I saw a post about someone’s purchase of an acoustic stompbox. I’ve seen them online before and I’ve even seen one used by Chris Whitley (obviously before he passed away). He was playing the Zephyr Club in Salt Lake City, UT. He had an angled box and it looked like he just shoved a mic inside it. Then he started stomping on the box and it sounded magnificent.
Here’s Chris playing Little Torch (labeled “Firefighter” here). You can hear the acoustic stompbox as the steady thump through the entire song. Just a wonderful song!
And if you want to see an example live in action, go to the 1:34 mark in the next video.
I did a little searching online and started to see that I could make some sort of DIY acoustic stompbox on my own if I had a piezo pickup. I’ve been looking at ways to amplify and record my acoustic guitars (classical, steel string, national steel, parlor, etc.) and to have the ability to record other instruments (violins, etc.). I’ve seen some cheap piezo pickups in the five dollar range during my search, but then I came across this website that described making an acoustic stompbox out of an old speaker. And more importantly, I have all the required parts as scrap out on my workbench.
I got plywood, an old jack, and an 8 ohm speaker from an old broken handheld radio. Unlike the instructions, my little speaker doesn’t have any screw holes, so I used hot glue to attach it to the wood. Then I hot glued the wedge piece to put the whole thing at an angle and provide clearance for the speaker. Next I wired the well marked positive wire from the speaker to the tip of the jack and the negative wire to the sleeve of the jack.
Well, that didn’t work. But when I plugged it in and touched the back of the paper cone on the little speaker, I heard noise through my amp. So I tore the speaker off (the hot glue actually broke free pretty easily…wouldn’t have worked for long). After some trial and error, I ended up using some old screws to hold it in place.
That kind of worked, but the speaker would catch on the ridges of the screw threads and make more of a popping sound than an actual thumping stomp sound. After some more thought, I got some old rubberbands from when my daughter was really little. Two loops and they became a cushion for the speaker.
It isn’t the loud thump I was hoping for, but it is certainly making noise.
In my search for examples of acoustic stompboxes I came across this performance of Come Together. Great slide guitar and he uses an acoustic stompbox!