Friday, April 3, 2020

Thursday, February 6, 2020


I bought a Peavey Audition 110 amplifier way back in 1990 or so when I also had a pickup installed on my Yamaha acoustic guitar. I never was happy with the sound from the amp but I didn't know the difference and thought that was just how they sounded. Now I know the amp was for an electric guitar, not an acoustic. I tried to sell it this last year and got one bite. They backed out because I was too far out of the way from their Costco trip. Well, it all worked out for the better.

I pulled the amp out of storage and plugged in my license plate guitar. It sounded great! Growly, crunchy, wailing the blues great. So I can use this amp after all.

I thought I should give it a new housing. Something that goes with a home-made 3 or 4-string guitar. I shopped around some vintage stores in town and found an old paperboard trunk for $18. For an amp I was willing to sell for $35, if the project didn't work out then I wouldn't be out much money. Fortunately, when I plugged it in and powered it up it did not burst into flames. Yay!

I added a battery-powered equalizer so I could plug in a cigar bog guitar or license plate guitar that doesn't have one installed. I used some paduak I had left over from some experimental license plate guitar bodies and headstocks and used that for trim. I didn't have enough to trim the equalizer but I'm okay with that. I think all that's left to do is to apply some cool stickers.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Highway 61 Tribute License Plate Guitar

Using a Mississippi license plate, I thought a tribute to the Blues Highway would be appropriate. I softened up the instrument, i.e., rounded all the corners, so it's much more comfortable than the RAGBRAI guitar. (BTW, I sent the RAGBRAI guitar to our friends in Mason City, Iowa and they love it.) I also profiled the neck so it's more like a regular guitar. This guitar plays and sounds good. I hope I keep getting better at making them.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Latest Homemade Instrument

In July of 2018, while touring the country by bicycle, my wife and I met some neat people in Mason City, Iowa. We spent a couple of days with them. They invited us to return in 2019 and ride with their team during RAGBRAI.  Last April we figured we could make it and signed up. Our son, Geoff, joined us, too. We spent a week with Team Zippy. The team is named after Zippy the Pinhead, an absurdist cartoon character created by Bill Griffith who was kind enough to allow the team to use Zippy's likeness at no charge. While in Iowa I picked up a couple of Iowa license plates with the intent of building a guitar for my friends there. I think they'll be pleased with it. I should also mention that it plays and sounds great.

A 2019 RAGBRAI-themed license plate guitar. 

Decals of the overnight stay cities.

It's acoustic/electric.

Decals of the daily wristbands worn by registered rides.

A photo of the Team Zippy bus graces the back.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Home Made Music Gear

I built a microphone and a pre-amp this week. The microphone was supposed to have one piezo pickup in it. Just to see what happens I put two different sized piezos in and added an on-off-on switch so I could switch input between the two. There is a subtle difference, which is neat. Vocals are similar to the sound of an AM radio. I have a couple of songs I think this would be useful for. Now to get a stand to put this on. It's really sensitive so it would be best to have it on a stand and not touch it. The harmonica sounds good going through it, too.

I also built a pre-amp for my guitar and for the microphone. (I built the Brick House amp last year.) The guitar has a piezo pickup and it sounds pretty trashy plugged straight into the amp. The pre-amp really helps improve the sound. The pre-amp is also a necessity for the microphone above. 

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Clearing My Mind

Kathy and I came home to help and support a dear friend after her husband died in an accident. Yesterday we viewed his body before he was cremated. Last night we helped write his obituary. Tonight we gather photos for me to create a video for the service.

Early this morning I went for a bike ride.

I was halfway up Doomsday Hill when I remembered that one of my favorites rides is climbing Houston Road, crossing the rim along Palisades Park, and dropping down to Latah Creek.

I crossed TJ Meenach Bridge and got on the Centennial Trail. Exiting at the Houston Road trailhead I crossed Government Way and headed for the gravel climb.

A nervous rafter of turkeys awaited me.

The climbing was harder than I expected, quite likely because touring cycling does not keep you in shape for this kind of riding. My legs and lungs were burning. There was some walking involved. 

I rode along the rim in Palisades Park.

The morning fog was slowly disappearing.

My Elephant bike rules.

And it's more visible than Lime.

Latah Creek.

Trail dropping from Inland Empire Highway to Latah Creek.

I crossed the Sandifur Bridge and made my way along the Centennial Trail back down Doomsday Hill and climbed Downriver to go home. This is a great way to get ready for the day.