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AndySlatter Envato team says

I’ve always been interested in customizing instruments or making instruments from scratch, or adapting instruments in some way for recording purposes. I thought I’d list some of my experiments in this area, and I’d love to hear your techniques and ideas too.

1) When I was a teenager and before I was able to afford to buy a guitar I made sort of crude banjo from a wooden box, with a piece of formica covered chipboard for the (fretless) neck, a wooden bridge, screw in hooks for tuning pegs, and fishing line for strings. I can’t remember how I tuned it, but I remember playing crude ethnic/eastern/folky type little tunes on it. It can be interesting to make crude instruments like this for recording purposes and for sampling, they can be made to sound like real ethnic instruments.

2) I’ve converted several guitars and basses into fretless instruments (by carefully removing the frets, filling the gaps and sanding down). Fretless guitar is very interesting, you can use it for Sitar like eastern playing, it sounds better with dropped tunings using some of the strings as drones, and of course if you raise the action nice and high it makes an ideal guitar for slide playing.

3) Get a small rectangle of card or paper and weave it between the strings next to the bridge on a guitar, make sure the card/paper comes into contact with all the strings and dampens them, the resulting sound is very percussive and sounds a little like steel drums, ideal for tropical or African style sounds.

4) As above but use an opened out paper clip or a piece of wire, the resulting sound is similar to a Sitar.

5) You can achieve a ukelele sound on a nylon strung guitar by capoing high up the neck and only playing the top four strings ( Tim McMorris also mentions this on another thread).

6) You can achieve a mandolin type sound by capoing high up and playing only the top four sets of strings on a 12 string guitar tuned appropriately.

7) A childs guitar can easily be converted into a baritone ukelele by removing two tuning pegs and replacing the nut with a uke nut.

8)I tried to make a “Banjola” recently by attaching a 5 string banjo neck to an old mandolin body, the neck was tricky to fit, but after about four hours of woodwork I got it to fit perfectly, then as I stood up I knocked it off the table and the neck smashed in two…...but I’m sure it can be done!

I’m interested to hear any more ideas or techniques, fire ahead!

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Mihai_Sorohan says

Here’s a fresh idea:
The Ultimate MIDI controller (idiot friendly too)
Take a kazoo. Everybody can play it, it’s not really a instrument that require a specific technique, you just have to hum your song in it, right ?
So, you attach a piezo pickup and link to a processor that recognize audio and transform to midi (there are some guitar synths VST , free also, that do this job).
TA-DA !!! you have the notes already, but wait, there is more :grin: at the end of the kazoo you put a midi breath controller, so now you can have all the dynamics and whatever you assign to it.
Cool idea, isn’t it ?
So… from where do I pick the Nobel prize ? :sunglasses2:

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AndySlatter Envato team says

Here’s a fresh idea:
The Ultimate MIDI controller (idiot friendly too)
Take a kazoo. Everybody can play it, it’s not really a instrument that require a specific technique, you just have to hum your song in it, right ?
So, you attach a piezo pickup and link to a processor that recognize audio and transform to midi (there are some guitar synths VST , free also, that do this job).
TA-DA !!! you have the notes already, but wait, there is more :grin: at the end of the kazoo you put a midi breath controller, so now you can have all the dynamics and whatever you assign to it.
Cool idea, isn’t it ?
So… from where do I pick the Nobel prize ? :sunglasses2:

Hey, that is one cool idea!!

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garethcoker Envato team says

This man, who works for Spectrasonics and has his own room at Remote Control Studios (Hans Zimmer’s production house) is a sonic genius and a great inspiration to me.

http://www.diegostocco.com/

A good technique is to watch what this guy does and learn from it…...!!!!

Also do a Youtube search, and well…take your pick.

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=diego+stocco&aq=f

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BCrutchfield Envato team says

That guy is amazingly creative!

I’ve always wanted to get a hold of a few good mics and sample some stuff laying around the house for some of the stuff I work on, but I’d never in a million years think to write a piece of music on a bonsai tree! lol

His custom bass is pretty sick too.

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AndySlatter Envato team says

This man, who works for Spectrasonics and has his own room at Remote Control Studios (Hans Zimmer’s production house) is a sonic genius and a great inspiration to me.

http://www.diegostocco.com/

A good technique is to watch what this guy does and learn from it…...!!!!

Also do a Youtube search, and well…take your pick.

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=diego+stocco&aq=f

Inspiring stuff! Thanks for the link Gareth, that’s just up my street! :)

I really like the sounds he got from sand, I would imagine pitching these down and applying filter sweeps could sound amazing for textures and soundscapes.

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Mihai_Sorohan says

I have an old soviet mandolin. I have no idea how to tune it and how to play, so I tunned it like a guitar (first strings) and play :D
I don’t know if that counts as a customization or just a silly fix, but really, sounds like a mandolin and it’s easier to play (for me) like this.

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AndySlatter Envato team says

I have an old soviet mandolin. I have no idea how to tune it and how to play, so I tunned it like a guitar (first strings) and play :D
I don’t know if that counts as a customization or just a silly fix, but really, sounds like a mandolin and it’s easier to play (for me) like this.

Of course it counts! That’s a cool thing to do, there are no rules!

Check out this fretted electric violin….I want one!!!

http://coolmusicinstrument.com/wood-violins-electric-violins-violas-and-cellos-and-also-frets-if-you-want

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liambradbury says

I’ve been wanting to build my own recorder from scratch for a while. just for fun. I think the hard part would be getting the exact location of the holes so that when pressed they create the correct note (and in tune!).

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AndySlatter Envato team says

I’ve been wanting to build my own recorder from scratch for a while. just for fun. I think the hard part would be getting the exact location of the holes so that when pressed they create the correct note (and in tune!).

Though this link is about pvc flutes, you might be able to find some information here about hole placement: http://www.markshep.com/flute/Pipe.html

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