Lazy Day Sawbservations

•September 14, 2010 • 1 Comment

I am drooling.

Here are more:

Sawbservations: Musical Saw vs. Karaoke

•April 16, 2010 • 1 Comment

I bet my little Wentworth never knew she’d be singing show tunes at a karaoke bar in Little Korea, but she did!

Here’s a very sketchy video of her karaoke debut. I was actually in there making a birthday video for my little sister who’s living in Germany, but hey, there’s never a bad time to bust out the saw.

This is me, my friends Nelson and Mariel, and my lovely little Wentworth.

New Baby on the Way

•December 7, 2009 • 1 Comment

Just ordered the 36″ Charlie Blacklock. Sawbservations to come.

DIY Music: More Musical Sawbservations: Two Shows, Two Saw Sounds, One Night.

•September 2, 2009 • 3 Comments

Last week I played two very different saw shows in the same night and it led to some interesting sawbservations.

The first show was with Calamity Royale at one of Toronto’s most magical music venues, The Music Gallery. It’s actually a working church that can be booked for shows and it’s really quite stunning. We played with the amazing Willow Rutherford and Montreal’s Music for Money (whose lead singer is actually a human drum machine and it’s mind-blowing).

Anyway, our band consisted of a cello, double bass, horns, Calamity on piano and my saw. Without drums, and with the obvious acoustics in the church, we just used a condenser instrument microphone clipped onto the saw — which should have been completely enough. However, I learned that as much as a saw sound is meant to carry in a space (which is why it doesn’t work well with contact mics… you to pick up the sound from the air and not just the vibrations of the object) it still could have used the duo setup with vocal mic. Some people mentioned it was a bit quiet.

Then, I rushed to The Tranzac for a late-night set with The Lipliners, which is where I usually have the hardest time amping the saw. The Lipliners is basically a mini-orchestra with tons of people on stage and lots of loud instruments in a small room.

As I’ve mentioned before, amplifying the musical saw in a large/loud band setting is a real challenge because: Having to crank the sensitivity of the mic(s) allows for a lot of bleed-in from louder and neighbouring instruments, especially the drums (sit behind the drums if you can) and, it’s always a challenge to hear yourself in the monitors.

But, The Lipliners’ super sound man Colin had an idea for the second set. He suggested we plug the clup-on mic directly into a bass amp (still no vocal mic) and then he sacrificed a good chunk of the sound in the monitor for room sound. (It’s also important to note that just because your band can’t hear you, it doesn’t mean the crowd can’t hear you. Get the sound man or a friend to go back and give you a subtle hand signal if you’re getting self-conscious.)

The result was wicked. The saw could REALLY be heard, so much so that I actually got a bit self-conscious and started worrying about overplaying or being obnoxious (mostly because knowing I was missing a lot of monitor sound made me have to be extra careful with how loud I was giving ‘er.) But, everyone commented that it sounded awesome and Ronley said she could finally actually hear it.

So, who would have thought — surprised by a night of sawbservations again! I love this instrument. It definitely keeps you on your toes!!

Guess what I’m making this weekend

•August 7, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Who needs drums when you have culinary tools?

•August 4, 2009 • Leave a Comment

There was a lot of spooning at Hillside last weekend in Guelph, and I’m not talkin’bout Nelson and I in the tent.

Spoons in the sky

Here’s a little video I snuck of drummer Robbie from (The) Patrick Watson(s) at Hillside 2009 last weekend. He lugs around a crazy, souped-up DIY drum kit and puts all of my pot’n’pan drumming to shame. He’s also a fellow sawyer. Represent.

More on this year’s Hillside debauchery to come… as soon as I get my ass in gear.

DIY MUSIC: More Nerd Fun with Piezo Contact Mics

•July 15, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I had horrible insomnia a couple of nights ago so I started playing around with a piezo mic and my little Honeytone amp to see what noises I could get from what. Here are my findings:

  • WORKED: You can tape the contact mic to your chest and amplify your heart beat. Just make sure you crank the levels. (Nerd side note: You can stomp on a stompbox to the beat of your heart and its fun because as your heart rate quickens, you have to change your stomping pace. Oh, insomnia.)
  • DIDN’T WORK: Sadly, my metal soap dish attachment for my stompbox doesn’t really work. In fact, I tried different kinds of metal and steel plates on the board and they basically gave the same sound as the wood. When played separately, they can have a slightly “pingier” sound to them, but it’s not noticeable enough to warrant attaching something to the board.
  • WORKED: I taped the contact mic to both the bottom of a metal rack from my convection oven, and to a hand-held cheese grater, and scraped them with bamboo skewer sticks. A pretty cool sound for strange percussion players! (see pics below)
  • DIDN’T WORK: I strung metal jewellery wire across two bathroom hooks, attached to a wood block, and tried to play it with a bow. Didn’t work. The vibration was too weak to resonate into the wood, where the contact mic would pick it up.
  • WORKED: I attached two bathroom hooks to a block of wood, strung different-sized rubber bands on them, taped the contact mic to the wood and started playing the bands. (Much like the Kleenex-box guitars of our youth.) Worked like a charm! (see pics below)

What have you tried? Leave a comment below or email me at!

First Draft Stompbox Attachment

Convection Oven Percussion 2

Amplifying a Cheese Grater