BillyRadd Music

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Kodakaster Is Born

My version of the venerable Kodakaster 3-string Film Canjo.

I've moved my dozen or so collection of film cans with me from being a film student, working for various employers, and finally with my own film production company because I figured that I'd find a use for them someday.

And, that day came last week when I received a pretty cherry wood cigar-box-guitar neck, and assorted tuners and other hardware that I bought online from Cigar Box Nation and C.B Gitty Crafter Supply.

Picking the appropriate can from my small collection was easier than I thought since one can had the original laboratory label identifying it as having held the negatives from a documentary Anita and I shot about a metal sculptor, the late John Fred Prazen of Salt Lake City, in the early 1970's. I wanted to keep my first attempt at canjo building, so the one that had held Fred's film had the most history with me since he was such a good guy. So, I built the Kodakaster with Fred's can.

I finished the cherry neck with poly urethane, attached the hardware and can, and I even installed a resonator inside the film can in the form of a 16mm 400ft roll can attached to the back. This addition does seem to have a real effect on the tone of the canjo which, as you might expect from the shape and materials, sounds like a cross between a banjo and a dobro.

I slapped on some old strings this afternoon, tuned it to DAd, donned my glass finger slide and dug right in.  Well, so far it sounds pretty good, but you'll have to give me a few days before I'll release any recording using the 3-string Kodakaster.

I'll probably attach a piezo pup soon too, to see how it sounds amplified.  Or maybe I'll point a mic at it and see how it sounds recorded acoustically. (to listen to recording click here)

It's pretty lightweight but seems rugged enough.  Besides, with this kind of home-made instrument, nicks and scruffs add to the patina, right?

I like it. I guess I'll keep it. And, I do have five more film cans . . . hummmm . . . 

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