The Making of Betty
Behind the Lines with Michael Smith – Drum Media
You’ve probably all seen those great double-neck guitars that that seemed to be all the rage in the 70s as played by Jimmy Page and the like. Well, Blue Mountains-based blues and roots sol artist Claude Hay found that the sort of thing he’s doing required something along the double-neck line but couldn’t find it, so he built his own and named it Betty.
Basically, Hay explains, the top half of it is 25½ scale bass guitar, so it’s a guitar size bass and the bottom part is like a baritone guitar. Because they’re different scale lengths I couldnt really get anything readymade and Ive made guitars before since I wanted something sort of custom with all the different specs on it that I like.
The body Is an old kitchen benchtop that I had lying around, a nice piece of maple, but I kind of regret it now because it weights a ton! Because of all the looping I do I wanted all the strings on a bass and all the guitar strings as well, and its also kind of an acoustic guitar as well. Ive put an acoustic Piezo LR Baggs bridge with an acoustic preamp built inside as well, so I can switch it from an electric to an acoustic to a bass. I wanted as many sounds and options as possible quickly, on the fly. Though its a solid body electric, you plug the Piezo in and youd be hardpressed to tell it apart from a Yamaha APX live it really does sound like an acoustic.
For the electric side of things, I just used Bill Lawrence Stratocaster pickups, and I had an old Japanese bass I never used and pulled the pickups out of that, which are sort of like P-style pickups, just nice and old warm Fender copies so to speak but from the 70s. There was a lot of fiddling to work out all the scale lengths and where the best spot was to put things, because I couldnt find a 25 ½ inch-scale standard-tuning bass on the internet, and I also really had to experiment with string gauges to find the right gauge, but its great. Its all I mostly use now because I can get so many sounds out of it. Stringswise I ended up using 60s and 120s on the bass side, while the baritone electric side is actually quite different. The A string is actually D, and the E string actually has a bass string. So its an octave below that again, so when I do the looping if I stop into a midsection I can sill play a little bass as well. So its very low and unusual tuning and Im getting my head around how to play it!
More importantly, Hay not only had to transpose a lot of his old songs in order to play them on Betty but has written his forthcoming album , Deep Fried Satisfied from which his latest single How Can You Live With Yourself is taken. He’ll be launching it al Raval on Saturday March 27.
The Making of Stella II – Baking Tray/Cigar Box Guitar
Stella (Mark II) is a second version of the original baking tray/cigar box inspired resonator guitar. Improvements are separate piezo string outputs which will run through octave pedals to produce a bass sound. The sound is somewhere between a banjo, dobro resonator and an electric guitar. This second generation Stella came about from combining the best pasts of the last 2 guitars (Stella Mark 1 and the short lived Lucy who only saw the stage 3 times). Of note, the baking tray (which remains at $7) is semi floating inside the wood body to allow maximal resonance of the tin. It still has the separate magnetic pick up outs to run to valve amps and Peterman custom piezo pick ups to capture to resonance of the baking tray.
Check out Claude making his new guitar in this video.
The Making of Lucie
Lucy made a sneaky peak appearance a couple of years back – but needed a few more adjustments and she is unveiled in all her glory in mid 2014. She’s made out of left over building materials from Claude’s own Blue Mountain home and the resonator cover is an old BBQ lid. At first she was to have a resonator cone within, but after some experimentation she couldn’t make the cut above the rock and roll noise so now she has a mod con synth pick up installed in her. It allows Claude to make sounds and patches from bass to acousitc guitar, resonator guitar, banjo and even piano, all at a flick of the switch. It also allows for guitar tuning to be changed from standard to open in record time. Perfect for a One Man looping Band who needs to change things up quickly to keep the show rockin.
The Making of Loretta
This guitar is made from a half rotted piece of spotted gum which Claude purchased for 50 bucks. It has a resonator 7 inch cone and is fully loaded with more technology than a nasa self cleaning toilet, it has a total of 9 pickups, graphtech midi converters and pre's.
The Making of Jeri
Jerri is basicaly an experiment using a petrol can to make a metal resonator guitar, this guitar is being used a lot on the 2016 album. Check out the video below.