Monday, April 27, 2009

Guitar Pedal Blues

For some reason, I have a habit of becoming interested in things long after they go out of style. Books go out of print, movies that I had on VHS are unavailable on DVD, and cars that were hot years ago are no longer made when I finally have enough cash to buy one (Honda Civic del Sol, where are you????). Now my interest, and of course unavailable object, is in a particular type of guitar pedal. Namely, one that makes a guitar sound like a sitar.

Why a sitar, you ask (I'm assuming you're asking, because I'm about to tell you anyway!)? Well, the first song I asked my guitar teacher to show me was "Don't Come Around Here No More" by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. I've talked about that before. Sure enough, there's a sitar in there. There's also a sitar or sitar-like sound in "Paint it Black, by The Rolling Stones, "Norwegian Wood" by The Beatles, and even "Wherever I May Roam" by Metallica. Since I love those songs, and want to play them, I want the pedal.

Trouble is, there isn't one for sale right now. Oh, sure, there used to be. Danelectro made the Swami, Digitech made The Weapon (Dan Donegan's signature pedal), and there were a few others, like the Maharishi. The only place you can get these pedals, though, are on Ebay or some other third party site. The prices are absurdly high, due to the limited quanitity, and they usually come minus a few parts (like power cables or instructions).

So now I'm down to my last desparate choice. Make my own. Mind you, I've never soldered anything, but I'm about to order the circuit board and parts to make the Jawari, which was originally designed by Tim Escobar and is now sold by (at least the circuit board is sold by) General Guitar Gadgets. The parts I'm going to have to order through Small Bear Electronics, as my local radio shack was sadly lacking in anything resembling electronic supplies. Remember the days when Radio Shack had everything you needed to build everything from a radio to a computer? Yeah, those days are long gone, apparently.

Anyway, today I found a company that custom made a Jawari for one of their clients. Woohoo! thought I. No need to worry about soldering or screwing up over $50 worth of stuff. So I fired off an email to see how much it would cost. And I discovered two problems.

The first is that they're based in Germany. Shipping charges would be a nightmare. the second problem is that the dollar continues to be worthless against the Euro. So the price they quoted me (100 Euros) would become $135 (at least) not including shipping and handling. And they wouldn't even paint the box!

So now I'm back to square one: teach myself how to solder and then build the box on my own. Kind of exciting, but I've never worked with electronics or electricity, so I'm feeling a tad nervous about the whole endeavor.

Anybody out there ever do something like this before?

No comments: