Reclaimed, Recycled and Scavenged Musical instruments and Noise makers.



The Hummingbird @ the Tate Modern

One of my newest creations that I developed at my time at machinesroom is The Hummingbird. It's a twitter - controlled instrument that I recently showcased at the Tate modern as part of the Turbine Festival.

It consists of a series of 8 motors that play 2 strings each in a randomised sequence. The motors were from old tape players and the strings from bike brake cable.

Every time I get sent a tweet, the sequence changes! So a brand new, completely unique melody is generated.

It uses a raspberry pi for its brains which controls the on/off signals to a bank of 8 small relays.

It was incredibly loud during the festival so was very hard to hear it being played. A few videos were taken of it in action though:

I owe a MASSIVE thanks to Tim Yates and Saif Bunni of Hackoustic for the invite and the help!



Things have been pretty busy over here lately, so first i'll let you know what's coming up, then I'll let you know how amazing the past few weeks have been!

First up, I've been invited by the Acoustic Hack group of the London hackspace to join them at THE TATE MODERN on the 25th as part of the turbine hall festival! 

It is a massive honour and the day looks to be one of the most fun days you could possibly have, ever. More details are here: http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/performance-and-music/hackoustic

Secondly, I have my next scrap instrument building workshop at Machinesroom set for August 1st, half the tickets have gone already so catch them fast if you'd like to come! Tickets are here: http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/introduction-to-scrap-instrument-making-with-vulpestruments-tickets-17653195182?aff=es2

Last weekend was Childwickbury Arts fair. Which was an amazing and busy weekend full of some very incredible artists. Thank you to everyone who came and chatted and played the instruments and took a business card! I'm going to prepare some stock for the christmas market later in the year and see if they'll have me back!

Also recently, was my residency at machinesroom, which was not only super-fun but reeeaaalllly inspiring to see the potential of what their machines can produce. I've come up with a prototype instrument that uses a single sheet of plywood on the laser cutter. So once that's finished i'll post the results here!


Dronitar for Glen

My latest commission was this Dronitar for artist Glen Tomney.

The neck is made from a piano lid rest while the body is plywood with a few layers of Shellac ontop. It uses miscellaneous hardware in place of nuts, bridges and saddles etc.
The pickup is simply a coil from a small power transformer with a neodymium magnet glued down.

Upcoming events, of which there are many.

I have a ton of events coming up, all of which I will add to the events tab on the right hand side over there -->

First up is my workshop at Machinesroom, 'An introduction to scrap instrument building'. It is currently sold-out which means I'll have to organise another one for soonly afterwards!

Machinesroom have also amazingly and kindly invited me to be their Artist-in-residence for the month of June! SO I will have a bunch of my creations on display in their space and I will be using their machines to create something special too.

I have a gig in Watford at the LP cafe on June 6th, details here: http://www.silenciosessions.com/

I have also been asked to play in an Art Gallery by Sonica.fm on Saturday 13th of June, I will post more details of that when I know more but it will be during the day.

And finally, for now, I will also be one of the artists selling/demonstrating my work at this years Childwickbury Arts Fair. It's an incredible event set up and run by Christiane Kubrick. Yes, Kubrick... It's a really incredible event that I've been to before and am really really excited to be there this year.


The Lyre of Doom

My latest commission is a droney Lyre-type instrument made from a chair leg, washing line, miscellaneous hardware. The motor part can be attached to a modified desk lamp neck for handsfree-play.

It uses 2 piezo pickups and also a speaker as a pickup. They're all wired into seperate pots so you can control the volume from each one.


Gig tomorrow night!

I will be playing a gig as part of the Gwaith Sŵn Collective tomorrow evening at Limewharf as part of the Sonica FM residency!

Event details here:

expect noises akin to this:


Monster Dronemachine

One of my latest commissions was this monstrous Dronemachine. It's an unpredictable demonbag of noises, timbres, resonances and textures.


