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Tell About Your Crazy "Rube-Goldberg" Musical Contraptions, HomeBrew Audio Solutions


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Originally posted by Lee Flier:

LOL sounds like we need to have a "Rube Goldberg recording" contest. Whoever can come up with the most arcane way to record and the most twisted signal path wins.

and then,

 

Originally answered by TheBlue1:

That one totally deserves its own thread. If not its own forum.

I agree. Tell us about your crazy adventures in getting "the sound", or even "a sound". It can be stuff you've done to record, play out, or play in. It can even be setups or things you've seen somewhere else being done by other people (the picture of the guitar capo made of a pencil and two lamp clamps comes to mind).

 

I made my own post in a previous thread (i'll repost it here if y'all want) but there are lots of other folks here that are surely more ingenious and clever at ummm...Redneck Engineering than I am.

 

So let's hear it! Give us your bizarre techniques, your mind-boggling contraptions and other elegant solutions devised from only what you had on hand. Good, bad, ugly, big or small, all is welcome. If you posted something in that other thread, repost it here, and elaborate on it. :thu:

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My Rube G. moment was similar to Fripps Frippertronics. I was doing this around 1980. I had 2 Sony reel to reels that I setup side by side. The tape would pass through both machines. I would record on track 1 on machine 1. Machine 2 would play that track about 2.5 seconds later (depending how far apart the machines were). The output from machine 2 would record on track 2 on machine 1. And then play on machine 2.

 

That's not much of a big deal now with digital delays and loop stations. But it was not an easy effect to create back then. I think I have one piece I created from this setup. If I can find it I'll post it.

 

Marc

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Back in 1984 a "producer" I was working with (actually a fellow engineering student at MTSU) wanted to create a sound effect that sounded like a UFO taking off and flying aound the room for the intro and fade out of a song of mine. The way he acheived this was by sending the console noise from the studio's Harrison mixing desk to an Ursa Major Space Station delay we had in our effect rack and bring the affected signal back to the same channel. He and the other engineer on the project monkeyed around with the levels and panning during the mixdown to actually create the sound effect.

 

It sounded really cool. :thu:

 

I don't know if I have copy of this anywhere. :( If I find it I'll post it.

Mudcat's music on Soundclick

 

"Work hard. Rock hard. Eat hard. Sleep hard. Grow big. Wear glasses if you need 'em."-The Webb Wilder Credo-

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Yeah, definitely repost yours here!

 

Maybe in a little bit ;) I didn't want to do it w/o request tho, because it would then just seem like self-aggrandizing spam.

Meanwhile, i know you have some makeshift drum stories. OUT WITH THEM!!! :D

 

Hush.

Yeah! That's the stuff!

 

Billster

That's more Ed Towles than Rube G., but you get an E for effort! :thu:

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Dammit... I've just spent the last ten minutes trying to find the "Anal Miking" thread that was on here a couple of years ago. No luck. :mad:

 

...not that I've ever actually tried any of the specific techniques we discussed....

 

Cheers!

Spencer

"I prefer to beat my opponents the old-fashioned way....BRUTALLY!!!!"
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I don't know if this qualifies or not. Maybe I shouldn't even say it but.... On one song I had a 12 string acoustic and I put a paperclip on each string of the guitar (12 paperclips). So they were all hooked into the strings and laid over the sound hole. I had to play the guitar a certain way so they didn't bounce up to the neck to much. When i would strum the guitar the paperclips would bounce off the strings back and forth and rattle. It had a strange and cool tone. I named the song, Paperclips. :D

Eveyone always asks me how i came up with the tone of my guitar after they hear the song.

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Originally posted by Hush.:

My Rube G. moment was similar to Fripps Frippertronics. I was doing this around 1980. I had 2 Sony reel to reels that I setup side by side. The tape would pass through both machines. I would record on track 1 on machine 1. Machine 2 would play that track about 2.5 seconds later (depending how far apart the machines were). The output from machine 2 would record on track 2 on machine 1. And then play on machine 2.

 

That's not much of a big deal now with digital delays and loop stations. But it was not an easy effect to create back then. I think I have one piece I created from this setup. If I can find it I'll post it.

 

Marc

I set up an "Eno loop" like that when I was about 14 in the mid-60's (long before I'd hear about Eno). I even tried rigging in a third tape machine... But it was all about trying to rig up a conventional echo. But I soon realized the delay was going to be really long.

 

But since I didn't play music back then, all I could think to do with it was sing a couple rounds of Row, Row, Your Boat.

 

Many years later I'd build a live improv synth act around a 7.8 second digital delay loop. (See, I'm really an old-timer. I said "digital delay loop."), later replacing the the simple delay with a pair of Lexicon Jammans, which would eventually get a drum machine hooked to them, which would ultimately take my once-successful dream-ambient act into a downward spiral of funky (and sometimes not so funky) beats.

 

That was called Frippenstein . At it's most complex there were abaout 80 signal and MIDI cables -- not counting wall warts and IEC cables. After I'd been doing it a while, a coffee house owner where I'd played introduced me to a young guy who was doing the same thing with guitars. (That's the duo in the link above.)

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Ryst... that Definately qualifies :thu:

 

Here's my post from the other thread, though I apologize because it *is* quite lengthy. Here goes:

 

========

 

Well, since you asked...Some horrible recording setups i've used:

 

(pre four-track)

 

- Multiple boomboxes i chained together to create a 3-track recording deck. I synchronized the playback of two decks by linking their cassette driving mechanisms with a shaft i hacked out of a small plastic tube (pipe from an HO Railroad kit, iirc).

 

Two of them allowed me to engage the "high speed dubbing" feature during both record and playback, as well as play both sides of the dual-cassette at the same time. Other effects were the ability to dial in various radio stations, and one of these boomboxes was the one that would bring in the "data repeater" stations i've mentioned before. Another boombox had recording level controls (and VU meters!) that would allow me to overdrive the inputs. This was my first distortion effect!

 

(post four-track)

 

- Reverb units built out of a square metal frame with various coil springs and metal wire stretched across it, set in a styrofoam cooler with a mic and speaker. Other designs used a set of screen door springs in a 4' length of PVC with a speaker on one side and a mic in the other. Yet another design employed the styrofoam cooler, a mic, a speaker, and an entire roll of alyewmineeum foil cut into carefully textured sheets that sat on top of each other and gave a "splattery" reverb sound. I vaguely remember a few other variations on these ideas, but it's been about 10 years or so. I originally did this because the reverb went out on my amp. I later used variations as an outboard effect for my 4-track.

 

- An assortment of slapback/flanger/chorus type effects out of the remnants of the boomboxes i mentioned earlier. One of my most elaborate setups involved a loop of cassette tape that was pulled through various Lego pulleys and wheels and things across all the recording and playback heads of a pair of dual-cassette boomboxes. I created "Tremolo" effects by varying the distance of the tape from the head, "phaser-esquent" effects by moving the tape side to side on the head. Sometimes, i would record with one head and (through a ratcheting motion of 2 steps forward, 1 step back) run the tape backwards-ish across the other head. It made for a very strange reverb/delay effect. Since none of these boomboxes had "METAL" setting, using METAL tapes (as opposed to Cr02) would result in the sound not getting fully erased the first time around, so things would repeat several times instead of once. Lo-fi tapes sounded warmer, btw.

 

- Mechanical panning effects with Lego machines operating one or more volume knobs.

 

- Rotating speakers (erector set, this time)

 

- Various "soundtanks" as i called them. Essentially speakers in an enclosed, insulated container with a microphone that i could move to different positions and angles. Unfortunately, a great deal of my recording inspration would come after 11pm and go long into the morning. I was looking for a better sounding alternative to recording direct, but without disturbing anyone. I used a bajillion cardboard, styrofoam, cast expanding foam, pvc, wooden and even once concrete cinder-block enclosures, all packed with combinations of fiberglass, expanding foam, cotton balls, junk t-shirts from the goodwill, naugahyde, foil, layers of drywall and foam insulation, even once bags of thick mud. I experimented with everything. Some boxes were big enough to put my whole amp in, but other times i used a boombox speaker, headphones or an assortment of other small, naked speakers i had collected over the years. Sometimes I drove the speakers with my Peavey Pacer guitar amp, sometimes with a G-Blaster pocket amp, sometimes with a walkman or one of the boomboxes. I have several dozen tapes of noodling up to complete songs recorded between 1994 and 1997, and 85% of everything used a soundtank in some form or another. In some cases i got some really amazing, deceptive sounds that would make you think "wall of stacks" but you'd be disenchanted to discover it was 2 dixie cups taped together, bottoms cut out, with headphone speakers glued to the outside, all wrapped in a towel. One speaker acts like a speaker, and drives the other one (which acts like a microphone) with the semi-airtight seal.

 

I'd also mounted a speaker in one end of a PVC pipe, put a microphone in the middle, and utilized lego/erector/??? contraptions to move a plunger in and out, for a bit of a phaser type effect.

 

- Guitar-->stompbox-->4-track. *cringe*

 

- Sometimes doing the above to get an idea down at 3 am, then later bouncing it to another track by sending it out through an amp and back in through a mic to minimize the 'raspiness'.

 

- I had 2 phone numbers in the house. I called one phone with the other. I recorded through the USWest Telephone System. More than once. Tried to enlist the participation of a friend to record long distance. Attempts were unsuccessful.

 

- I've clamped various small speakers and piezoelectric buzzers to the various parts usually the headstock) of my guitar, and fed them some of the mixing console-amplified signal in an attempt to develop harmonic feedback while recording direct. I've had semi-successful results. The biggest problem is that you only get feedback from certain frequencies, and they're usually not the ones you want, or they're not enough to really take off. I *have* however, used speakers and buzzers right up against the pickups to induce microphonic squeal, for that "punched-in pickup wail" effect. I went through a phase where I was trying to get the illusion of impossibly loud guitar at line-levels. I must say that i've got a few examples i'm quite proud of, and a lot that i'm not.

