If you’re here you probably just acquired an earlier vintage DeArmond Rhythm Chief (RC1000 or RC1100) archtop guitar pickup, got all excited to plug it in, then looked at the volume/tone control box thought, “huh? what the heck is this weird screwy connector?”
Well I’ll tell you what that is: it’s a very antiquated microphone jack that isn’t really around anymore. And to save you the time, the part number is Switchcraft 5501FX, and you can get them at Mouser, Digikey, or Angela Instruments. You supply your own guitar cable, chop off one end, and attach this instead. Done.
Well, actually it’s not that simple. It’s a very unconventional connector and not really a “unscrew some stuff, then solder two contacts” sort of affair. But I’ll get to how to install one of those in a bit.
Another option is to just buy the whole dang cable. Archtop.com has them here…. for $49 + shipping. And I see them on Reverb for more or less the same.
Now, I don’t know about you but something doesn’t sit right about spending over $50 on on a cable (sorry, readers who work for Monster). Sure, if you’re a busy multi-thousandaire you will probably think nothing of snapping one up, but chances are you’re a dumpster-diving jazz guitarist wondering if there’s an alternative.
So is there a cheapskate, DIY, stuff-around-the-house solution? Well, as it turns out… yes there is.
I started with volume/tone control boxes, then volume-only control boxes, and now it only seems natural to go the “purest” form: a simple 1/4″ input jack enclosure for the various pickups you might encounter. And if you’re like me, you no doubt have a dusty drawer full of them: Krivo, DeArmond, Stimer, Kent, and so on. Why do we do this? Who knows.
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.
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.
There I was, minding my own business/not buying things when pal Nick Rossi. (who BTW, is a fantastic early jazz guitarist and scholar here in SF worthy of your internet stalking) sent me a Craigslist ad for this:
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).
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).
I recently returned from a nice week-long art residency along the northern California coast. My primary goal during this time was to record some solo jazz guitar. Imagine my dismay when I plugged in my Apogee Duet 2 interface on the first night and it didn’t turn on.
After an hour or so furiously swapping cables and downloading drivers, I discovered that it was indeed “working” and being detected by the system. That is, the inputs and outputs of the unit were functional. But the OLED screen that usually showed meter lights and other UI was busted.
Well luckily, you can do most of what you need with this thing in software using Apogee’s “Maestro” drivers and some might agree it’s a better overall UI experience. So I was able to get some recording done that week after all. But of course, the broken-ness of it all got under my skin and I started researching how to fix this out-of-warranty $300 future paperweight.
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.
Remind me to go on walks more often. I was passing by one of my favorite ephemera shops Stuff Modern and remembered they have a real convenient (and well decorated!) bathroom upstairs that I needed to use.
So I popped in, and stumbled upon this:
It’s an Ampro 12″ speaker cabinet with a glorious art deco metal faceplate. The grill cloth behind the faceplate is unscarred. The back of the cabinet is removable and latched on like a sewing machine case. The handle is spring-loaded and automatically stows itself down when not in use. It was $119 and looked as “like-new” as anything from the ’40s possibly can.