Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Electronic Projects for Musicians (Anderton, Craig)

Rating: 5
Year: 1975, 1980
Genre: Music, Electronics
Read again? Yes

Around the same time I was learning to play guitar--late '80s, early '90s--I was also into electronics.

I figured it'd be fun to build my own guitar effects and such...but I never built anything. I studied, planned, tinkered with stomp boxes I already had, but to this day I've yet to start or finish any of Anderton's example projects.

It's not him. It's me. Always wanted to say that.

The book's a reasonably comprehensive mini electronics course. In the first four chapters, Anderton introduces various electronic components and where to source them, what sort of tools you'll need, and assembly techniques, enclosures, soldering, testing, and the all-important "smoke test" when the project either catches fire or works like it's supposed to.

Chapter 5 introduces the books' 27 projects, including a simple pre-amp, headphone amp, tone controls, distortion, an 8-input mixer, phaser, talk box (think Joe Walsh or Peter Frampton), and a noise gate...hell, here's the list:

Passive tone control
Headphone amp
Bass fuzz
Ring Modulator
Dual-filter voicing unit
Adding bypass switches to effects
Guitar rewiring
Bipolar AC adaptor
Treble booster
Electronic footswitch
Tuning standard
Super Tone Control
8-in, 1-out mixer
Using a volt-ohm-millammeter
Practice play-along
Phase shifter
Making patch cords
Talk box
Tube-sound fuzz
Envelope Follower
Noise gate

Chapter 6 discusses different ways of patching the effects together, since your overall sound will be affected by the order in which effects are connected.

As a bonus, my copy of the book came with a flimsy record page with examples of many of the effects in action.

Looking over the list, I can't see me building a Tuning Standard because in the past 20 years small tuners have become cheap and small enough to fit in your guitar case. Most of the rest might bear revisiting, though--I'll need to dig out my big folder full of scribbled notes and schematics. It's always more fun to just look at the stuff, try to figure out how it works.

Overall, the book's well-written and illustrated, with parts lists for each project and plenty of assembly photos. Of the three books like this in my collection, this is the best.

No comments: