Updated tone volume control boxes

I’ve updated my volume/tone control boxes. Both have a very convenient standard 1/4″ cable output jack. No more dongle hell!

Volume/Tone control box

The design now more closely resembles the original DeArmond Rhythm Chief boxes, with the omission of the “Rhythm” toggle button. To be honest, I’ve had ones with this button and I’m not really sure what it does. If it changes the sound, the effect is VERY subtle, though maybe mine was broken. Do comment if you know.

I can make them with a 1/8″ input jack for the pickup too, in case you want to add a plug to your pickup and make it detachable. Otherwise, you need to solder the cable directly from the pickup yourself. See picture below for an example using a Krivo pickup:

Available on my store here.

Volume-only control box

For the minimalists. A single volume knob, leave the tone to your amp and hands.

Available on my store here.


Tone/Vol Box Installation

Note: this is not a super-easy soldering job. There are tight clearances and tricky angles. If you’re not experienced with this kind of work, you may want to seek an expert to help.

  1. Pry the panel under the box off with a flathead screwdriver.
  2. Strip about 3/4″ off the end of your pickup’s cable and separate the hot and ground wires. The ground wire is either the shielding wire woven around the middle hot wire, or it will be colored black.
  3. Thread the pickup cable through the hole on the side of the unit
  4. Solder the pickup to the correct terminals:
    • Tone/Volume box: You’ll be soldering to the closest potentiometer from the hole. Solder the hot wire to the furthest terminal on this pot (the same one as the capacitor), and the ground wire to the closest terminal. Do not solder anything to the middle terminal.
    • Volume-only box: Solder the hot wire to the closest terminal on this pot, and the ground wire to the metal back of the potentiometer or the ground terminal of the input jack (it is on the angled side of the black housing), whichever is easier.
  5. Secure a ziptie tightly around the cable on the interior-side of the unit and cut off the extra tail of the ziptie. This will prevent the cable from putting strain on the solder joints when pulled.
  6. Put the panel back on and press around the perimeter to snap it into place. (If it has trouble staying, you can also put a dab of glue on the black input jack housing to keep it in place.

Steel guitar pick and bar caddy

So I originally designed this to keep my cat from knocking all my steel guitar picks and bar onto the floor and batting them into her secret black hole portal… and it does a fine job of that.

But the real killer feature is I can put on all my thumb picks in one quick motion. Often the hardest part of regular practice is getting started. Less friction = more practice.

On my Fender dual pro, I have a smaller version that I stick on to the guitar with mounting putty, which helps me get ready to play in no time at all. The bar can just rest in the tuner pan, as has been the way for generations before me.

All options are available on my store.

Removable 1/4″ input jack enclosure for Archtops and Selmer-style guitars

I started with volume/tone control boxes, then volume-only control boxes, and now it only seems natural to go the “purest” form: a simple 1/4″ input jack enclosure for the various pickups you might encounter. And if you’re like me, you no doubt have a dusty drawer full of them: Krivo, DeArmond, Stimer, Kent, and so on. Why do we do this? Who knows.

These are available in my store.

A standalone input jack strapped on to the top 3 strings.
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DeArmond FHC-style Volume Control Box

Edit: I have discontinued this model. See this post for the most recent version.


More news on the DeArmond control box front: I started making these more compact volume-only control boxes. Available in the store.

Why? The original DeArmond FHC pickups only had a single volume control knob. Minimalism at its best. After all, you can set tone on the amp. Personally, I don’t mess with tone much in the middle of my playing… too complicated. I’ll leave that sort of thing to Jerry Byrd and Danny Gatton.

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Project: make your own face mask out of tissue paper

In a Coronavirus pandemic world, working on guitar-related projects suddenly seems a bit… frivolous. Thanks to some cool 3d-printed life-saving solutions hitting the news during this time, my mind has shifted towards PPE (Personal protective equipment). Specifically, protective face masks which are difficult to come by these days.

Do your worst, large droplets

Now before I get the lecture: no, these are no replacement for N95 masks, which are designed to filter airborne particles of down to .3 microns. I see this as more of a solution for people trying to navigate in public without infecting anyone else and lowering your chances of inhaling large droplets from other folks coughing or sneezing. Also, if you make your own masks, you don’t have to go out and buy them reducing stock that should probably go to medical professionals. Finally, it’s better than nothing.

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Project: Audio Technica AT Pro 70, AT831b battery cover

Another quickie: I finally lost the battery cover to my AT Pro 70 lavalier microphone. Whipped this up right quick and sent it to the printer. Got the dimensions and curvature right on the first try!

It’s up on Thingiverse here: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4192857

If you rather just purchase one from me, head over to the store, where apparently I’m the leading supplier of AT lavalier microphone parts and accessories in the world. This is the life I have chosen.

Project: Custom Archtop F-hole Covers

Anyone who has tried to play a loud room with a nice, resonant archtop knows this problem well: you briefly lift your fingers off the strings and “WOOM”…. debilitating feedback through your amp.

There’s a low-fi quick fix for this of course, just run to the restroom and come back with a few handfuls of toilet paper. Then stuff ’em in the sound holes, like so:

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Octoprint: free SMS notifications on filament runout and more

While I’ve never had a spool of filament run out mid-print, it was time to prepare for the inevitable. First, I would need a sensor to detect the scenario. Also, time is usually of the essence if you’d like to save the print and swap in new material, and I figured it would be best to get an instant notification via SMS.

I came up with a solution using my preferred 3D printer interface, OctoPrint. It was a bit involved, so buckle up! This guide assumes you have some experience with basic electronics, 3D printing, OctoPrint, and Raspbian (ssh, shell, GPIO).

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