New Guitar Case Amp

Ever since I started making music again in ~2013, my main guitar amplifier has been the very case that the guitar travels in. I use this for all solo performances, as well as my duos with Werner Cee, Chris Abrahams, and most notably IMD with Axel Dörner.

The idea to use transducers to turn its shell into a speaker had intrigued me for a long time, however previous attempts had failed simply because the first cases I tried this with were made of ABS plastic which kinda sounds like a wet sack. So only after I came across a guitar case made of epoxy did this whole idea come to fruition.

I put in a total of 6 transducers to go with my 6-channel per-string processing that I’ve been employing for all my setups during the last 30 years. Their different locations also means various filtering effects as sound is panned across the outputs. I do compensate for this in software to a certain extend, however for the most part I embraced this natural behaviour.

One issue you run into when setting the whole shell into vibrations is that you have to make sure to dampen any mechanical buzz that can emanate from basically anything that’s connected to it, most notably the latches. So in the end I removed them all, but then kinda struggled to find a replacement to keep things shut tight.

A rubber band:

Sail-boat like posts

And this is what I use today – an ordinary suitcase belt…

Here’s some more pictures of the inside:

8-channel amplifier (50W Class-D)

6-in, 8-out sound card (XMOS dev. board)

Despite this mess, the guitar still fits in and can be safely transported.

In fact I installed a pannier handle and can lug my whole setup with my bike (at least to local gigs)

So why “new guitar case amp”? Well, lately the original build has been cracking at the seams – I had to replace broken transducers, fix cabling, and various mechanical issues. I also wanted to upgrade to a beefier power supply and type of transducer as well as a better soundcard. Mostly though, the whole effect processing should be embedded as originally intended, rather than always connecting a laptop externally. Moreover, as the new guitar will have a digital output, this needs to be reflected by the overall system design. So, as often, too many things to modify at once…

Sometimes then, it’s helpful when outside events force your hand a bit and you gotta move forward with a partial build. In this case that’s a concert I’m playing next Wednesday (Aug 26th) with Axel at Au Topsi Pohl, where I thought it would be a good idea to have a new blog post along with the newsletter invitation. If you read this in time and wanna come, make sure to rsvp on their website (because, you know, COVID-19 and limited seats and all)

Anyway, here’s some pictures of the current state:

New transducers

New soundcard

Cleaner wiring

But no embedding yet and no digital guitar link either. Stay tuned for updates on that!