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Post new topic Unusual "instruments" used on recordings
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Author Topic:  Unusual "instruments" used on recordings
Tim Kowalski


From:
Illinois, USA
Post  Posted 12 Jul 2018 10:54 am    
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Time to lighten things up a bit.
I have been thinking lately of the recordings that I have made in the past using household items and weird techniques to get the sounds that I wanted. I had no money to buy a cowbell, so I used a coffee can. A sturdy metal coat hanger made a cymbal sound if you hit it with the right striker. I even played a saw on one of my recordings to sound like a theremin. Guitar cases made good kick drums.
This was back when instruments were not produced in massive quantities and were pretty expensive. I doubt that I am the only one who did this.
Let's not forget Haggard's Workin' Man's Blues. Sounds a lot like a Budweiser longneck being struck with a pen.
What kind of crazy stuff have others used. I almost forgot about weaving a piece of waxed paper into my dad's old Harmony acoustic to emulate a fuzz tone.
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Bill McCloskey


Post  Posted 12 Jul 2018 11:19 am    
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Well, those interested in the works of John Cage can point to any number of "odd" instruments, including using radios as an instrument. And of course his work with 'prepared pianos' is legendary. (miss Cage).
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Rick Schacter


From:
Portland, Or.
Post  Posted 12 Jul 2018 11:21 am    
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Brian Wilson used a Sparklets water jug for the song Caroline No.
IIRC, Marshall Crenshaw put a pop filter on a mic and tapped it with a ball point pen to emulate a kick drum.
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Rick Campbell


From:
Sneedville, TN, USA
Post  Posted 12 Jul 2018 1:18 pm    
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Years ago, we used a piece of paper in the strings of a guitar in place of a snare drum.

RC
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werner althaus


From:
lincoln, NE
Post  Posted 12 Jul 2018 1:37 pm    
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I know it's not an unusual instrument but before I owned a (cheap ) bass guitar I used my old Gibson ES-5 archtop guitar with the strings tuned down one full octave. Strings felt like overcooked spaghetti but I did manage to play Bass parts with decent intonation. It is to this day the best bass sound I've recorded.
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Tim Kowalski


From:
Illinois, USA
Post  Posted 12 Jul 2018 1:54 pm    
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Many years ago my brothers and I intentionally tore the speaker cone on my old man's Supro amp so we could get fuzz. Never recorded it. Then we patched it up with toilet paper and fingernail polish.
What a stupid thing to do. I wish that I had that old amp today. My dad bought a Gibson ES 125, the Supro amp and a Sure microphone for 90.00 from a buddy. One of my brothers still has the guitar.
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Bill Hatcher


From:
Atlanta Ga. USA
Post  Posted 18 Jul 2018 8:09 am    
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Rick Campbell wrote:
Years ago, we used a piece of paper in the strings of a guitar in place of a snare drum.

RC


thats the old johnny cash sun records sound. use an acoustic guitar and thread a dollar bill through the strings and slide it up to the nut and strum. nice percussive high end whack! use a hundred if you have one...Winking
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Joey Ace


From:
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Post  Posted 6 Nov 2018 10:02 am    
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The old vintage bills sound better.
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Jim Cohen


From:
Philadelphia, PA
Post  Posted 6 Nov 2018 11:23 am    
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Joey Ace wrote:
The old vintage bills sound better.

Silver certificates?
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Rick Campbell


From:
Sneedville, TN, USA
Post  Posted 6 Nov 2018 6:15 pm    
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Jim Cohen wrote:
Joey Ace wrote:
The old vintage bills sound better.

Silver certificates?


We were cheap. We used a junk mail envelope.

RC
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Eddie Freeman


From:
Natchez Mississippi
Post  Posted 13 Feb 2019 8:07 am     Sounds
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I understand they flushed the commode in the studio toilet to get that whishing sound on Buddies Witches Brew recording.
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Jim Pollard


From:
Cedar Park, Texas, USA
Post  Posted 13 Feb 2019 8:44 am    
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I remember seeing Jeff Lynne playing an air conditioning grate in the Tom Petty documentary. I believe it was when they were working on the first Traveling Wilbury's album.
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Doug Beaumier


From:
Northampton, MA
Post  Posted 13 Feb 2019 8:48 am    
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Remember the 1964 hit "Have I the Right" by The Honeycombs? There was a thunderous stomping sound on the chorus. It was the band members stomping on a staircase in the studio! The engineer put a couple of mics in the stairwell leading to the studio and the band members stomped on the stairs.

---> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OuUpOerfT2I
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John Macy


From:
Denver, CO/Rockport, TX
Post  Posted 16 Feb 2019 7:30 am    
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Hey Tim, the anvil in Working Man was an ashtray and a butter knife....
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Tim Kowalski


From:
Illinois, USA
Post  Posted 18 Feb 2019 2:41 pm    
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Hi John,
That ashtray made the song a hit - at least for me.
It's got "that sound".
Thanks for clearing that up. I'll have a new picture in my mind when I hear it again.
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Ken Morgan


From:
Midland, Texas, USA
Post  Posted 18 Feb 2019 4:45 pm    
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About 12,000 yrs ago, I stuck a Shure 57 in a vacuum cleaner hose, scratched in time with a wooden spoon, to simulate a gourda gone bad...worked, too.
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John Macy


From:
Denver, CO/Rockport, TX
Post  Posted 2 Mar 2019 6:46 am    
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Ah, when good gourda’s go bad...
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Jon Voth


From:
Virginia, USA
Post  Posted 20 Jul 2019 6:29 pm    
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I think the phenomenon is called "found sounds" Using household items in music. I think Beach Boys did it, Fleetwood Mac "Tusk", countless others, etc.

Cool stuff!
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David Mitchell


From:
Tyler, Texas
Post  Posted 23 Jul 2019 12:17 am    
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Jack Rhodes the man that wrote Silver Threads and Golden Needles preferred a cardboard box for a kick drum back in the 50's. He just liked the sound of it better. Engineers could write a thick book on items used as percussive instruments.
I beat out a rhythm with the palm of my hands one time on the vinyl armrest of my LDG steel guitar for a Don Williams sounding beat on a record. It fit perfectly. A cool ear friendly drum track even though we were sitting in an expensive recording studio with drums.
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Tim Kowalski


From:
Illinois, USA
Post  Posted 23 Jul 2019 7:30 am    
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My brothers and I also used to weave a piece of paper through the strings of an acoustic guitar to get a fuzz effect. Usually one or two strings would have the right sound if you played around with the paper enough. "Satisfaction" was a big hit at the time.
The song "You Can Do Magic" by America sounds like they use a hotel desk bell on the chorus.

I love the vacuum cleaner hose idea!
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Jim Fogle


From:
Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA
Post  Posted 11 Aug 2019 4:39 pm     Typewriter & Matchbook Cover
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The Lovin' Spoonful song, "Money" from the 1967 album "Everything Playing" features a typewriter as the lead instrument.

An open matchbook cover rubbed back and forth in time against a blue jean pants leg can make a very interesting percussion sound.
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John Macy


From:
Denver, CO/Rockport, TX
Post  Posted 28 Aug 2019 5:54 am    
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The Violent Femmes recorded their new record at our studios this year and incorporate a Weber grill into their drum set..

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