919noise 4/6/2010 Stochasticaster debut

For the performance at the 919noise showcase, I built an instrument based on a cross between a guitar, a kalimba, and a spring reverb tank.

no name yet

I wanted a physical sounds source as opposed to something electronic or digital. In this case, magnetic pickups with strings resonating in them like a regular electric guitar. Long loose strings for reverb type sounds, short strings for kalimba like tones. 34 strings/tines in total, 5 single coil pickups, 5 bridges. String gauge range from .09 inch (typically the high E string on a guitar), all the way down to a .106 inch string (typically low E string on a bass guitar).

Bridges were the same style of electrical panel grounding bars as I used on the Kalimbazooka.

Unlike the Kalimbazooka, this used the more flexible electric guitar strings for the tines, which made it somewhat difficult to tune. The strings were very sensitive to the exposed length, which was difficult to get right. I got it mostly at tune at one point, but it drifted quickly, and I ended up forgetting about trying to tune it to a particular set of notes. Oh well, it makes cool noise.

Built it in a week or two. Not sure I learned to play it as well as I would like, but I wanted something new and interesting. I guess with this kind of thing, the main thing to figure out is how it interacts with the amps and feedback, which I thought I had figured out.

I played first after a couple minutes of soundcheck. One of the first problems I ran into was the buzz/hum. Lots of it. The type of pickups in it (single coils) have a tendency to buzz a bit, but in normal guitars, only one is on at a time. I had 5 of them. That plus some long wires, bad shielding on the cheap donor guitar, and I had a pretty loud buzz. Could be worse, it was a noise show at least. I’ve got some ideas on how to fix it though.

Adrian at nightlight

The high noise floor made it a little hard to use as much dynamics as I would have like. Quieter things got washed away in the noise. So less subtlety was called for.

Was nervous about it as usual, and rushed stuff. Not particularly a good habit for noise/ambient/drone, hopefully it works for me. Seemed to get a good response, and folks were curious and complimentary about the instrument.