Wobble Steel Guitar

Last modified 8-12-2009
Wobble Steel Guitar

Wobble Steel Guitar

This guitar uses a unique pickup system, in connection with some unusual acoustic properties, to create its own strange and lovely sound. The soundboard is a flexible steel sheet, and the vibrations of the strings are fed directly through the bridge into this sheet. (The foam pads around the edges, aside from looking ugly, allow the player to hold the guitar with minimal damping to the vibrations in the sheet.) There are two pickups. One is a magnetic pickup (a homemade version of the sort normally used on electric guitars) which is positioned to listen not directly to the strings, but to the steel sheet. The other is a contact pickup, also on the steel sheet. During playing, by moving the neck, the player can flex the steel, causing shifting resonances within the sheet even as the notes sustain. It also varies the nature of the contact between the bridge and the sheet, for another layer of varying tone quality. The two pickups pick up all of these ever-shifting filtering and resonance effects.

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Sounds of the Wobble Steel Guitar

To learn the ins and outs of pickups and pickup making for an instrument such as this, look to the book Getting a Bigger Sound: Pickups and Microphones for Your Musical Instrument, by Bart Hopkin. Whether your instrument is something as familiar as an acoustic guitar or something as exotic as a recycled-junk-o-phone, this book can help you think about the best options for adding a pickup or an onboard microphone to it. It includes complete how-to on pickup making, and much more.

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