Guitar Body. Laminating and shaping

So here are the latest pictures of the work in progress. Some compromises and changes have been made to the original design. I have started shaping the neck and hope to cut the head stock tomorrow.

Because I chose the ‘Strat’ style body from the kit company, I have given myself some extra shaping problems. The Stratocaster is a very contoured body, so when I sliced off the top to add the extra width for the twelve string neck, I needed to contour the new section of wood into the original body shape. This presented some challenge but I think its turned out well. As you can see from the pictures it is not the first design I conceived for this guitar. In the video below, you can see the original design concept and how it was going to make the instrument too top heavy. I have decided to go for the ‘two neck’ style, a’ la Jimmy Page and many others. My second neck is moving towards the harp theme. The strings are mainly there to be played open. I envisage an open chord/arpeggio being played on the twelve string harp section, which I will ‘loop’ and then play over, on the normal guitar neck.

The last image is a a look at some of the contouring I had to do on the back of the body. The next step is the neck. The joining of the head stock to the neck will be an interesting challenge to my wood working abilities!




Guitar Project DAY01

So here is the notional design I have decided on for the “harp/guitar” self build project. It will be constructed on the kit body (on right). This is not to scale but once the kit guitar body arrives I can make measurements and start cutting the wood for the “Harp” section that I am adding. I think I will go for lamination of the two sections using dowels. I had thought I might join the wood together with splines in the shape of music notation, but I want to stain the wood then clear varnish it, so I think splines would distract from the final design, (and they would be difficult and I might feck it up!).



I would never try to build an acoustic instrument, as I have no pretensions of being a Luthier. I bought the cheep kit guitar so that I would have a ready made neck, because while I could build an electric guitar body shaping a neck would be beyond my woodworking abilities!

I have these pickups to put into the “Harp” section, (it will be twelve strings, so a blog about tuning decisions will pop up in the near future). I cant decide weather to wire these pickups into the existing jack on the kit guitar I am buying, or have a separate jack for the “harp” section, so that if the sound is really poor, I can at least route it to the ADC  and use the computer to ‘enhance’ the sounds I get. A MIDI interface for the “harp” section is also an appealing Idea.


Any opinions….let me Know.

I built this Harp last year, for a performance called, “Shape Shifter”. It was a bit of a bodge job because the wood was of poor quality, and I didn’t really consider the tuning in any deep way. It worked great, but hasn’t lasted the test of time. The plus side is that I have twelve machine heads for this new project!



The project is inspired by this kind of instrument.

New Ibanez on its way

Just bought this guitar. Should arrive to me shortly. Some musicians have told me I’m crazy buying a guitar online. “How do you know if you’ll really like the weight and balance, the tone, the feel of the neck?…..” Well, I wouldn’t buy a guitar I hadn’t played. I have played this exact model and I loved it. Yes, all guitars will be different, but after 30 years playing I can say with utter certainty that you never know an instrument immediately. They all have to grow on you, you have to , “grow into” them, over time. Just because you played a guitar in a shop for twenty minutes, doesn’t mean you have any more insight into the instrument than buying online. You have to take it home. What I’m saying is that all instrument purchases are a shot in the dark.


This is a mid price range model for an Ibanez. My other pet hate is the concept that if a guitar costs 5000 euro, or dollars, that you will play better, or it will sound better than one half the price. Guitar prices are a bit like wine prices. You can by a 50 euro/dollar bottle of wine…but it won’t taste 40 euros better than a 10 euro wine. A good deal of the extra costs in these things is snobbery. This guitar has beautiful wood, a respected name, top of the range pickups, expensive metalwork in the bridge and machine heads, so its materials are top of the range. It just doesn’t have a famous guitarists name stuck to it, and it isn’t a “vintage” remake/copy/classic. Which are the things you pay all the extra money for.

I’ll blog a bit about how I get on with it. It is being purchased for a new business and performance venture, (details to follow).

The other purchases were a DeMarzio pickup for my old Artcore, Ibanez semi Acoustic. I wanted a warmer and more powerful, fuller tone n the neck pickup, so I will be blogging about fitting that to my other main guitar.

And finally………I have purchesed a kit guitar for sixy euro. The plan is to use this basic set to build a custom guitar, which will include an extra twelve string harp/drone/zither thing section for freaky looping accompaniment to the six string bit. Designs and initial project plans in next post.




I have been furiously writing music all this month, some conventional, others pieces …not so conventional.    Here are a couple of examples of a more freestyle approach I have been taking.  Click the images to see a pdf.


This first one is entitled “Celebration fanfare to the Quick death of Computer Music (for assorted Brass and Percussion).”

Only an imaginative human mind could interpret this with any cohesion. I was thinking of all those guys like Xanakis and Schaeffer, and I was reaching for something that might punch them, and their cul de sac, music theories  in the face. Excuse the aggression….but I wasted a good deal of time studying those twits.

The second one (below), I note also hopes for a “Slow painful death for music theorists.” My god this anger and aggression is shocking me…but its how I feel. This is also a percussion piece, and perhaps, watching the video below might explain where I was coming from in terms of music theory, although the piece is an analysis of theories in rhythm…..and how they don’t really make any sense. Especially the idea that music is somehow just mathematics.



Another Gig

I think I feel another performance coming on. That will give my gigs the regularity of about once a year! I think I will get a couple of other musicians to do this one with me, and definately get someone to play sound engineer. The gig last October in Kilkishen was just too much work for one person on the stage, (me) doing VJ ing and music performance.

Below is the promotional video from last year. I made an electronic harp, a drum machine and a slide guitar for that show. I think I want to concentrate more on the music this year, (hence more musicians) and make the light and video show just the backdrop, rather than the central focus of the show. I will definately NOT be doing any motion tracking with the Kinect this time…….but I will be doing some freaky electronic stuff with the sound and visuals……sure it all has to connect up to make a good performance!!


MAX and Jitter

Something more happens when you make sounds with an electrical musical instrument. The analogue signal can be digitised and then, once its just numbers, those numbers can be used to do anything. Here I am manipulating video matrices again with “JITTER” in MAX.

There are some great objects in the “Jitter” library for splitting up and augmenting the colours and generally filtering the shit out of video matrices, in real time. I have tried to take things a step further and wrap the matrices onto GL objects and manipulate the objects shapes and movement with the sound signals. The physics environment is where the OpenGL shapes float around.


No More Switches


It has occurred to me that what is often defined as a musical instrument, in this day and age, is often just an electronic “switch” for turning on and off pre – built  loops of audio.

This is not an evil in any way, but my concern is that people are becoming less able to be expressive in the moment. There is no chance to change the emphasis or phrasing in musical performance if all you are doing is turning on and off previously collected or recorded sound samples……NO Matter how amazing they sound, or what “really cool” electronic jiggery pokery was used to create them.

I love using electronics and computers in the making of music, but I believe you need and initial “expressive” Acoustically based instrument to make some REAL sound, before all the augmentation inside a computer is worth a shit.

Here is a little video rant on the subject