The Bookitar

When I got the confirmation that I would be at The Great Home Hack, I realised I should probably create something a bit more 'crafty' to fit in with the Upcycling theme.

So, I came up with The Bookitar:


Luke Gottelier's Painting guitar

I've found myself recently in a really fun new role of consulting on instrument building for various people. Recently, I helped Luke Gottelier turn one of his old paintings into a working guitar for an exhibition here in London.

From the Press release:
Luke Gottelier will be responding to the DOLPH brief by moving into the space for the month and adding to his ongoing ‘Home Improvement’ series. This involves torturing and re-utilizing a group of failed paintings from 2004-2005. So far he has made a painting into a remote control car, an ashtray, a postcard, an electric guitar and a candlestick. Temporarily relocating his studio to Streatham and surrounding himself with the books, music and resources that inspire, Gottelier will aim to make sense of the upheaval by producing a piece of work that explores his predicament.

For more info on the exhibition check the gallery's website here:


Results from the Scrapitar workshop!

Last Saturday was the inaugural instrument building workshop at the wonderful Machinesroom in Limewharf.

I learnt a lot from running it and hopefully the participants did too, each person made a completely different instrument to everyone else.

We spent the day and turned this:

Into these:

I also consulted on and helped figure out ways to turn this painting from artist Luke Gottelier into a working guitar for an upcoming exhibition. I'll post more on that in a bit!

Death of Narrative (and Happy Birthdays)

A good friend of mine and collaborator Ryan Cockerham is performing an amazing piece with his comrade Er-Gene Kahng on the 27th of this month at The Great Hall, Crystal Bridges Museum in Arkansas.  

The piece, "Music on a Long-Thin Wire" by Alvin Lucier, uses a long-string instrument which I gave technical support and theory explanation of for it's creation. 

I wish I could be there to see the performance, if you happen to be in the area yourself please go! 

More details are here:

The Great Home Hack

Here are a few photos from The Great Home Hack, it was a fun and cold weekend, met lots of interesting people and didn't lose my voice explaining myself!  


Fret Placement Tutorial

I get asked quite often about how I figure out where to put the frets on my instruments. Building proper guitars takes incredibly precise measurements, the length of the neck and the height of the nut and all sorts of different factors go into measuring the exact placement of guitar frets.

My stuff tends to be much harder to accurately measure distances and figure out heights and how much a neck will bend under tension. So, over the years, I've realised that the best way to do it with oddball instruments like mine, is thusly:

Frets are the last thing I do to my instruments. 

I string them up, tune them, leave them for a day or two and tune them again. Sometimes the strings need to stretch out a bit or the neck needs to settle down for the winter, so it's good to take your time at that bit.

The next step is to take whatever you're using for your frets (I tend to favour round nails at the moment) and to simply plug in your tuner and go up and down your neck with your loose fret on the neckboard, pushing the strings against it until you hit an in-tune place. Mark it with a pencil and keep going up until you hit the next note.

The video should clarify what I mean if that doesn't make sense.

Be patient and slow while trying to find the right spot, my tuner is good but often gets confused and jumpy. Also, it REALLY helps if your nut and bridge are exactly 90 degrees to the neck, this way your frets will be more consistent if they're all at 90 degrees also.

If you want to do the measurement methods, the best calculator I've found has been here: http://www.manchesterguitartech.co.uk/fret-and-nut-calculators/


Instrument building workshop!

I've been having some fun meetings over at Machines Room, in Limewharf about running some workshops with their scrap materials. And I'm happy to announce the first (hopefully of many) workshop will be on March 21st!

"During this 4-hr workshop you will learn how to build your own 3-stringed, fretted instrument from scratch, from scraps! With the application of very basic woodwork and a simple bit of electronics take home your very own, SCRAPITAR. Suitable for 12 years and up (under-16s must be accompanied by an adult)."

Tickets are limited and available here: