Friday, 20 March 2009

Blues Stomp Box

There's a bit of a story behind this project - sorry but that's blogs for you.

Angie, a very good friend of mine, not content with being a perfectly competent folk singer and guitarist, decided to become simply the best blueswoman in the county and a serious rival to the best the World has to offer - no, really.

Then came the bombshell. Angie wanted a stomp box. For those not in the know, a stomp box is one of those little wooden platforms that blues artists stomp with their toes or heels to add a bit of percussive oomph to their performance - cheaper than hiring a drummer.

In the olden days, hillbillies would make stomp boxes out of old wooden boxes made of... er... old bits of old wooden box, and very fine they sounded too. These days you can buy handcrafted, french-polished stomp boxes online for only a few hundred dollars... HOW MUCH? That's like a red rag to a bull for the Secret Laboratory!

Materials list:

  • Bits of old wood. Plenty of old bits of wood in the Secret Laboratory. Indeed, the Secret Laboratory itself is constructed almost entirely from bits of old wood (no secret laboratories were harmed in this project).
  • Bits of old electronic equipment (plus a few bits of new electronic equipment from sustainable sources). Sorry, but in noisy modern music venues you need to go through the desk and the PA to be heard, and this necessitates a bit of preamplification.
  • Screws and glue... loads of glue..

Equipment list:

  • Saw
  • Drill
  • Screwdriver
  • Soldering iron
  • Brain

With brain, use saw, drill, screwdriver and soldering iron to transform old bits of wood, glue, screws and electronic gubbins (from sustainable sources) into a stomp box. That's about it really. Results below:


  1. don't, you make me blush.... hope you're recovering from your lashing!!

  2. Trevor made a fab one of those and the musics not bad aswell. He is part a duo called Babajack who do great blues.

  3. I know Babajack! We've gigged with them at festivals around here! Great blues, yes!

  4. Rob from the Standpipe wants to make one. I have an old (cheap) mic he can have. Advice would probably be welcome!

  5. Phil - if the mic you've got for Rob is the kind that will go straight into an amp or a desk, that makes everything much easier. Because I originally used a piezo pickup I needed a preamp to make it more "amp/desk friendly", impedance-wise.

    Tell Rob to make a strong wooden box of comfortable size and make sure it's got ports (big air holes like you get on speaker cabs). Fit a jack socket (a couple of quid from Maplin). Solder the mic leads to the jack socket. Experiment with ways of mounting the mic inside the box. For example, try wrapping it in wadding (felt underlay?) so that it picks up muffled mechanical vibrations from the box but no external sounds from crowd or instruments, etc. Some people glue a bit of rubber mat to the top of the box to soften the stomp.

    It's a very personal thing - not a precise science. Good luck!