The body is a semi-hollow Masonite and plywood Flying V loaded with lipstick humbuckers. I bought the neck used on Ebay and finished the headstock to match the body. I pretty much set out to build the most un-metal Flying V I could imagine. The mid-century kitchen yellow was the most obvious choice for me. Oddly enough, I think that cutting the pickguard was the hardest part of the build.
Jack Kirby, the undisputed KING of comics, would have celebrated his 98th birthday on August 28. Though a little late with this update, we here at Dang! Creative Services see Kirby’s work as a huge inspiration. Entering the nascent comic book industry as an illustrator in the 1930’s, Kirby’s career spanned well into the 1980’s. He created, wrote and illustrated many of the most well-known characters and titles in the history of comics including, Captain America, The Hulk, The Avengers, The Black Panther, The Fantastic Four, The X-Men… the list goes on and on.
Comic Books Journal posted a splendid interview with Kirby. The interview spans many pages, and is filled with many interesting personal stories, some interesting bits about his relationship with Stan Lee and tales about his life as a young man trying to make a living in the cutthroat comic book industry.
We haven’t made it out to the show yet, but we hope to get out there to see it as soon as time permits. In the meantime, we’ll work our way through the interview.
El Cometa is our first attempt a designing a complete bass guitar. Inspired by the designs of DanElectro Guitars, Rickenbacker and Gibson basses, this bass combines design elements from may different styles of guitar. The result is an instrument with a look and feel all its own. Continue reading →
This month we have the new Hot Cherry Overdrive from Dang! Creative Services! This overdrive is the second stomp box in our Funktronic line of effects pedals. A clone of the classic Marshall Bluesbreaker, this pedal is a great example of a somewhat transparent overdrive. I brings a nice, natural sounding distortion with out bringing too much crunch to your tone.
These pedals were also finished in bright red by a friend of mine using a really fantastic automotive-grade two-stage polyurethane finish. Coupled with the cool, retro graphics, brought to you by Dang! Creative, the results, again, are absolutely stunning.
ON DARK evenings in late 1916, a frail 76-year-old man could often be seen shuffling furtively between The Dove, a pub in west London, and the green and gold turrets of Hammersmith Bridge. Passers-by paid no attention, for there was nothing about Thomas Cobden-Sanderson’s nightly walks to suggest that he was undertaking a peculiar and criminal act of destruction.
Between August 1916 and January 1917 Cobden-Sanderson, a printer and bookbinder, dropped more than a tonne of metal printing type from the west side of the bridge. He made around 170 trips in all from his bindery beside the pub, a distance of about half a mile, and always after dusk. At the start he hurled whole pages of type into the river; later he threw it like bird seed from his pockets. Then he found a small wooden box with a sliding lid, for which he made a handle out of tape—perfect for sprinkling the pieces into the water, and not too suspicious to bystanders.
Those tiny metal slugs belonged to a font of type used exclusively by the Doves Press, a printer of fine books that Cobden-Sanderson had co-founded 16 years earlier. The type was not his to destroy, so he concealed his trips from his friends and family and dropped his packages only when passing traffic would drown out the splash. There were slip-ups, all the same. One evening he nearly struck a boatman, whose vessel shot out unexpectedly from under the bridge. Another night he threw two cases of type short of the water. They landed on the pier below, out of reach but in plain sight. After sleepless nights he determined to retrieve them by boat, but they eventually washed away. After that he was more careful. Continue reading →
Hard-working artisan, solitary genius, credentialed professional—the image of the artist has changed radically over the centuries. What if the latest model to emerge means the end of art as we have known it?
Pronounce the word artist, to conjure up the image of a solitary genius. A sacred aura still attaches to the word, a sense of one in contact with the numinous. “He’s an artist,” we’ll say in tones of reverence about an actor or musician or director. “A true artist,” we’ll solemnly proclaim our favorite singer or photographer, meaning someone who appears to dwell upon a higher plane. Vision, inspiration, mysterious gifts as from above: such are some of the associations that continue to adorn the word.
Yet the notion of the artist as a solitary genius—so potent a cultural force, so determinative, still, of the way we think of creativity in general—is decades out of date. So out of date, in fact, that the model that replaced it is itself already out of date. A new paradigm is emerging, and has been since about the turn of the millennium, one that’s in the process of reshaping what artists are: how they work, train, trade, collaborate, think of themselves and are thought of—even what art is—just as the solitary-genius model did two centuries ago. The new paradigm may finally destroy the very notion of “art” as such—that sacred spiritual substance—which the older one created.
Fresh off the workbench is this pair of stomp boxes designed here at Dang! Creative Services. These beauties will be marking a couple firsts for us. Firstly, La Calavera is the first in a series of pedals completed under the Funktronic label. Last year, we built the Funktronic Envelope Filter and decided to keep the name as an overall brand.
