Sunday, February 13, 2011

Some inspirations

For next time.....

Stay tuned for Phase II when we will try to figure out what we are going to amplify with this beast. Here is a hint for you.:

Phase I: Amplification

When I think of 60's music I think of cocky, swaggering, needlessly loud, noise! The idea here is to build some sort of musical machine. So, the first part of my "Gimme Shelter" project is some amplification.....
Now, ideally I would just find an old classic amplifier to use for my project, but I don't have that kind of budget. So, I decided to just build a replica. I found an old Fender guitar head on which was in need of some love. And then a built a cabinet to match it. This replica is designed to resemble the Fender Bassman / Showman amps from the mid 60's "blackface era." These were used by many major acts back in the day for both guitar and bass amplification. True classics!
The design work for the speaker cabinet was done using Rhinoceros CAD software, and the panels were cut out on the CNC router here at SDSU. I based the dimensions on the original 2x12" showman cabinet dimensions. However my cab was built to more modern specs for strength, and more importantly for lighter weight! Because I used thinner plywood rather than the original 3/4" pine planks I felt the need to add a bracing structure to the inside. Otherwise, the cabinet will appear vintage stock from the outside
After the cabinet carcass was assembled and the head stripped down I placed an order at These guys sell all the original bits and bobs for Fender vintage amps: corners, handles, jacks, knobs, etc. As well as Tolex (vinyl upholstery cloth) and grill cloth.

The first step in the upholstery process is to paint everything black. That way if the Tolex rips of tears through use the battle scars wont show too badly. Painting also seals the wood so that it won't soak up too much glue.
Then special contact cement is applied to both the substrate and the Tolex.....
When it is dry the Tolex is carefully stretched into place. Its not coming back off for a long time!
Once the speakers and other hardware pieces are installed its ready to roll. I took the amp out of the shop and let a guitarist friend of mine put it through its maiden voyage. Sounds pretty good! This piece is meant mainly as an art project, but it is nice to know it works :)

The finished product. Pretty convincing in my opinion.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Gimme Shelter

I've been thinking about the 1960's lately, specifically music from the era. I am interested in the roll that technology played in music production of the time. The 60's are disputably regarded as the golden age of recorded music. The sounds achieved by acts such as The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, etc. are still being pursued by musicians today.

The history of amplified rock & roll instrumentation (Guitar, Vocal, Bass Etc) stretches back well before this era. But, in the late 60's the technology was beginning to be mastered in new ways. Amplification, which was previously simply a way for acoustic music to be heard by larger and larger audiences, starts to take on a larger role in the composition of the music. And, a new cock-sureness and swagger is the result.

Through my next piece I hope to investigate 60's music / culture a bit. The technological aspect to this piece will be an important one. But also, I am interested in nostalgia for the era. Although the 1960's predates me by a couple of decades, I find myself drawn to the style and design of "implements" of the era. I'm using The Rolling Stones song "Gimme Shelter" (1969) as my jumping off point. Stay tuned, more to come shortly.....

Monday, February 7, 2011

A New Leaf

OK, so its been 9 months since I've posted something new to this blog. I've neglected you, poor reader, and for that I apologize. At any rate, get ready for an avalanche of new posts. This semester as a part of our Furniture Seminar course at SDSU we are being required to post something new on our blogs once a week. So here goes nothing.....