DIY Harp Mic.

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Recently I started some sort of cleaning in my basement.
I have collected too many electronic devices which are obsolete. Telephones, CD players etc.
And TONS of power supplies!
Much more then the devices. Because when some device gets broken and I just put it into recycling bin. But I ALWAYS keep the power supply having the idea it might be re-used with any other device or somehow… That never had happened.
Until now.
Now I’ve find some parts of the power supplies can be re-used. The coils of wire inside the transformers can be very good for the magnetic pickups.
But that’s another story.
As for now, I want to share my another invention. DIY Harp Mic.
I often see the harp players with those “green, blue etc. bullets”.
They (bullets microphones of course) look really antique. Despite the fact it’s just a re-build.
So I started thinking about making something similar but from the stuff which collects the dust in my basement.
Long story short.
When I was about to throw away the old wire telephone set I just dismantle the hand set.
And I’ve found the nice small round earpiece inside. Wait this detail is for listening and not for talking, right?
Never mind, I tried it and it worked as a microphone as well! No wonder for me because as a mic so the earphone have similar construction: wire coil, magnet and membrane. The difference lies mostly in the direction of the use.
Note that I’m not talking about quality of the sound regarding this exercise.

So I used:
- plastic prescription pills bottle as a body;
- telephone earpiece element;
- 1/4″ jack.

I was about to add the potentiometer for the volume control.
( you can see it in the image.
But this pills bottle is way to small for that.
It’s actually quite comfortable in the hand along with the harp.
But only without the volume button.

As a result I’ve got a very compact DIY Harp Mic which you can carry in your pocket without any complication.
Here it is:

Diddley Bow.

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I know, I know. It’s not a real instrument.

  1. It’s a lot of fun for me personally.
    - When you take a stick and an old string, and some magnet and few meters of wire… and you make it sound like a hell. Well, that’s fun! :)
  2. You can do a lot of quick and dirty tests and experiments and you always learn what is the best for you from it.
    - Originally I was using the regular piezo element from the buzzer as many CBG folks do.  But apart from the CBG I just can’t really shield it inside Diddley Bow. As you can guess – a lot of the feedback noise. So I decided to upgrade it with my new discovery: magnetic pickup made from the old broken headphones and the sewing bobbin.
  3. And finally it’s a well known tool among blues stars. Check this out:

So, why not to give a try?
As I’ve already noticed there was a piezo pickup at the beginning.
I don’t know if it’s my personal invention or somebody does it to.
Here is my idea of a magnetic pickup:
DIY Magnetic Pickup

  • an empty small sewing bobbin;
  • a copper wire from some old transformer/power supply;
  • a flat head metal screw;
  • a magnet (or two) from cheap broken headphones;
  • adhesive foam stripe to put everything

Click the image on the left to enlarge and see the result.

The “logistec” cup is just covering the extent of the crew for decorative goal only.
The input jack is a part left from the other project “Amigo Travel Guitar Goes Electric”.





And at the end just the frontend and backend close-ups for details.
front back

Cigar Box Ukulele exercise.

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This is about another “leftover” project.
Time by time, while shopping for the cigar boxes I collect the small boxes if they are nice looking and free (my favourite price).
I also had 3 tuning pegs and a 2′ poplar plank which left from the 6′ plank used in P-Bass Cigar Box Project

It’s not enough for another cigar box guitar. Mostly about the small sizes. So I decided to build something small. Ukulele. Cigar Box Ukulele. That’s how I named it.
Firstly I just have put all those three components together. And here’s what I’ve got.
Cigar Box Ukulele
And I still have a very strange feeling that I should of been stopped at this step.
I even know now why. But that’s later.

So I had proceeded making it electric. At the same time I was experimenting with DIY CBG pickup.
As a result, here’s how the instrument face looks like:
Cigar Box Ukulele: Frontend

Looks quite busy. Right?

And the worst of all is the ugly hole for the pickups.
There was a reason behind this issue. Originally I was going to make the pickups from the ferromagnetic buttons that you may find in many of the fridge magnets. But they are weaker and bigger in size. So I’ve ended up with the neodimium magnets from the old broken headsets. Read this for more details…
And that’s what making me think that I’d better left this ukulele just an acoustic thing.

But what is done is done. Here’s the final look of the cigar box ukulele:
Cigar Box Ukulele: final look

And as usual, the video clip will come shortly.
More details on this instrument in Projects

“Amigo” Travel Guitar Goes Electric.

