A sound designer decides to build an electric baritone lap steel out of discarded timber and leftover guitar parts.
Name: Paul RidoutLocation: Falmouth, Cornwall, United Kingdom
Guitar: Scrap Steel
I’ve spent almost a lifetime failing to play an instrument, and the guitar has mainly been my unfortunate target, despite spending most of the ’80s and early ’90s earning my crust as a synth programmer (sound designer in modern parlance). However, I’ve enjoyed building “sound-producing things.” At art college in the ’60s, I adapted various junk-shop acoustic guitars after reading about old bluesmen using 9-strings. Adding extra machine heads and experimenting with string combinations (octave pairs on the bottom three or unison pairs on the top) and string heights. Lap steel and an open tuning seemed, incorrectly, to be a possible direction for an incapable guitarist.
My interest in attempting to play waned until recently, when I discovered an article on the joys of building a lap steel from a scrap 2x4. Before I knew it, the world of self-build and all its variants had rekindled my desire. I wasn’t alone: There were other seemingly crazy individuals out there hacking all manner of unlikely objects into strange and beautiful instruments.
I decided to try my hand at a “scrap steel,” which led to a collection of adapted instruments, including 1/2- and 3/4-size electric “strats” converted to electric baritone ukulele and tenor guitars. One special conversion is a Washburn (Oscar Schmidt) steel-strung kid’s acoustic revamped as an electro-acoustic baritone ukulele with under-saddle and soundhole pickups wired to a stereo jack to give two separately controllable outputs.
During all of this, I was intrigued by the concept of an electric baritone lap steel, given that most of my creations lacked any bottom. Through research, I found such a thing didn’t exist commercially. So, I set about building one from scrap timbers and various electrical bits that were left over from earlier experiments. Some timber from a demolition dumpster, a Telecaster pickup switch, a Fender bass bridge cover, some leftover white-pearl scratchplate, a B.C. Rich humbucker, and a generic single-coil were just about all I needed. Tuned A–E–A–E–A–C# with a 27"-scale, she makes a wonderful racket. Needless to say, I still can’t play (solo or with others), but I do enjoy my noise.
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Created in collaboration with legendary guitarist George Lynch of Dokken and Lynch Mob fame, the Mr.Scary Mod adds an adjustable tube gain stage and an onboard Deep control, which together are designed to enable an amp to have increased sustain while still retaining note definition and dynamics.
LegendaryTones, LLC today announced production availability of its new Mr. Scary Mod, a 100% pure tube module designed to instantly and easily expand the capabilities of many classic amplifiers with additional gain and tone shaping. Created in collaboration with legendary guitarist George Lynch of Dokken and Lynch Mob fame, the Mr.Scary Mod adds an adjustable tube gain stage and an onboard Deep control, which together are designed to enable an amp to have increased sustain while still retaining note definition and dynamics.
Originally released as the Lynch Mod in February 2021, the updated Mr. Scary Mod features the same core circuit as the Lynch Mod but is now equipped with a revised tube mix combo per George’s preference as well as a facelift in a newly redesigned electro-galvanized steel enclosure. As with the Lynch Mod, each run will be limited and the first run in Pumpkin Orange with Black hardware is limited to just 150 pieces worldwide.
The Mr. Scary Mod adds an adjustable tube gain stage on top of the cathode follower position, keeping note definition and articulation while further increasing sustain. Each Mr. Scary mod is meticulously built by hand in the USA, one at a time, and tuned using high-grade components. Equipped with a single ECC81 (12AT7) in the first position and ECC83 (12AX7) in the second, the Mr. Scary Mod can clean up beautifully when rolling down your guitar’s volume, and still adds scorching gain when you roll it back up. This is a gain stage that’s been tuned and approved by the ears of the maestro George Lynch himself.
“The Mr. Scary Mod excels with dynamics and is incredibly touch-responsive, allowing me to shift from playing clear, lightly compressed cleans to full-out aggressive sustain and distortion –and control it all simply by varying my guitar’s volume control and picking,” said GeorgeLynch. “In many ways, it’s an old-school approach, but it’s also so much more natural and expressive in addition to being musically fulfilling when you can play both the guitar and amp dynamically together this way.”
The Mr. Scary Mod installs in minutes, is safe and effective to use, and requires no special tools or re-biasing of the amplifier. Simply insert the module into the cathode follower preamp position of compatible amplifiers (includes Marshall 2203/2204/1959/1987 circuits) and
immediately get the benefit of enjoying a hot-rodded amp that delivers all the pure harmonic character that comes with an added pure tube gain stage. The handmade in the USA Mr. Scary Mod is now available to order for $319.
For more information, please visit legendarytones.com.
October Audio has miniaturized their NVMBR Gain pedal to create two mini versions of this beautifully organic-sounding circuit – including an always-on gain device.
The NVMBR Gain is a nonlinear amp that transitions gracefully from clean boost to overdriven tones. Volume increases from just over unity to about 10db before soft-clipping drive appears for another 5db of boost. Its extraordinary ease of use is matched by outstanding versatility: you can use it as a clean boost, push a stubborn amp into overdrive or create a just-breaking-up sound at any amp volume.
October Audio’s new family of mini NVMBR Gain pedals includes a switchable version that allows you to bypass the effect: one option features brand logo pedal graphics, while the other sports a fun “Witch Finger” graphic with a Davies knob as the“fingernail”.
The second version in the new lineup is an always-on device featuring the Witch Finger graphic and Davies knob, with the same NVMBR Gain circuit that lies at the core of the switchable version.
- Knob controls gain and clipping simultaneously
- Stunning silver hammertone finish
- Switchable versions are true-bypass, available with classic or witch finger graphics
- Authentic Davies knobs, including the “fingernail”
- 9V center negative power supply required
- Dimensions: 3.63 x 1.50 x 1.88 in
Witch Finger (always on NVMBR Gain) demo
All October Audio pedals are assembled in Richmond, VA, and available for purchase directly through the online shop. Street price is $109 for NVMBR Gain footswitch versions and $89 for the always-on device.
For more information, please visit octoberaudio.com.