Secondly, these pedals were finished by by a good friend of mine who owns an auto body shop here in town. He was kind enough to paint these using the same two-stage process used in automotive finishing. The results are absolutely stunning.
This is the first in a series of pedals that I think represent some of the best work I have ever done. The “Calavera” concept art was appropriated from the popular Mexican card game, Loteria. I actually designed and built these with a buddy in mind who plays bass in a local Gothic/Pshycobilly band.
The pedal itself is a clone of the now-defunct Ampeg Scrambler. The Scrambler is a really interesting octave up ring modulator/fuzz pedal that produces a really sick, synthy-sounding fuzz. What makes this pedal really great is the Balance knob that acts as a wet/dry mix – an indispensable feature if you’re using effects with bass guitar. The Texture knob sort of increases the amount of octave-like effect.
Last few weeks I’ve been working on a little stompbox project. I designed three stompbox shells and will be building them out over the next few weeks. Here we have an Octave Divider, an Overdrive and an Octave Fuzz. The Octave Divider will be built from an original circuit designed by The Valve Wizard, while the Overdrive and Octave Fuzz will be clones of vintage pedals.
These will be pedals made almost entirely by scratch. I’ve etched the circuit boards and have been soldering the components in place. I’ll be posting images as the project progresses. I’m in the box-finishing stage now – one thing of note, is that a friend of mine with an auto body shop was kind enough to help me with the finishes. They look really fantastic. I should be sanding them and applying the decals today.
The Funky Popsicle has a really fun little design on the box that I recycled from another electronics project I did several years ago. I was looking for a retro graphic that was a both nostalgic and, well, funky and modern. The box itself is painted a really cool automotive metallic root beer color, that doesn’t really render onscreen well, but I think the image sort of speaks enough to communicate the look I was going for.
The pedal itself is clone of the ever-popular Electroharmonix BassBalls Envelope Filter complete with a few really cool mods suggested by Mark Hammer at diystompboxes.com. By itself, I always felt that the EHX BassBalls was more of a novelty than a useful pedal. It sounds really cool, but in practical use, it’s not really all that effective. However, with a few mods, it can be really cool. I highly recommend adding the Decay knob and the Mix knob (the Mix adjusts the emphasis between the upper and lower sweep). This adds a whole new realm of usable and dynamic sounds to the pedal. And with a Boss OC-2 Octaver before it – look out – synth bass ahoy! I also opted to keep the stock fuzz circuit, because after hearing the Bassballs demos, I actually liked the froggy vocal character it produces. Now mind you, the easiest, and most common mod is to mount the internal trimpots on the outside of the box, but after hearing a few demos and actually building the pedal myself, I felt that moving the trimpots isn’t a worthwhile mod. Most of the sounds aren’t very usable, and as far as adjusting the lower filter, there’s a really only small window of usability. Mark Hammer’s suggested mods, do include mounting the upper filter pot on the outside, and this does add extra dimension of cool tweakability.
Another little point I might add, this was my first stab at etching my own PCB. Initially, I tried using the more friendly vinegar and hydrogen peroxide method, but it didn’t work for me. I ended up buying some etchant at Radio Shack and it worked great! I hate the using nasty chemicals bit, but I love that I now have two extra PCB’s and another Funky Popsicle box on my workbench.
In the end, this is currently my favorite envelope filter pedal. It sounds great, and when it’s blended into my dry signal, it makes for a really fun effect. It can produce a lot of really cool sounds and it is intensely dynamic and responsive to touch. The li’l lady seemed to be impressed as well. When I first tested it, she happened to walk into the garage and she said, “I really like that – it sounds like coconuts!”
I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for band flyers – after all, I got my start as a graphic designer by doing band flyers. I always played in bands as a teenager and young adult, and luck would so have it that I was usually the guy in the band with a visual arts background. Back in the day, we didn’t have Adobe Creative Suite, so I had to make use of things like black construction paper, dry transfer type, old newspapers and magazines to create elaborate collages that would reproduce well on a black and white Xerox machine. I remember my friends and I hitting the streets armed with a staple gun and a stack of 500 fliers the thick, black toner still warm on the paper. We’d plaster all of the telephone poles downtown, only to come back the next day and find them all covered or torn down. Oddly enough, I’ve seem some of these old flyers for sale on Ebay for $10.
I’ve been getting a lot of requests for band flyers these days, largely because I recently started playing music again in a local band. Today, I’m pretty much doing the same thing – using old photos and setting type to create a visually engaging piece that exudes cool and says just enough about the music to make people curious enough to remember the name of the band. Photoshop hasn’t changed flyer design much, however, most of these flyers designed to be posted on Facebook or texted on a smartphone.
Band flyers I have always considered the fun part of my job. If you play in a local band and need poster for the gig or a cover for your upcoming CD, feel free to contacts us here at Dang! Creative Services. We’re always happy to accommodate musicians and work with various budget constraints.