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It’s been almost a year ago when I claimed that my “Amigo” travel guitar goes on the wall.
Amigo Travel Guitar
I was not impressed about its tuning ability and too high action.
I still think it has these problems.
But recently I have read a small post at some blog that the guy uses it as a lap style guitar and it worked for him pretty good.
Moreover, the high action turns from minus to plus in this case.
Well, I tried and it worked for me too!

But I always want more. :)
I decided to make it electric.
Just because this is the only possibility to achieve really “NASTY” slide guitar sound.
And as you probably know that the most ugly sound comes with a cheap pieso pickup.
Therefore my choice was very predictable.

And I’ve found one on eBay just for $4, free shipping from Hong Kong.
Pieso Pickup
This pickup is built with the idea to avoid any alterations to the guitar.
You just stick it by its self-adhesive surface to your guitar deck and put the attached input jack on a strap pin.
Voila! You are good to go!

Mmm, not my case.
I don’t want it on the top.
And the strap pin is not big enough for something else but the strap.
Remember, the is an extra small travel guitar.

Therefore, I decided to cut the original input jack and replace it with the regular one.
This way I could not avoid to drill my guitar.
But it will look way more professional comparing to mounting the pickup and all the wiring upon the guitar body.

To be continued…

DIY Pickup in 4 Easy Steps.

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Here is my way to make Cigar Box guitars pickups.

1. Get a sewing bobbing.
You are lucky if you have a sewing machine at home.
That means that you should have plenty of small bobbing around it. Or inside it.
The worst case scenario (which is my case) you may buy them by $1 for a half-dozen in Walmart.

2. Get a copper coil from any accessible transformer. It can be found inside any old (Older is better) power supply. I had plenty of them form multiple electronic devices.
If you have enough patience to dismantle the transformer carefully you’ll get a plastic frame with two (primary and secondary) coils. Use one of them. No matter which. You can wind al of them and choose experimentally.

3. Winding. There are plenty of recipes of making/buying the winding tools around. I’ve got some idea from them and made it my way.
The drill with the bobbin on one side and the croc clip stand on the other. It is not perfect and not stable enough if you don’t make any extra fixing.
But it’s quite OK for temporary use and you don’t plan to do the winding for the rest of your life.
Just don’t rush and start with a very low speed. You may want to lead the winding with your free hand. So the coils will be placed smoothly over the full width of the bobbin.

More coils you can make is better. Just leave a bit of space, like 1 mm. to the edge for fixing the coils with the glue or any other self-adhesive materials.
I used double sided foam tape covered with dielectric isolating tape.

4. Magnet.
Now I have to add the magnet. I was not able to find something which can go through the hole in the middle of the bobbin. So I decided to spit this step in two.

First. I’ve found a bolt which fits perfectly in the bobbin. Remember, you probably need the bolt end to extend e bit from the bobbin_screwbobbin. Because later you will need to adjust the gap between the string and the pickup. The sound may appear too weak if this gap is too big. At the same tine it shoud not be too close. Otherwise the string may touch the bolt with the ugly scratchy sound if played on the higher frets.

Second. The magnet itself.
I started to experiment with the fridge magnets. Many of them have nice perfectly shaped ferromagnetic piece inside.
But later I’ve found that usually they a not strong enough. You still can use them, especially if you have enough room to put 2 or 3 of them together.
But later I’ve found another beautiful source.
I have a friend who’s working in the big call center.
They have broken head phones thrown in recycling bin almost every day.
So I started to use the neodimium magnets from the broken phones which are way stronger! triple_magnet
So I’m placing like 2 or 3 of these small buttons right on the bolt head underneath the bobbin.
No need to attach it with the glue or something else!
Just remember that the bolt has to have a flat head.

And if you find that the end of the bolt on the top extends too much you may add one or more washers between the bolt head and the bobbin in order to adjust it.



In the next upcoming post I’ll try to demonstrate the implementation of this type of the DIY CBG pickup in my “qick’n’dirty’ project that I call “CBU: Cigar Box Ukulele”.

Mandolin in the woods: Miracles still may happen.

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It was my already quite old dream: to have and try a mandolin.

As a common hobby player collector I could not let myself to buy a brand new instrument just to give it a try.

So, I started to dig the CraigList and Kijiji  in a hope that someone may want to get rid of his mandolin which is just collecting the dust in some cabinet.

Especial gain in such hunt is if someone gives it away for free. No luck. While I know it’s possible.

Now. Slowly. My wife and me went from our good friend Allan’s place deep in the woods north of Lachute, Quebec.

