Foot stomp / kick drum pedal

One of my favourite blues guys is the venerable John Lee Hooker. I was probably about 16 or 17 when I was first hit by this primal force of blues power, full of raw intensity accentuated by it’s simplicity. One man, a guitar and his left foot was all that was needed to create a hypnotic syncopated beat and that left a deep impressionable on me when everyone else all around me was looking up to Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Van Halen and Yngwie Malmsteen.

When I got around to doing acoustic blues gigs, I wanted to recreate that sound and make more racket, so here’s what I did:









It’s basically a crudely-cut plank with what used to be a headphone transducer glued on and soldered to a 3.5mm socket. You can probably get similar results with a piezo element but I didn’t have one lying around, so the old headphones became a gracious donor. Rubber strips were a necessity to keep it from wandering around on it’s own all over the stage.

I’ve used it at gigs through a DI box or plugged straight into the mixer with the high and mid frequencies turned all the way down to get more of a kick drum sound. I could have gone with one of these but hey, this is the Cheapskate Engineer and we just don’t do that sort of thing here.

Here it is in action:


Together with the bottle cap tambourine pedal:


At this gig it was going through a DI box. Be sure to work with your soundman/lady to get it (and everything else) sounding right.


Bottle Cap Tambourine Pedal

Whenever I play as an acoustic blues duo I always try to make as much racket as I can, in the spirit of Dr Isaiah Ross:


Lugging a hi-hat around is pretty much out of the question, so I naturally went for a quick and nasty solution.

First you’ll want to polish off as many bottles of beer as you need bottle caps. This one is entirely up to you and how much racket you want to kick up, I went with 2 stacks of 3 to keep the plywood to a size that could fit into a gig bag.

Punch a hole through the centre of each bottle cap with a nail and hammer, then screw it onto the plank using a wood screw with a shaft that’s mostly unthreaded, so that the bottle caps don’t get stuck on the threads and dampen your merrymaking.

Next, you’ll want to have something springy below so that it comes back up after you step on it. I cut a piece of foam and stuck it on the bottom in unglorious fashion with masking tape:

It mic’s up pretty well if you’re playing on a bigger stage:

Un-mic-ed it can be pretty loud too for a small pub/cafe gig, here it is in action:

In that video you can faintly hear some kick-drum-ish thing going on too, that’s another pedal for another installment.

And for the record, Heineken and Carlsberg are piss. They just happened to be the only ones I had on hand at that point.