 

- Before I had an acoustic guitar, i miked the rear chamber of my strat. Later i cut up a foam 'beer can cooler' to fit the back and hold the mic. It was pretty convincing, except when my stomach gurgled.

 

- I've made believable banjo sounds with a sock rolled up under the strings up against the bridge of the guitar.

 

- I've electrified kazoos. I've built rubberband guitars, harps and stuff, and electrified those too. I'm farking crazy, you do realize this, right?

 

- Special effects... Oh geez... you think the post above is long winded... i'm reeling with the number of stuff i've 'simulated' on tape- bombs dropping, explosions, spaceships, planes/trains/automobiles, sounds of bong hits, crickets, dogs, birds, cats, other instruments... On and on. We once here talked about my set of 'drums' i made. I could dig up the thread, but i just don't have the time now.

 

I've got more, but i should probably stop here

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phaeton,

 

I also put paperclips on my electric guitar and they magnetically stuck to the pick ups. Also a good banjo sound. :thu: .

 

I stole a Waffle House menu from Waffle House, which I still have, and ran the mic I was recoding with through a bunch of guitar pedals and rack effects while shaking the Waffle House menu in front of the mic to make that warbly, wavy, windy sound. After it went through all the effects it sounded pretty cool. :D

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yes please its like the flashing lights in those japanese cartoons

 

i can'.....aghhhhhhchkkkkkk

 

thud.................................................................................................................................................

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Oh yeah I just remembered one...

 

My dad had just bought me a Silvertone guitar for $35. But I didn't have an amp. So I took one of these mono cassette decks and hacked it.

 

Now I really had very little knowledge of electronics but I knew that there was an amp in the cassete deck. So I played with the wires until I jurry rigged it to funtion like an amp! Thinking back now I'm amazed it worked.

 

I pulled out the electronics and glued them into this 1'x1'x 3" press board box I had built. I then covered the box with some blue carpet. I used the speaker grill from the cassette on the box.

 

I used that as my amp for a few months until it started smoking. :eek:

 

Dad then took pity on me and bought me (I think) a Marlboro Amp. I don't even remember what hapened to that amp, except it was replaced by a Fender Twin.

 

Marc

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Well, I was in that original thread, and a couple of people commented about something I still do on occasion, so I'll go ahead and post it.

 

I'm an old fart... and I grew up in the analog tape era. I'm a big Beatles fan, and they used to use varispeed on analog tape decks for several creative purposes. I've stolen those techniques more than a few times in my life... :D the problem is that my current recording system does not offer a varispeed control. Why they didn't bother putting that into PT (or any other DAW) is beyond me... at least with the internal clock. Anyway, I use an external master word clock generator that doesn't offer varispeed (which in a digital system, requires the variation of the sample rate clock), so I'm stuck without varispeed. That's unacceptable to me.

 

So I purchased a used blackface ADAT deck.

 

I use the Lucid GENx6 for my day to day clocking duities. It feeds every digital device in the room via standard BNC connector equipped coax cables, except for those devices that have to get their word clock off of incoming S/PDIF or ADAT lightpipe. Those devices get their word clock via "daisy chaining" from other devices - such as my Yamaha 01V96 mixer - via one of those interfaces. When I want to varispeed, I connect a lightpipe cable from the ADAT deck, into the Yamaha, set the Yamaha to get its wordclock from that incoming lightpipe instead of the BNC word clock input, and the Yamaha "passes" the WC data (via lightpipe) to my PT system. If I want to drop pitch / slow the speed, I do it via the ADAT deck's vari speed on the front panel.

 

Cheap and simple - or relatively simple. That varispeed capability was my sole reason for buying the ADAT deck. It was well worth the couple hundred bucks (or whatever it was) that I paid for the used ADAT deck just to get the varispeed capability back.

 

It's really not all THAT RG in nature, is it? :)

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Image blocked. Another win for FireFox!

 

Yep ;)

 

But what does that have to do with amplified rubberband-strung autoharps built out of Dominoes Pizza boxes? :confused:

Dr. Seuss: The Original White Rapper

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WWND?

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well this is different but I mounted a wah-wah pedal (for the rhodes on top) on a Hammond pedalboard. It was on tracks, so you could slide it out with your foot for wah-wah time, and slide it back out of the way to play the organ pedals. I finally found a good source for nice sliders at a place that made office furntiture.

A WOP BOP A LU BOP, A LOP BAM BOOM!

 

"There is nothing I regret so much as my good behavior. What demon possessed me that I behaved so well?" -Henry David Thoreau

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Oh, that was great! Nothing's too strange to accomplish a given task.

 

It would have been better if you'd had a toaster with some waffles pop up, a squirrel eat the waffles and eat through the cord that dropped the kick drum cover on the drum though.

"Cisco Kid, was a friend of mine"
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