The crackle guitar project was born in July 2009 when I (musician, visual artist and performer Bertram Dhellemmes) visited musician, composer and sound devices builder Daniel Schorno in Amsterdam, and started to tell him about my new activities as a wannabe guitar maker. We’ve been very quick to consider the potential of a convergence of our domains into a common project, that would be to create an hybrid instrument merging electric guitar and crackle box. Daniel and I worked together already on a couple of projects with dancer Frank van de Ven, mostly on the complex and long running OUDAPO project exploring the constraints creative technics applied to improvisation in dance, music and scenography.
For a few months we exchanged ideas, notes and sketches, until Daniel could respond to my invitation to come and work at the Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart where I’m currently resident artist. We tried to consider all the possibilities and the needs we would have to gather a maximum of material and work intensively for 3 days with everything at hand. The biggest issue was to isolate each guitar string to integrate them in the crackle circuit, while keeping the acoustic qualities of the guitar – that was solve with the discovery of teflon bridge saddles to put in tune-o-matic style bridges, each string ending in individual ferrules connected to the crackle circuit (see pictures).
We started to work from two identical models of Japanese 70s cheap guitars (we wouldn’t want to destroy better guitars), Daniel and I having each a slightly different project with different options. The biggest difference is that my guitar has the possibility to be used with it original clear sound, a sound filtered buy the crackle circuit, or the pure crackle sound, that can be mixed at different levels, when Daniel’s is more focused of the crackle sounds. I will also extend the circuit on the whole guitar body. Daniel’s guitar will have an extra embedded speaker and a controlled stroboscopic LED interfering with the crackle circuit. I will also retrofit the guitar with a new finish.
We should meet again next February in Amsterdam to achieve the project and present the guitars to the enthusiastic crowds!
picture 01: Daniel proudly shows a LED stroboscopic device he intends to integrate in the guitars.
picture 02: a creative chaos
picture 03: tune-o-matic bridge equipped with Graph Tech teflon saddles
picture 04: 2 headstocks with brand new Wilkinson tuners
picture 05: knobs and pens (used for the sketches)
picture 06: my guitar’s naked body after daniel removed an armored layer of vintage lack with a plunging router.
picture 07: Daniel screwing tuners.
picture 08: the removing of the lack in process
picture 09: soldering
picture 10: a crackle circuit bit in its new home
picture 11: LED stroboscope
picture 12: the pieces of the puzzle start to fit together
picture 13: headstock modified to make new tuners fit.
picture 14: bridge and ferrules.
picture 15: the string-through-body system allows to isolate each string.
picture 16: what’s inside.
picture 17: headstock waiting for varnishing.
picture 18: gears and tools.
picture 19: trying to put the new saddles in the bridhe (I broke two!)
picture 20: why does my workbench always ends up like this?
picture 21: guitar parts and stuff.
picture 22: before we found out how to remove the lack…
picture 23: a horn speaker in the upper horn turns the guitar from S-model to T-model.
picture 24: a LED mounted on a headstock.
picture 25: all the circuitry is mounted behind the pickguard.
picture 26: an almost clean body.
picture 27: it starts to look like something.
picture 28: testing the crackle box as a guitar filter.
picture 29: the before pic.
picture 30: recycled vintage electronics.
Sketch 1: Bertram’s model.
Sketch 2: Daniel’s model.
more about the crackle guitar project on gUitarREN.