It was around 11pm. Dark as it can be in the woods. The  road was running through the wooden hills. Time by time we were riding through he small summer time communities. “Mandolin!”, – my wife suddenly noticed? “What mandolin?” – I asked.

“There’s a mandolin upon the recycling bin on the side  of the drive way we just passed.”,  she responded. I was too curDSC_0022ious just to ignore it. A mandolin? In the woods? At 11pm? Upon the recycle been?  Sounded way too mystical.

So I stopped and backed up. There was a nice looking while way too dusty mandolin upon the bin!

No wonder, I picked it up.

Later, at home the ugly truth came out. Of course, the neck has a crack. But still, it can be glued and fixed.

I believe it’s a cheap Korean brand “Tradition” with serial # M405. Have no idea what is it.

here it is. I had to remove the rusty old string to return the neck to it original position.

Here it is cleaned up and unstrung.

Just another $1 CBG/Diddley Bow pickup. Part I.

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First of all. It’s not about most common well known piezo transducer. And well, I’m not sure that it’s not another “most common” thing.  But I was curious if it is possible to find the source for building a MAGNETIC pickup. Because all CBG fans know about the drawbacks of the DIY piezo pickups.

What is magnetic pickup consist of? Right, its a magnet and a a wire coiled around it. So I had to find: (1) a source for magnets and (2) a source of copper wire or (3) both. And of course the main goal is to get it FREE! It’s everyone’s favourite price, right?

Do you know anyone who works in the call center or some customer support department?  DSC_0086

If yes, then ask them what  they usually do with the broken headphones.

I’m sure that you can easily convince them to give it to you instead of just throwing away.




NEXT STEP: Crash them! But carefully. Inside each of two head sets you will find … Right, there’s a magnet with the copper coil around it.


It is covered with some sort of plastic membrane. I remove it. It serves to produce the actual sound in the earphone. We don’t need it.

Because if we leave it the pickup will act almost the same way as the piezo pickup: the membrane and not only the metal string itself will produce the waves which will be converted to the electrical signal.

Just trust me you will not be happy with the resulting sound.

Tip. When you cut off the membrane fix the coil around the magnet with scotch. Otherwise it will be easily displaced.

The fastest way to test the “earphone” pickup is to put it into didley bow.

We just need to solder the 1/4″  jack to the pickup and fix it on something.

So, you can see the “electric part” ready for installation on the following  image.



Stay tuned to know what came out of this experiment and if it was a success. The Part 2 with the  demo video  will be posted shortly.

Rockstand 7 guitar stand: a real space saver.

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Rockstand 7
It took me a couple of years to figure out what I’m missing in my basement.
The right guitar stand. Imagine you are practicing and want to switch the instrument? Right. You have to go to another corner to find the right bag, to open it, to get another guitar, to put the previous one back in place safely…

Well. And it took me another year to find the right solution.

Finally I did it! Rockstand 7 guitar stand!

And while I have already around 15 guitars (Strange, never can figure out how many exactly do I have) it’s more than enough to have 7 instruments right by your hand.Stupid, but I’m feeling happy. :)


P-Bass Cigar Box Guitar [2]


This is my second Cigar Box.
I call it P-Bass Cigar Box Guitar.
The First One was made few years ago. And all this time I was hoping to find some time for another better version.
P-Bass Cigar Box Guitar
This time I wanted to get real fat and nasty sound from it. So I decided to try the bass pickups. I even reproduced the electrical circuit of the Precision Bass. Well, with “Made in China” parts of course. :) And I have to admit: the sound is really fat. But not as “nasty” as it was expected.
No problem. I just need to play with distortion effects and it will work sooner or later.

Blood Red Telecaster Project: closer to the results.

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Finally I’ve got some time to describe how this “telecaster” guitar project is going so far.
I didn’t expect that everything will go smoothly.
Well and I was right!
Red Telecaster Clone Guitar
It is always a challenge when you are trying to put together some random parts from different projects. Which were just collecting the dust in your cabinets.
But from the other hand it’s a great learning experience. You have to find the solutions here and there what helps to boost your creativity.
And after all, I have said to myself: “OK. Let it be another Telecaster project. No matter if it ends up as a lovely instrument or just a nice wall decoration”.
You may track the progress of this project on the dedicated page:
“Blood Red” Telecaster Clone

The main challenges were the pickup cavities depth and the positioning the neck against the guitar body.
But please feel free to read the details on the page if you find it interesting.

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