Handmade Music Clubhouse

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Handmade Music Factory - a book by Clubhouse member Mike Orr - Review by Ted Crocker

Handmade Music Clubhouse member Mike Orr has written 'Handmade Music Factory (the ultimate guide to making foot-stompin' good instruments)', a comprehensive how-to book on creating home made instruments.  Published by Fox Chapel Publishing, he takes the reader through the step by step processes of building 7 instruments from materials found around most households..



Beautifully illustrated with plenty of progress photos, Orr teaches us how to build a:

  • 1 string washtub bass
  • soup can Diddley bow
  • electrified stomp box and washboard
  • 3 string cigar box slide guitar
  • cookie tin guitar
  • fretted 4 string tenor guitar
  • ironing board lap steel guitar


Mike also covers basic electronics explaining how to simply electrify your instrument.  He even shows us how to make an amplifier from an old cassette player!


There are a lot of sidebar snippets describing history, shop tips & tricks and playing advice, as well as bios of several of the high profile performers playing handmade instruments.  There are a lot of other instrument photos in the gallery section.  An enormous amount of inspiration for any level builder is crammed into these 160 pages.


The forward is written by members of the Robert Johnson Blues Foundation, an organization founded by descendants of the legendary bluesman.  They are dedicated to keeping his spirit and the music he inspired alive.  These instruments are a tribute to the days when factory instruments weren't an option for poor musicians who played what they built from found parts.


This book is a must read for anyone considering building their own instrument, as well as experienced builders who want to learn a few new tricks.  Orr lists all the materials and tools needed and guides you every step of the way to creating a simple, magical instrument.  He even provides full size templates of many of the components you'll build.  Your copy will have dog eared pages and notes written in the margins as you go back to Mike's plan of attack as you create your own one of a kind instrument.


Handmade Music Factory embraces all the great things here at the Handmade Music Clubhouse.  Like many members here, Mike Orr is a creative and talented inventor who loves to share his creations and knowledge to help people to build their own.  Bravo Mike!  Great job and thanks Fox Chapel Publishing for helping spread the word about what goes on at the Handmade Music Clubhouse every day.


Buy it Here!


Ted Crocker  9/25/11




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awesome!!! I can see a venue for a library series of how to's of this type..... be looking forward to stocking the library
http://www.ebay.com/itm/CIGAR-BOX-GUITAR-HANDMADE-MUSIC-FACTORY-DIY...  this the link tobuy signed copys of my new book.

WOW!!!  Really great book with alot of info.  The photos are beautiful.  I have one question....on page 111, Mike shows the wiring of two piezos to a jack.  One in series & one parallel.  What is the difference in sound?

All in all, Mike's book is the new bible in making handmade instruments.


I use and recommend in parallel.  The impedance that way 'plays nicer' with your amp.  I don't see any real difference in volume, but it does give a little richer tone.


I noticed one thing in the book.  He discusses soldering a wiring harness and when explaining how to solder the capacitor makes no mention of having to use a heat sink.  Sure way to fry the cap.

Ted - thanks for the tip.
Great book, I really enjoyed reading it. Soon to be available from C. B. Gitty Crafter Supply as well!

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