The Leviaphone

This instrument came about from a Eureka moment on my long and dull commute into work. It's to replace the failed Dronemachine I built for Christopher Campbell.
It uses Piano wire, the springs from an anglepoise lamp, the circular insides of an electric fan motor and a bunch of hardware to act as a DIY tuning machine. It has a hefty iron rod to act as a form of truss-rod to withstand the massive tensions that piano wire can create.
The results are surprising, massive, and quite fun!


Not all Dronemachines are created equal

As part of my commission for Christopher Campbell I created a fretted Dronemachine. It used circular washers, the shades from  desk lamps, my usual circular pickup from an electric fan, bits of shower rails and various bits and bobs.

The idea was nice and simple, the method of play was much like my other machines except that the washers acted like frets that you could shorten each wire with ease. In practise though, it proved very very difficult to build, and once the wooden base had warped slightly, it put all the frets out of place and messed up all my careful measurements!

I'm not one to hide the failures, if anything they're very good things to learn from... So here is the failure in all it's glory!

BUT, fear not, for I have come up with an even better sounding machine with which to replace this one with. Which is all very exciting.


Dronemachine MKIII

My latest commission is one of two Dronemachines for composer Christopher Campbell.
 It's made from 100% reclaimed materials. The Circular cog acts as an adjustable bridge that you can change the pitch of the strings by rotating it slightly. An unexpected result of the design was that when the bridge is turned, one half of the strings go up in pitch while the other half goes down! it sounds like this:

The second machine will be ready shortly which has a slightly different playing mechanism! Be sure to check out Chris' label Innova Recordings


The sweet spot tool.

I have 2 commissions coming to a close in the next few weeks, but in the meantime I'd like to share with you this tool I created.
Now the maths and physics behind surface resonance and bridge placement in instruments is complicated. Especially if your instruments are a but special, like mine. That's why I came up with this simple tool for finding the sweet spot!
It's simply a piano tuning pin (which I can sell you!) and a little bolt for an anchor. It works thusly:



An Almost Shop

I often have far more bits of things in stock than I could ever possibly use, which is why I've decided to sell them on to you good readers.
I don't have the time to set up a proper shop at the moment, so I will simply be updating THIS PAGE with what I have and how much I'd be willing to part with them for. I intend to add quite a variety of unusual/hard to track down bits and pieces that would be helpful for odd instrument makers like myself!
Also on the page I've added a few rough commission prices for the most commonly asked about instruments, so have a gander at those too.


The Actuatolin

This is an instrument made from an old heating valve Actuator casing, a strip of wood and a bunch of Piano Tuning pins. There's not much more to say about it!

I've been a bit slack with the Blog lately, I've got tons of JUSTABOUT finished projects coming up though. If you're interested in what I do, the best way to stay up to date is with Thee Twitters


Instructable on the Tennis Racketar

I've finally made a how-to on the Tennis Racketar that I made all those years ago, I've put it all up on Instructables for your viewing/learning pleasures.
 I did another video too, although the playing skills are really no different!


How-To: The 5 minute tunable 1-stringed instrument

This is a quick how-to on how to build yourself the easiest/quickest tunable stringed instrument in the world out of bits you probably have lying around your house.

The wire I used was from the inside of a washing line, however you can use a plethora of other types of wire/fishing line/old guitar strings etc.

The button is used to prevent the plastic lid from splitting, you can use buttons, or a nail, toothpicks, a pencil. Anything that will spread the tension of the wire so that the soft plastic doesn't rip/tear.
If you or your kids or your class end up making one of these, I'd love to see the results!


I used to play music too...

Back in 2007, before I got interested in making instruments, I did a little solo set with a loop station and a few different instruments of my own. 

 Looking back now, it's pretty bad! but it exists, so I may as well share it.



Pallet Wood Headphones

Recently my headphones broke, so naturally I had to make some more from scrap wood, nuts and bolts and the bits that were still working.


They've come out quite nicely!