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Clever Hack Makes a Guitar Sound Just Like a Video Game

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Whenceforth cometh that unusual guitar shred? What is this strange device that makes a guitar sound like the budget score to a 80s video game? Let me explain.

I've written about Jeremy Bell's experiments with trying to cut rapidly between audio feeds before. With his most recent hack, Bell created a little rocker that allows him to cut between a live signal from his guitar, and a slightly delayed signal from that same guitar. It's like the sound is time traveling at Bell's command.


The rocker is cheap and resourceful. Here's the description Bell give me by email:

The rocker itself is a small, flat strip of wood. For the fulcrum, I secured an old chopstick to the center of the wood strip with rubber bands, and then duct-taped the ends of the chopstick to the base. For the contacts, I filed the paint off of four metal thumbtacks and attached them to the rocker and the base. I soldered audio cables to the tacks so that one audio signal passes through one pair of tacks when they touch, and the other signal passes through the other pair when they touch.


When Bell's rocking rhythmically in sync with the beat, the effect sounds like a manual version of your regular old delay, which slaps back the same tone at a regular interval. The more interesting sounds happen when Bell varies the rhythm of his oscillation between live and delayed feeds. That double tap maneuver in particular makes the signal sound like something programmed for an old platform fighting game.

The sounds this hack facilitates are awesome, but I would love to see a feed splitter like this built into a foot pedal maybe? The way it's designed now, you can only play guitar with one hand. Which is possible! But, uh, guitar is meant for two hands.