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  • Acoustic Footboard

    December 12th, 2018
    contra, footboard, music
    After years of playing around with electronic footboards, I'm thinking of going back to an acoustic one. Even though my most recent electronic one is more expressive in a lot of ways, and a big improvement over what I was doing before, it still doesn't feel as much like an instrument as I'd like it to. So I decided to try out making something simple:

    This is a sheet of 3/4" plywood with a piezo pickup glued to the top. Where my toe goes I've stapled a piece of sheet metal I had lying around from another project. On the bottom are four pieces of Sorbothane, a vibration-absorbing rubber-like thing:

    The glue is the same flexible cyanoacrylate I used before, and really this is very similar in materials and design to my footboard v2.

    Unlike with standard "French-Canadian feet" I play it barefoot. The heel gets a thumpy kick drum sound, and I slap the toe to get a higher pitched snare-like or rim-like sound. I can play it with one foot, alternating heel and toe, or with two feet.

    I need to add a little cover to protect the piezo from getting bumped and making a very loud noise. I also want to experiment with using the signal both acoustically and electronically (to trigger midi sounds) at the same time. And I want to try putting a hard little piece of wood on a spring that I can bring my heel down on to get a clean sharp tap. I'm not sure yet if this will fully replace my electronic foot percussion or whether I'll use both.

    Update 2019-06-25: I didn't end up liking this one as much. It's muddier, and it's hard to get a clear distinction between the high and low sounds. The bass is a very full sound, though, and for the kick drum role it's not bad. If anyone would like it I'd be happy to lend/give it.

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