Last Monday, 2 a.m.: I was driving home from a gig when l felt the adrenaline finally leave my chest. It was at that moment I realized how difficult this show was. The room was almost impossible to command: People were constantly talking over the music, the PA mix was the worst, and I had to be downright combative just to keep their attention.
This week, I’ve built a new axe to add to my live arsenal: The DeltaLectric cigar box guitar. Based on a traditional three-string fretless cigar box guitar (played with a slide), I’ve hot rodded it with a vintage-style lipstick tube pickup in the bridge position. It’s a beautiful lie: It looks like a primitive blues instrument, but it screams like a bitch.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a column on Wesseh Freeman (a.k.a. “Weesay”) and his oil can guitar. He’s the blind artist from Liberia who had a video go viral last December. You guys responded so enthusiastically that I got in contact with Freeman. Through his biggest fan/helper in Liberia, Sachin Ramchandani, I’ve been able to become friends with this amazing guitarist.
Have you ever bought a guitar slide and had intentions of ripping new leads with it, only to discover when you get home that it’s damn near impossible to use? Yeah, I’ve been there, too. Playing slide guitar, well, takes a little dedication in practice, but also in the way you set up your gear, too.
I sat down with Mark Pirro, bass guitarist for the Polyphonic Spree and Tripping Daisy, to talk about the greatest of DIY recording techniques: recording something in the bathroom. Pirro had a completely unique take on the subject, using the bathroom as a mixdown echo chamber!
Somebody with a cell phone camera approached Weesay on the street and asked him to make up a jingle for O! Chips potato chips. Weesay picked up his three-string "can guitar" and proceeded to rock out. The result was a two-and-a-half-minute video that was viewed by millions.
Last week, I showed you how to take a common 2x4 plank and easily turn it into a playable lap steel guitar. (You can see those plans right here.) For this week, I've built a second 2x4 lap steel and improved its sound and setup; I even gave it a hobo-art look. I’ve listed links to the parts at the very bottom of this story, where you'll also find a new demo video.
Something major happened on the two-hour drive back home that evening: Instead of wringing my hands and lamenting the gig (as was usually the case), I started asking myself, "What are the specific details that went into my bad performance?" I turned off the radio, set the cruise control on the car and went through my whole act, song by song.
This is one of the easiest homemade guitars I have ever built, and it only took me one hour to make. This lap steel was made from an extra 2x4 I had in my shed and just a few saw cuts to the wood. I even used a pre-wired acoustic soundhole pickup so there was no wiring needed. Anybody can build this lap steel!