How a cymbal is made

Founded in 1623 in Turkey and now based in Norwell, Massachusetts, Zildjian has manufactured cymbals continuously for almost 400 years. This is how they do it now.

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Review of the $150 CraftSynth 2.0 synthesizer

Reviewing the CraftSynth 2.0 for Engadget, Terrence O'Brien calls the small synthesizer "fun and a little bit flimsy."

It's strange to hold Modal Electronics' CraftSynth 2.0 in your hands knowing what's underneath the hood. It's unassuming, and frankly, it feels kinda flimsy. Once you plug it into a decent set of headphones or speakers, though, it comes alive. The fact that these sounds come out of something that weighs just 12.5 ounces when loaded with three double-A batteries is amazing.

Image: Modal Electronics Read the rest

Stylophone business card

Master maker Tim Jacobs created a fantastic business card that's actually a Stylophone synthesizer complete with MIDI capabilities. It's based on the original 1967 Dübreq Stylophone, a small synthesizer played by touching a built-in stylus to the metal keyboard. The Stylophone was famously used on David Bowie's "Space Oddity" and Kraftwerk's "Pocket Calculator."

From Jacobs' project page about his StyloCard that ended up costing a bit more than $3 each:

Printed Circuit Boards as a business card are a great gimmick. I'd seen ones with USB ports etched into them, which enumerate as a keyboard and then type a person's name or load up their website. It's just about possible to build them cheap enough to hand out as a business card, at least if you're picky about who you give them to.

A couple of years ago I took a stab at making one for myself, but I didn't want it to be pointless. I wanted it to do something useful! Or at least entertain someone for longer than a few seconds. I can't remember quite how I got the idea of making a MIDI-stylophone, but the idea was perfect. A working midi controller, that's unique enough in its playing characteristic to potentially give some value, while at the same time costing no more than the card would have done otherwise, since the keyboard is just a plated area on the PCB, as is true on the original stylophone.

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Tuba turned into a bathroom sink and tenor horns repurposed as urinals

Reddit user marc_urzz posted this photo of the fantastic sink in his step-uncle's bathroom. A little web searching then led me to the tenor horn urinals below. It would also be fun to use a trumpet as a shower head! What instrument would make a good toilet?

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THE BUREAU: Part Seven, "Lockdown in the Building, News of an Active Shooter Near the Cafeteria" — with Mr Quintron's Circuit-Bent Guitars

Welcome back to The Bureau. This week will be a holiday segment. Read the rest

THE BUREAU: Part Three, "Assessing Others" — with a Metasonix D-2000 Vacuum Tube Drum Machine

Your supervisor would like to speak with you today at 10:53am. Good thing you have a great tasting sandwich to deal with that unreasonable feedback.

A fantastically fun looper pedal cover of The Cure's "Close To Me"

I've been researching looper pedals for my 12-year-old guitarist son and happened upon this video of Mick Bishop using his Boss RC-300 Loop Station to create a very fun cover of "Close To Me," perhaps my favorite song by The Cure.

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Moog's new flagship polyphonic synthesizer

Moog is finally releasing a new polyphonic analog synthesizer, its first polyphonic model since production stopped on the Memorymoog in 1985, and a direct descendant of the iconic-yet-monophonic Minimoog Voyager released in 2002. Above is the only image released so far of the new Moog One. It's priced at $6000 for the 8 voice model and $8,000 for the 16-voice model. From Sweetwater:

Powered by a sound engine with the most advanced architecture ever conceived for a Moog synth, Moog One is available in 8- and 16-voice versions that can simultaneously articulate eight or 16 voices, depending on the configuration of your instrument. The Moog One tri-timbral architecture lets you easily assign, split, layer, and stack voices with up to 48 oscillators in Unison mode...

Clad in a handcrafted ash cabinet, the Moog One aluminum front panel is fitted with 73 knobs and 144 buttons, welcoming hands-on interaction with all the sound-sculpting and performance controls. Extended on-screen functionality is accessed via More buttons (one for each module) that serve up additional parameters in the center-panel LCD to deliver the most intuitive and efficient synthesis experience possible.

Via Moog Music, a couple fine uses of the prior Moog Polymoog Synthesizer released in 1975:

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Make your own 'bagpipes' with a garbage bag and recorders

Maybe you don't want to shell out a heap of cash for real bagpipes.

Or maybe you just want to make a trash-bag instrument.

Whatever the reason, I'm not here to judge you or what DIY projects you jury-rig in your spare time. Source your bag and recorder and head on over to this 2009 Instructables tutorial to learn how to make your own bagpipe-like device today. (Spoiler alert: It won't sound like a real set of bagpipes.)

