Evolution of a Stomp Box (Part 1)



Although most of the following only loosely relates to "Footsie", I have documented here my efforts in creating "Electronic Stomp Boxes" in the hope that you may find it interesting and informative.

I was inspired to develop a foot drum by the British Blues player, Duster Bennett. He used to perform his act with guitar, harmonica, bass drum and hi-hat. This video is Duster performing "My Babe" by Willie Dixon in Paris on the same bill as John Mayall. Duster was sadly killed at the wheel of a Ford Transit in 1976.

I wanted to emulate Duster, but instead of the acoustic drums he used, I wanted to try something "wired". I figured it would take less effort to play and also be easier to carry around.

There are dozens of these simple wooden stomp boxes available. Some of them cost well over £100. I knocked this one up in half an hour. It's just a wedge with a cheap piezo transducer glued to the inside of the lid and wired to a jack socket. It makes a "thud" sound and of course, no hi-hat!

I camped out on eBay for a couple of weeks until I found a drum module by Alesis called the DM6, which I snapped up for just £40. The DM6 comes with a cable to hook up 8 drum pads. You can create 5 custom drum kits where each drum pad can be assigned to any of the 108 built-in drum sounds. You can buy a drum pad kit to go with the DM6, but I didn't need that. Drum pads use piezo transducers to trigger the sounds in the module.

So I built a box with 4 aluminium pads. Each pad is mounted on 3 rubber door buffers and has a piezo transducer glued underneath . The transducers are simply wired to 4 jack sockets. I created a recess in the middle of the box to hold an Akai Headrush Loop Pedal for my guitar. This design has the drum sounds triggered by the heel and toe of each foot.

This was not successful because even the slight movement of the foot when tapping the toe pads caused the heel pads to trigger as well.