Journal Music Blog

Stomp Boxes And Piezo Transducers

I’ve been thinking of ways that Windhaven could bring more percussion without getting into personnel additions. I’d already bought a stomp box to use as extra percussion, but then it occurred to me that I could use it to trigger my Alesis D4 drum machine. I could use it, for example, to play a bass drum with my foot, adding a much needed extra dimension to our sound. But I started thinking that I want a snare, too. At first I thought maybe Victoria could play the snare to my bass drum. But that seems like it’d be distracting for her. We need her on percussion such as shakers and tambourines. So… clearly, I need another stomp box.

Unfortunately, after the gear we’ve recently purchased, we can’t justify the cost of another stomp box. So I started thinking of building my own (again, to use as a trigger for the drum machine). That led me to a $2 piezo transducer from Radio Shack. Couple that with a $3 1/4″ guitar jack, house it all in a slab of wood taken from the wood pile behind the house, and we’re in business. Not only¬† that, but if it turns out well enough, I might start selling the damned things on eBay.

I’ve also thought of another use for one of these transducers. I’ve never much liked the sound of the pickups on my 12-string electric bass and certainly can’t afford to buy new pickups. The sound I do like is what I hear when I put my ear to the body of the bass while I’m playing it. So what might I hear if I stuck a piezo transducer onto it and amplified it (at least in the studio)? Or, maybe, if I blend that sound with ambience I get while recording the 12-string bass with our Zoom H2 (if it’s loud enough).

If nothing else, it’ll be fun to play mad scientist for a bit. Hey… if it keeps me off of the streets, that’s a good thing, right? At least I won’t be chasing cars for awhile.

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12 years ago

How did this work out? I’m curious about making a stomp box of my own, and I’d like to know what all you had to do for yours, and if it sounds okay.

11 years ago

Could you (Wicasta) tell me whether you think one of those Radio Shack piezo transducers could be attached to a velcro strap, so that the piezo could be on the bottom of your shoe, such that when you tapped your foot, it’d trigger the Alesis DM5? Of course, I’d expect that one would have to cushion the piezo some, for all the obvious reasons. And, sorry to ask for dummy-proofing, but is it the case that one just attaches the lead(s) off of the piezo to the center conductor and shielding of a 1/4″ plug and cord, just like wiring up a guitar cable? I’m trying to just use two such items to trigger, respectively, the kick and snare inputs on the Alesis. If it works, I might add a third to trigger a crash or something, but, ultimately, I’m trying to turn what my feet always do anyway into a reasonable-sounding drum part for when playing guitar or keys. Thanks for any input! Joe

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