Thanks, Don! Read the rest

Teenage Engineering introduces three new pocket synthesizers

Teenage Engineering, maker of the very cool OP-1 keyboard synthesizer, introduced three new pocket synthesizers.

With "PO-33, sample any sound source using line in or the built in microphone. Melodic mode lets you play chromatic melodies and drum mode lets you play drums. sequence it all and add effects on top.

Unique to "PO-32 Tonic [drum synthesizer and sequencer] is its wide range of sonic capabilities. Users can even use the standard desktop version of sonic charge microtonic to shape sounds, generate patches and pattern data, and have that transferred wirelessly back to the PO-32 tonic.

"PO-35 speak, vocal synthesizer and sequencer with built-in microphone for 8 different voice character sampling.

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This synthesizer for preschoolers looks like fun for all ages

Blipblox is a deceptively simple-looking toy that lets young kids experiment with sound design and music.

Presales start this spring, according to the description:

The Blipblox is a fully functional synthesizer beatbox that has been simplified and optimized so everyone, including children as young as 3 years old, can enjoy synthesizer audio exploration. This video will give you a taste of the wide range of fun sounds you can create on the Blipblox. Ships with a Learning Toolbox to help older kids (and adults with no synth experience) dig a little deeper.

My personal policy is never to give children's gifts that make any kind of noise, but if there's someone in your life with a high tolerance for kid-produced sounds, maybe their little creative person would enjoy this.

Here's another test drive at NAMM 2018:

Blipblox studio session (YouTube / Blipblox Explorer Channel) Read the rest

How to play Muddy Waters on a cigar box guitar

Shane Speal, the king of cigar box guitars, has a great tutorial on how to play Muddy Waters' music on a three-string guitar tuned to open-G.

Here's part 2:

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Enjoy the heavenly sounds of the glass armonica, invented by Benjamin Franklin

After seeing people make musical tones by rubbing their wet fingers around the rim of a wine glass, Benjamin Franklin invented the glass armonica in 1761. Today, there are very few glass armonica players. Chris Funk of the Decemberists went to visit one of them.

Dean Shostak is one of last true masters capable of playing the glass armonica – an enchanting instrument lost to time. First devised in 1761 by Benjamin Franklin, the art of “playing glass” began to fade in popularity as musical fashions changed. Today, there are only eight glass armonica players left in the world. Along with the revival of the armonica, Shostak is also reintroducing an entire family of glass instruments, including the glass violin, the crystal hand bells and the French Cristal baschet.

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Guitarist demonstrates beautiful tonal differences in "The Four Seasons" Guitars

Master luthier John Monteleone created a series of four archtop guitars, one for each season. Anthony Wilson of The Met shows how and why each sounds different than the others. Read the rest

Sesame Street: How a saxophone is made (1983)

Wonderful 1980 video of Sesame Street's visit to a saxophone factory, complete with a free jazz sax soundtrack. (via Laughing Squid)

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Guitarist takes an in-depth look at Nick Drake's unique tone

I'm not a guitar player (though I did take lessons in my youth), but I am a huge Nick Drake fan and have always been haunted by the very unique, dark, and moody guitar tones that he achieved. In this fascinating video by YouTube guitar teacher, Josh Turner, he presents and demonstrates his theory for how Nick got his signature sound.

Spoiler Alert: He identifies these four characteristics that he thinks are the most significant contributors:

1. Small-bodied guitar (probably) 2. "Dead" nickel strings 3. Medium-length fingernails, long thumbnail 4. Classical guitar-style hand position with bent wrist and thumb angle (and playing over the sound hole)

At the end of the video, to demonstrate the sound, he launches into the first part of Things Behind the Sun. It sounded so beautiful, it made my eyes want to roll back in my head. And made me immediately run to the original as soon Josh's video was over.

If you are also a fan of Drake's, you'll want to check out Remembered for a While, the the lovingly curated scrapbook of all things Nick that his sister, Gabrielle Drake (perhaps best known as the purple-haired Lt. Ellis on the cult-fave 70s British TV series, UFO) put together. Here's the review I wrote of it here on Boing Boing. Read the rest

Comparing a $100 bass to a $10,000 bass

In this video, UK-based YouTuber and bassist Davie504 plays a solo on a $100 bass, a $700 bass, and a TEN-THOUSAND-DOLLAR bass* to compare them. I watched the video five times and still can't hear that much of a difference. Admittedly, I'm not the best judge of these kinds of things.

*"Lindo" P-Bass ($100), Fender Jazz Bass ($700) and a Fodera Emperor Deluxe ($10,000)

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