Archives: June 2006
Here's the code, should you need it:
if (life == lemons)
lemonade = lemons + elbow_grease;
This Wurlitzer 112 I bought from Mike Fisher, while fun for a minute, is basically useless. Since I got it in November, my rather aggressive playing style has resulted in me replacing 7 tines (at $40 a throw) and gluing those little felt pads back on at least two dozen times, never mind retubing the amp and tuning the fucking thing (a process that took the better part of a week.)
My opinion on this instrument is that, while good looking and of historical significance, it is basically unplayable, and useless on stage, which is where I need it. This is not necessarily true of all Wurli 112s, but it is definitely true for this one. I don't really want to sell it, because I'm not going to get what I put in to it (over $700 at this point; I could have got a 200A for that if I was patient) and I don't really want to inflict this albatross on anyone else. So, thinking cap time...
The goal is not necessarily to have a good recording instrument, since the 112 is singularly unsuited for that. Rather, the goal is to have an electric piano I can play on stage that doesn't weigh a metric fucktonne, and stays in tune, and doesn't buzz. So, I decided to take the keybed and sound-bar-tine-contraption out of the 112, replace it with a MIDI controller, and run a laptop with either a really good Wurli sample set or one of the various soft-Wurlis out there. After several days of experimentation, I found that running Logic's EVP88, with some extensive programming, directly in to the amp of the 112 produced a sound almost identical to that of the 112 coming out of the same speaker, with the added benefit that I can run guitar pedals in the signal chain.
Here's an image of the build "sticker" on the soundbar tine contraption. November 2nd, 1955. That's nice. I took out the entire keybed, and now I need to scare up a MIDI controller that can give itself to the cause. I'm thinking one of those white Roland jobbies would be the best. It definitely needs to be one with absolutely no bells and whistles. (And by bells and whistles I mean knobs and sliders.) The nice thing about this whole operation is that there is a lot of room inside the case, so I can put all the appropriate power, the audio and MIDI interface (a Presonus Firebox in this case), and the power supply for the laptop, which will sit on top of the unit. I can run the FW and power cables through one of the sound holes in the top, and the only cable will be the power. All the jacks and such on the side of the Wurli will still work, and in order to use guitar pedals, I'll just take the "Recording" output, and go back in to the amp input. If I don't have the pedals plugged in, sound will come out the speaker like normal.
This is gonna be nifty. Now to find a controller. The caveat here is that the original Wurli keybed has 62 keys, but all modern MIDI controllers have 61. So either a fake key at one end, or a little bit of overhang that will need to be covered with some carpentry. No matter.
Our good friend Jeff Laity sent me some pictures of his new DIY Composer Station, in order to inspire jealousy, no doubt. There are more here. It's a pretty nice affair, although I have to take issue with his LCDs not matching. That's just not acceptable!
The above is Mike Brown of Livewire Electronics burning in the custom E.A.R. modular he and Peter Grenader designed for Alessandro Cortini of N.I.N. There are several other videos here, and a page about the synth here. Having seen NIN a few times, I'll give it about four shows before it is battered in to splinters during the Roundup. Well, it was nice for a minute, anyways.
UPDATE: After speaking to Alessandro and Mike, it turns out I was a bit optimistic. It only made it through 2 shows before it got shut down by Trent via the judicious application of water.
Pertinant market-speak: Since the dawn of time we humans have loved the beat of drums. Now we may not have managed to evolve much since the sun came up on time, but drums sure have, and now anyone can lay into a drum kit and thrash out the solo to 'In the Air Tonight.'
That doesn't make any sense at all. But that said, this is a circuit-bender's wet dream. Go buy one. It'll be the Next Big Thing for faggily synthi-pop wannabe industrial bands. No, really it will.