Netpunk November 2001

Note:  My column is usually due on the 5th of the month preceding the month that the issue comes out, which is early in the month before the month of the issue. Huh?  In other words, this column was due September 5th.  After the terrorist attack in New York on September 11th, the editors at MRR asked us if we wanted to add to (or rewrite) our column to address that issue.  The first four paragraphs of this column is that addition.

I am deeply disturbed by the reaction I've seen, mostly from mainstream America, but also from some in the punk community, to the terrorist attacks in New York.  Yes, the people responsible should be held accountable, and yes, it was a very tragic event that killed thousands, but the wave of nationalism that has erupted and the call for retaliation and war against other nations (Afghanistan in particular) is downright scary.

It seems that most people see it as an Attack on America (the media catch phrase), but I see it as an attack on the human race.  Boundaries are artificial constructs and, especially with the growth of the Internet, seem much less relevant.  So, put down your American flags and your calls for retribution and instead think about those that died innocently, simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

A great online resource of essays relating to a more thoughtful view the terrorist attacks (and anything that happens between the period that I've written this and when you read it) is  You can get all of your flag-waving from the mainstream media, but for truly thought provoking essays you should visit this site.  You owe it to yourself as a punk rocker.

And now, back to my regularly scheduled column, written before everything turned to shit...

Got a band but can't afford decent amps or pedals?  Has your band ever played a show that sucked because all of the lights in the rental hall had to be left on because there was no lighting in the stage area?  This month's column might have the answers you're looking for.  I'm talking DIY, baby.  If you can't afford equipment, why not build it yourself and save a bunch of money?  There are a ton of resources available for free on the net that will give you all the information you need to make all kinds of equipment.

For most electronic projects, you'll need some tools that you may not already have, but are useful and not too expensive.   You'll need a small soldering iron (30 watts or less), rosin-core solder, a pair of needle nose pliers, and a set of wire cutters.  You should be able to get everything you need for less that 20 bucks.

The other things you'll need are the parts and circuit boards necessary to put together whatever it is you are building.  You can scrounge everything yourself from an electronics store, or you might be able to buy a kit that contains the parts you need.  The cost of all of this depends on what you are trying to make.

Probably the easiest way to get started is to buy a kit and build something from it.  Some kits with great instructions are available from PAiA Electronics (   For example, the book "Electronic Projects for Musicians" by Craig Anderton shows you how to build 27 different pedals and the like, and you can buy individual parts packs for each of the projects in the book.   The book is 30 bucks, but check with your library and see if they have a copy or will order one.  PAiA also makes build-it-yourself synthesizers, compressors, pre-amps, and even a theremin.  I'm currently working on the theremin kit myself.

Of course, buying a book and all the parts in a kit is probably a more expensive way to go than just getting free information from the net and heading to your local electronics store to buy the necessary capacitors, resistors, and the like.  But, if you don't know what you are doing, it's probably best to go with a kit.

Before you get started, you might want to teach yourself a little bit about electronics, and, in particular, how to read a schematic (a "map" of a circuit board).  You'll find some useful electronic tutorials at .

Another great site for guitar effects is the GEO (guitar effects oriented) webpage.  GEO ( not only gives you information on building your own guitar effects, but also provides info on fixing those old effects pedals that you find at a thrift store or that no longer work.  Anyone with a serious interest in maintaining their equipment should check out these pages.

I also found a bunch of guitar effects projects, including the Big Muff and a Fuzz Face at AMZ.  Their address is .  In particular, the projects, the schematics, and the links sections seem quite useful.  They also have a large list of books that you can buy at Amazon, of which the DIY Guitar Repair guide looks very interesting.

The Univox Superfuzz is a killer guitar pedal but a used one from the late-60s or early-70s can cost upwards of 200 bucks.  This is the pedal that gave Mudhoney their wall-of-noise sound and can be used to make even the cheapest guitar sound nasty.  You'll find complete details on building a replica of this pedal at .  Way cool.

If you have all the pedals you need, or you want to try something even more interesting, why not build your own amplifier, or better yet, your own TUBE amplifier!  While PAiA (mentioned above) has some guitar pre-amplifiers you can build, you'll want to visit the AX84 ( project to really get into building your own tube amp.  AX84 is the "co-operative tube guitar amp project" and they have a bunch of different amps you can build, as well as amp kits and a discussion forum where you can get help from other amp-builders.

I found a slew of information on different DIY projects at Shavano Music Online.  You'll find information on building speaker cabinets, including layouts for classic Fender and Marshall cabinets.  You'll also find information on audio cables, speaker wiring, how to solder correctly, and how to use a volt ohmmeter.  Finally, this site also contains information on building your own portable lighting system that you can take to gigs and use when you show up and find there is no stage lighting.  Check it all out at .

Another cheap method of stage lighting is to build a PAR38 light can by using a #10 coffee can.  Cost ends up being about 5 bucks per light, assuming you can get your hands on the cans.  You can even set these up to take gels so that you can have different colored lights.  You can find instructions for building these at .

If you're interest is in building your own analog synthesizer, then should be your main destination.  This site is a collection of links to other places where you can pick up schematics and parts, and find others who are building their own synths.  Heck, I even found a site from this one where there were plans on making electronic drums from margarine containers.  Fun fun fun.

That's it for this time around.  Next time, I'll have some more music sites for you, so keep them coming at me.  Remember to mail me about YOUR site at or visit for my past, present, and future columns.  See ya.