Archive for Audiophile

Making a Lagerphone

Posted in Carpentry, Design, Free, Gadgets, Home Studio, Humor, Lifestyle, Music with tags , , on 03/15/2016 by Baghead Kelly

 

I’d always harboured a desire to make a lagerphone and finally I’ve ticked it off of my bucket list. A lagerphone is essentially a tambourine type of instrument made from a broomstick and crown capped bottle tops. From the Idiophone family it is mainly used in folk music and is known by many names from many different cultures.

The first task was collecting the bottle tops, which required much merriment and the sampling of various types of lager which had different coloured bottle tops. I was clearly the right man for the job.

Another pre-requisite was my penchant for hoarding. During renovations I kept one of our old curtain rods, which was about an inch and a quarter diameter (32mm). It also featured a finial which with a nose added became the ‘Noddy’ head. In my research I discovered that it was commonplace to place a boot at the bottom to protect a venues flooring. It so happened that I’d kept one of my fifteen year old’s boots from when he was a toddler. Actually we kept all of them.

The next stage was punching holes in the bottle tops. For this task I used an off-cut from one of our veranda posts, which I had drawn diagonal lines from corner to corner and drilled a 5/16” (8mm) hole in the centre where the lines bisected. With a nail punch I could then line my bottle top up over the hole using the diagonal lines and with one tap I could punch a hole in the centre. The jig worked quite well although I had to manually pull off the bit off metal still left hanging.

Next I space out where I wanted the bottle tops which was basically a north/south/east/west pattern. I carefully drilled them and bought some screws with a clean shank to affix each set of twin bottle tops.

Additionally I placed a mint tin containing ball bearings into the boot which was simply screwed to the curtain rod between the tread of the boot. I used a bit of plumbing pipe insulation for the handle and the sock of the boot. Also on the large beer can at the top I placed a nut suspended from a bit of wire to act as a clapper.

I thoroughly enjoyed the process and the thought of terrorising my clan gatherings with my new lagerphone fills me with wicked glee. So if your interested in making a lagerphone here are a few name variations to Google as the various designs are as different and wild as your imagination.

a.k.a.

  • Boozaphone,
  • Mendoza/mendozer,
  • Monkey stick,
  • Murrumbidgee River Rattler
  • Teufelsgeige
  • Jingling Johnie
  • Stumpfidel
  • Ugly Stick

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The Return Of Vinyl Records

Posted in Gadgets, Lifestyle, Music with tags , , , on 06/03/2013 by Baghead Kelly

Vinyl blog

My grandfather gave me a reel to reel tape recorder when I was around eight or nine years old. It wasn’t one of those fancy home studio kind of arrangements it was small and had little three inch reels that you would have to thread through like a sewing machine. I loved it to death and I would listen to the radio and try and record songs without the DJ talking over the top. That tape player was the beginning of my lifelong love of music and general musical geekery.

I also had a little portable record player with a speaker in the lid that I would play my 45rpm records on. Later on my father got a real stereo and I started collecting 33rpm records. The records were appealing not only because of the music but also for the artwork and literature displayed on their covers. They were tactile objet d’art that you could read whilst you listened to the record itself.

Alas records gave way to CD’s and the digital revolution. Digital laser technology promised an end to the snap, crackle and pop of vinyl records. It promised a purer sound experience and I fell for it hook line and sinker. I was an early adopter and when I bought my Phillips player there was only a choice of 10 CD’s to choose from. I still am a true believer in CD’s but in the department of album art they were a retrograde step. The second evolution of the digital age the MP3/Wav era has reduced album art to a mere thumbnail.

Lately I have realised that something was missing in my audiophile world. I missed records. I missed the albums and I missed marvelling at the wonderful engineering of a good record player. It was like the difference between having a solitary cuppa with a tea bag and the ritual of sharing a pot of tea with good friends.

This whole mid life crisis event came about when a record store opened in a nearby town. In an earlier life I had harboured a desire to open a record store in that very same town but wisely declined when another one went bust nearby. So with a vested interest I watched closely as the little record store prospered and eventually I was seduced back into the allure of all things vinyl. I went and purchased a turntable and once a week I trot off down to our new record store and buy an album. It has become my Saturday night highlight.

The little record store owner and I have developed a friendly rapport but I have noticed that the price of Jimi Hendrix records have increased now that I have been identified as a fan. I think the proprietor sees me as a new revenue stream. Not to be deterred I have widened my net and discovered a whole new underground of vinyl enthusiasts that I didn’t know existed. Although not a purist I am looking forward to my first vinyl fair to hopefully track down some old favourites. It’s the thrill of the hunt especially when I find a gem from my old record collection. You see there certainly is an element of nostalgia not only in the process of playing records but also because I am essentially recreating my old record collection. One that I foolishly gave away many years ago. This time around though I am being very selective of which records are worthy of my collection because I believe that playing music on a record player is special. Like bringing out the fine china. These days I even like the snap crackle and pop.

Stand Alone Performance

Posted in Music, Songwriting with tags , , , on 03/27/2012 by Baghead Kelly

A stand alone performance to me is the ultimate test of talent. A musician accompanying themselves, is really a special benchmark because they hold their own hand. I’m not talking about hacks like myself, I’m talking about the demi gods of music. I actively seek out these recordings; I pour over box sets and anthologies and when I occasionally stumble upon these gems, I wet my pants a little bit. Partly I like these performances because they reveal musical secrets but mostly because I am in awe of their genius. These recordings don’t have to be perfect recordings, in fact I like the rough diamonds just as much.

When you think about ***Robert Johnson’s catalogue of tunes; it was just him and his guitar. 29 tunes recorded 76 years ago. Today I can go into my local record shop and ‘The Complete Recordings’ will be there somewhere on the shelves and I’m a long, long way from Texas Toto. Somehow he put something very special down on tape. That kind of magic is rare but not unachievable.

Jimi Hendrix sitting on a stool with a borrowed 12 string playing “Hear My Train A Comin’” is just as magical and fortunately that was caught on film as well. In that little three minute window Jimi gifts us the key to where he had come from, musically and spiritually. Dissect it and you can see Voodoo Child (Slight Return) hidden inside those notes and plenty more besides. A similar pearl (hehe) is Janis Joplin pairing up with Jorma Kaukonen to render “Trouble In Mind” on the “Typewriter Tape”. It wasn’t stand alone but the talent and the soul is breath taking.

In the eighties there was “The Secret Policeman’s Ball” series which unearthed terrific acoustic versions of Pete Townshend’s “Pinball Wizard” and Sting’s “Roxanne”. In aid of Amnesty International, the benefits ushered in the era of “Unplugged” recordings which in itself brought with it a swag of brilliant stand alone recordings. The “Eric Clapton Unplugged” was wildly popular and probably helped fund his “Crossroad” festivals.

Then there was “The Beatles Anthology” which not only offered intimate insights into some of their extensive catalogue but also triggered the release of other box sets and anthologies.

Stevie Ray Vaughan’s rendering of Doyle Bramhall’s “Life By The Drop” is another favourite and when you hear Bramhall’s version you can hear where Stevie drew his singing and phrasing style.

At this point you probably think I’m a ‘white boy lost in the blues’ and you would be right but I most certainly try to be a contemporary man, at least on occasions. The advent of Youtube has unearthed a wealth of stand alone talent. Too numerous to mention really but it is the way of the future and I am still trying to work my way up to the present.

If you know of any of these solo flashes of genius, I would love to hear them or check them out.

***(incidentally my post on ‘Love In Vain’ featured a fake picture of Robert Johnson. There are only two known photo’s of the man and that wasn’t one of them…hehehe).