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The Rocker

The whole idea of switching between two audio signals happened kind of by accident. My original rocker only accommodated a single audio signal; it was just a way for me to emulate that turntablist cutting technique. But my original rocker (a clothespin wrapped in foil) was unable to create those ultra-fast "crab cuts" that have become such a staple of the genre.

So I built a more robust model, and I used rubber bands to hold down one side of the rocker so that I could swipe three fingers across the other side to get three quick cuts in a row: a "crab cut." But as I experimented, I discovered that I didn't even need to hold down

Rocker Schematic Thumbnail

This is a schematic diagram of the rocker. Click to enlarge.
The latest rocker model

one end with rubber bands, because the rocker would naturally snap back to a level position all on its own. That freed up the other end of the rocker, and I figured, why not use it for a second audio signal? Then I started developing a technique that combined crab-cutting and switching between two audio signals.

So what did I use for my second audio signal? Naturally, my first experiments involved my tape-scratcher, "The ScrubBoard." I tried using multiple tracks on the audio tape to create dual-playlist scratch sessions (see video). Next, I tried routing the ScrubBoard to one side of the rocker, and my guitar to the other (see video). But the setup that really caught people's attention was my third experiment.

This is my latest model. This model can accommodate two stereo audio signals (instead of two mono signals), and has mounted jacks instead of hanging wires.
Bipolar Guitar Signal Flow
This is the signal path I used to create my magical time-traveling guitar setup.

I've always been interested in taking the cutting techniques that turntablists use and applying them to the guitar. Of course, using a pushbutton to manually gate the guitar signal is nothing new; guitarists call it a kill-switch. But I found that the rocker's design really allowed for more precise rhythmic control, not to mention a second audio signal. After experimenting with a few different uses for that second signal, I think I may have stumbled onto something that is truly unique. I connected my guitar to a four-beat delay. Then I routed the live signal from my guitar through the right side of the rocker, and the delayed signal through the left side. After some practice, I discovered that switching between the live and delayed signals opened up a whole new world of possibilities! (see video)

A lot of people have been contacting me about getting their own rocker. Instead of trying to handmade rockers for everyone, I'm going to try to get a short production run of them professionally manufactured. Right now I'm looking for the right company to help me with the design and manufacture of the rocker (along with the ScrubBoard Alpha). Sign up for the newsletter to stay posted!

Me rockin out
This is me, using the rocker to play a very different kind of guitar solo.




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Dual Crossfaders Tape Speed Conveyor-belt tape loop The Seesaw Killswitch Scratching with Audio tape Loop belt transport controls The ScrubBoard Guitar