tried to play a loud room with a nice, resonant archtop knows this problem well: you briefly lift your fingers off the strings and “WOOM”…. debilitating feedback through your amp.

There’s a low-fi quick fix for this of course, just run to the restroom and come back with a few handfuls of toilet paper. Then stuff ’em in the sound holes, like so:

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Octoprint: free SMS notifications on filament runout and more

While I’ve never had a spool of filament run out mid-print, it was time to prepare for the inevitable. First, I would need a sensor to detect the scenario. Also, time is usually of the essence if you’d like to save the print and swap in new material, and I figured it would be best to get an instant notification via SMS.

I came up with a solution using my preferred 3D printer interface, OctoPrint. It was a bit involved, so buckle up! This guide assumes you have some experience with basic electronics, 3D printing, OctoPrint, and Raspbian (ssh, shell, GPIO).

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Converting machine screws to thumbscrews

Thumbscrews are useful for things you want to take apart/adjust by hand, such as guitar pedals, cases, clamps, and microphone stands.

I often find myself wanting a thumbscrew for something that didn’t come with them, but I’m too impatient to order one or visit the hardware store, especially when I have a bunch of perfectly-good matching machine screws around the house. So why not make them?

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Adding the missing STOP button to the JamMan Solo XT

The JamMan Solo XT by Digitech is a basic, compact, affordable looper pedal. It does most everything I would need, but after using it a few months, I found the lack of a dedicated stop button really frustrating. Sure, you can stop a loop by quickly double-tapping, but this is actually not very easy to do in the heat of the moment, especially when you’re juggling all the other things you need to remember in this one-pedal setup (long-press is undo, tap once is overdub/start track/start record).

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Archtop tailpiece mount for 1/4″ output jacks

Ugh, drilling holes in old acoustic archtops, right?

Unfortunately, for adding an output jack there are not a lot of good solutions. In the past, I have super-glued them under pickguards, which works fine for the casual cross-legged sit-‘n’-play but it isn’t the most stable thing when you’re standing. So what can be done?

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Mid-century pole lamp – replacement cone lampshades

I’ve had this mid-century pole lamp that’s been sitting in disrepair. The plastic (?) cone lampshades started disintegrating and one day a friend was over, reached up to adjust one and it exploded and shattered in his hand. Game over. No one makes replacements for these.

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