BillyRadd Music

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Let the Dancing Begin

Sometimes I just go with the flow and do what I think about with not too much prep. This album was created using my theory of life being an experiment in finding out what works. Not over-thinking and just getting into the groove of the moment seemed more important with this collection of electronic musings. Best listened to with headphones, I hope to build on my quest in helping to forward world peace and human understanding through etherial groves and effects. And, to have some fun. The world need more of that, too.
I used a Moog Sub Phatty, Animoog App, Yamaha Tenori-On (TNR-I) App, Korg Monotron, Stylophone, Soundtrack Pro, and Logic Pro 9.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The String Section

From right to left:
- Kala Solid Swamp Ash California Ubass
- Fender Acoustic Electric Dreadnaught Guitar
- Cigar Box Electric Guitar built by Milton Cable
- 4-string Kodacaster Duo Humbucker Canjo*
- Gibson SG Special Bass
- Fender Telecaster Custom Guitar
- 4 string Utah License Plate Electric Guitar*
- '64 Fender DuoSonic Guitar
- 3-string Kodacaster 4 Electric Canjo *

In Front:
- Kala Concert Ukulele

*instrument built by me

Friday, July 4, 2014

Electric Kalimba Upgrade

Beefed Up Electric Padron Kalimba

Last year I gave my wife, Anita Gayle, a birthday present of a cigarbox kalimba that I made from a Padron cigar box. Originally the kalimba was equipped with a piezo disc pickup and volume control so that it could be amplified through a combo speaker/amp. It worked just OK since the tone from the kalimba was kind of muffled, produced a slight hum, and needed to be boosted with an additional preamp, an attempted fix that really was not that satisfactory. Since piezo pickups work by picking up vibrations, they will also pickup any vibration that might be made through incidental handling and movement, not just the musical sound of the instrument it is attached to. So, piezos are a bit touchy and also prone to feedback when used at higher amplified volumes.

After a few weeks of thinking about it, I thought, since the tines that produce the vibration are likely made of ferrous metal (steel), why couldn't I replace the piezo pup with a humbucker which would likely increase the volume able to be produced and get rid of the hum. 

I consulted with my goto humbucker supplier, Elmar Zeilhofer in Vienna, Austria. He thought my idea might work but told me that another client had tried to amplify his kalimba with one of Elmar's Flatpup Humbuckers and was not satisfied with it because it sounded too "thumpy". But, I reasoned, "thumpy" would be a great way to describe the tone that naturally emanates from a kalimba when it is not amplified or when played acoustically without any amplification. "Thumpy" makes a kilimba sound like a kalimba.

I measured Anita Gayle's Kalimba so I could order the right size flatpups, determined that the the metal tines were, indeed, made of ferrous metal (able to be picked up by a humbucker pickup) with the never-fail magnet test.

So, I ordered two of Elmar's 6-string Flatpup Humbuckers, installed them on the Pedron Cigarbox Kalimba, wired it up and, jeez, what a difference in the sound. The replacement of the piezo pickup really makes a big improvement in the strength of the signal to the amplifier AND reproduces a wider range of tone, too. Anita plays it a lot more, too.

Worth all the effort and expense. An electric kalimba cranked up to 11 with just a touch a reverb is a "bootiful thang".