Archive for August, 2010

Rainy day business

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

Some might remember the green kit I purchased on Ebay at the beginning of June. Basically the condition was ok: No major damages such as cracks or tears. The yellowed polycarbonate surfaces had been pasted over with an ugly rubber layer. Some screws were missing and the aluminium frames demanded some polishing.

the original Ebay picture taken by the seller


Polishing the rims with metal/chrome polish


Polishing the shell: once with acryl polish, once with polish for old car lacquers


After the new surface sticks tight to the plywood underground, the protection foil can be removed. Reflecting like a mirror!


Assembling all parts again


bassdrum pad waiting for the new surface. This is a bit tricky as this pad needs to be completely disassembled for a surface replacement. The XLR connector is the reason


The XLR connection must be removed and soldered again for surface replacement


Drowning the soldering points in hot glue (after testing…of course)


a brand new XLR connector


Bright and shiny again


Sunday afternoon in the garden

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

Sunday is supposed to be a family day. But what happens if none of the jobs get done during the week? 3 weeks ago I got 4 white Musicaid pads from my Simmons buddy Sibi to restore. Well, why not combine work and family life?

So here are some impressions of today’s day:

one of the old surfaces removed with the help of a hair dryer

the table on the terrace. Interesting: The shells are mounted to the plywood with rubber fittings, they are not screwed! First time I saw that.

a crack fixed with two component glue (and later with a layer of white lacquer…)

although there is still a tray for the speaker, this pad already features a piezo … but not in the center?!

polishing the new surface with plastic cleaner

Everything cleaned and assembled again.. Johanna drawing in her book.

not everybody is interested in what I am doing

Girls often don’t take me seriously 🙂

The Stepp guitar

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

The internet is full of coincidences. Watching the Kate Bush video “Experiment IV” I was already enthusiastic about the Simmons kit when I saw the guitar player’s synth guitar.

I was sure that I have seen this before and I was right! It was the “Stepp Guitar” synthesizer.

taken from Complete Simmons Drum Book

In the “Complete Simmons Drum Book” Bob Henrit writes about the “Stepp Guitar”:

Over the last few years when I’ve been visiting either of the Simmons factories, I’ve frequently been confronted by a very futuristic guitar which has always been whisked out of sight the moment I’ve asked any questions about it. However, this bunch of hi-tech components has finally emerged as the ‘Stepp’ guitar, which now has only tenuous links with Simmons, to the sort of critical acclaim which greeted the original SDS.5 drum set. Being the go-ahead company that they are, Simmons have frequently carried out, via their ‘R and D’ department, feasibility studies on a number of percussion, and non-percussion-linked musical properties. They’ve not only looked into guitars, but also keyboards and the like.
Back in the early days at Abbey Mill, a chap called Steve Randall came along wit a sketch of a guitar on the back of a cigarette packet. This was his dream and he felt that Dave Simmons might well be able to help. They talked about the project and Dave experimented with an ARP 2600 and some pickups and applied what knowledge he had about voicing to get the equipment to produce guitar-like sound. From there he built prototypes, and then ran into so many problems that it became obvious very quickly that he’d either have to devote all of his time to the project, or none at all.
So, even though there were many times that the guitar could have been a total of Simmons venture, the board decided to pass on it in favour of drums. Steve Randall consequently took their joint work to a Cambridge consultant where it has resided ever since. Dave says that the formative ideas where mostly Steve’s, and post-Simmons he’d been searching for some time for very good brains, as well as a large amount of fonance to make the dream a reality. It has not, I understand been easy for him and has necessitated a great deal of stubborn determination to get this revolutionary guitar into the market-place.
The guitar, with its inherent complicated technology, was beset by many problems which were unfortunately not solved overnight. Dave Simmons says that, had his company remained involved, they would not have had sufficient resources left to fight their other drum battles. Obviously it would have been a great coup to have Simmons hi-tech drums and guitars, but the company decided they had a big enough battle on their hands building the market for drums, let alone guitars.
Just like Simmons drums the ‘Stepp’ guitar is unique. It’s not a bastardisation of an acoustic instrument, and they haven’t simply mounted a pickup and endeavoured to pluck control signals from the strings. They’ve taken a sideways look at the whole soncept. In their philosophy they parallel Simmons who always maintained that if you’re going to do something different, then you might just as well go the whole hog.
From bitter experience Dave knows that there are going to be guitarists who critisise the ‘Stepp’ in the same way that drummers originally derided the SDS.5 drums. They’ll probably say why should they pay a great deal of money for an instrument which sounds something like the guitar they already own? the fact is, if they’ve managed to make it sound like a guitar and play like one, then they’ve more or less ‘cracked it’. It is relatively simple then to persuade it to sound like an organ, a trumpet or perhaps even a drum!

While we discussed the guitar, Dave admitted that some of the problems Simmons have had with their products have been of their own making; they were simply too complicated. He feels that they ran perhaps too far ahead of the general public. It’s frustrating for the company, but they can understand the public too. For ‘Stepp’ guitar to be successful the people behind it will have to realise this. The player will want to pick it up, plug it in and scintillate. Because of dummy strings he may have to modify his technique a little, but otherwise one would have thought all the lessons learned from marketing Simmons electronic drums, could be just as succinctly and valuably applied to the ‘Stepp’ guitar.

(Steve Randall performing on his Stepp guitar)