Introduction: The 'Jam Stand': a Portable, Custom Guitar Amplifier & Stand
I am a music fanatic and I love to play my electric guitar. Unfortunately though, I also need an amplifier but carrying one around is very cumbersome. Apart from the bulky amplifier, I also need a guitar processor and a stand for my instrument because leaving it to lean against a wall could bend its neck over time or even spoil its head and neck with a fall. I find it very irksome to have to lug all these around when all I want is to 'Plug-n-Play'. Another factor is that I travel a lot and between staying at home and going to school, I also go to a lot of places and yes- my guitar is always there with me!
Hence, in order to avoid duplication of luggage, I have designed a single product with all these features not forgetting the fact that it needs to be lightweight for portability.
Step 1: The Design Brief
The problem of having to carry all the equipment necessary to play the guitar is encountered by me and most probably other guitarists who feel the urge to just 'Plug-n-Play'.
This problem arises because of the bulk that has to be carried around just to play my guitar.
So, here's a list of my equipments:
1. My Guitar: An ESP LTD Viper 10
2. My Guitar Processor: A Zoom G1X Next
3. A Hercules GS455B Universal Guitar Stand
4. My Amplifier: A VOX AC30VR Valve Reactor
5. My Guitar Case: A GWE-ELEC Gator universal electric guitar wooden case
6. Ibanez APC Series Gold plated Jack-to-Jack (6.5mm) cables
7. My Pick Case
Step 2: Product Analysis
Before I started building or designing, I first looked at similar products in the market. Here are a few the stood out-
1. Custom Stand
Pros: Good overall Size, Very Portable, Good Finishing
Cons: No space for a guitar processor and also for other things like leads/ cables
2. RI Thinline Tele and Vintage Ampeg (gearslutz.com)
Total stand weight is approximately o 8 lbs 11 oz. The metal amplifier stand weighs 9 lbs. 7 oz. Walnut wood used.
Pros: Good Finishing, Concert Amplifier Size
Cons: Extremely Heavy, not Portable, too Large, no Separate compartments for Guitar Processors/ cables
3. Handcrafted Guitar Amplifier and Guitar Stand (etsy.com)
Very sharp amplifier and guitar stand. Holds two electric guitars and was built to hold a Fender Deville tube amplifier. Has a raised edge at back to keep amp in place. This stand measures 35" high by 41" wide and 11 1/4" deep. The top shelve measures 27 3/4" by 7 1/4". Inside amplifier area dimensions are 26 1/4" wide by 26 3/4" high and 11 1/4" deep and will hold many different amplifiers. Built of sturdy pine but is available in oak and poplar also.
Pros: Has a slight tilt back for better sound projection, Can hold other smaller amplifiers or same sized amps, Guitars rest on carpeted supports with lip and necks rest on rubber coated hooks, Includes heavy felt pads on bottom to protect wood floors.
Cons: Too Large, Not Portable, Will be very heavy, No Separate compartments for Guitar Processors/ cables.
Step 3: Design Ideas
After doing my Market research and product analysis, I finally zeroed down on the things I wanted in my design. I then came up with Design Idea's.
1. This model is made based on a suitcase design. It is made of wood. It has all the required features however, the height of the stand is less and would result in an effort to bend in order to place the guitar properly. This bulky design may also result in a weight increase. The leads and connections inside also would look messy.
2. This model is shaped like a Trapezium and is also made of wood. A large base gives us a good stable structure and thereby lowering the center of gravity of the entire structure.This model gives us ample space for a guitar processor and also for other miscellaneous items. The connections will not be visible and so will not at all look messy. The stand is also at a comfortable height to reach.
3. This model resembles a refrigerator/cupboard at a first glance. It has separate compartments for the amplifier and the effects processor. This model requires a height and hence would mean that it would be very difficult to carry around.
Selecting the Best Idea:
Out of all my designs, I chose Idea 2. This is because it seemed the best idea when I looked at the following Points:
- Having a larger surface area at the base meant a stable structure with a low centre of gravity.
- Having a hollow body inside meant better acoustics for the speaker’s output as opposed to the suitcase and cupboard based designs.
- Best suitable height to place the guitar
- Easy to carry around
Step 4: Choice of Material
Out of all the materials short-listed, I chose to build my product with wood. I based my decision on the material selection matrix attached in the image. The colour codes below the matrix also highlight the reason of the choice; wood getting the first preference here.
As mentioned in the material selection matrix on the previous page, metal would be quite heavy, lack appearance and safety.
In the same way, plastic would not be eco-friendly, and lack strength. I am using a 5mm double wall poly-carbonate though as a rest for the guitar and also as a cover to the base.
Another factor which influenced my decision is prior knowledge and experience of working with wood. Other materials would also be difficult to work with in the Lab. After the selection of the material, the next step would be to select the appropriate kind of wood to be used.
Step 5: Choosing the Wood
There are several types of wood for different purposes. Since low weight is one of my main product specifications. I decided to use a softwood: Pine
Step 6: Deciding the Joints to Be Used Keeping in Mind Stability and Strength
I used wooden dowels to join the pieces of wood together because such a large piece was not available and this was the best method found. The butt joint was used as the sides were to be joint at an angle. However, if there wasn't an angle, I would have used a mortise and tenon joint as it would be stable.
Step 7: Virtually Designing the Project on Autodesk Inventor
Step 8: Tools Used
Here is a list of tools used for the bracings:
1. Drill Press
2. Drill Bits
3. Bosch Cordless Drill
4. Digital Calliper
Tools for Cutting/ levelling:
1. Fore Plane
2. Power Planer
3. Table Saw
4. Tajima Rapid Pull Saw
5. Jack Plane
6. Band Saw
General other tools for Woodworking:
1. Sash Cramp
3. Compass Saw
Step 9: Hardware and Other Miscellaneous Items
1. Sony 'Xplod' Car Stereo Speakers
2. RGB LED Strip
3. 3.5mm Double Wall Poly-carbonate Sheet
4. Acrylic Sheet
6. Veneer Sheet
7. Fevicol Marine
8. Audio-Video Computer Cable (Male and Female)
9. Paint Markers
The electrical components for the circuit are also included in the docx file uploaded.
Step 10: #1 Woodworking: Getting Your Hands Dirty...
I cut two of 10 * 17 pieces of 1st grade pine and planed it for the back. My original idea was to have a base that was 30" Upon joining the pieces by hand, I realized and was also advised that 30" would be a little too much and hence trimmed it down to 18". I then trimmed the edges and made 3 holes of a little more than 1/2" on both planed sides.
Simultaneously, I made wooden dowels of 1" length each so that we get 1/2" of the dowels on both sides. Next was the tricky part, the fitting. For the fitting, I used Fevicol MR, a Sash-cramp and C-clamps to hold the wood in place.
The wood was then left till the next morning to dry. This process was repeated for the front panel as well.
The front panel though, had an ellipse cut in the center for the speaker to fit in. I used the band saw for this purpose.
All the sides were planed down to flush with its adjacent side. The front panel went through a lot of alterations because of the control panel. The control panel was formed using a plunge cut. It was not easy but I managed with a assistance from others.
Step 11: #2 Woodworking (contd)
For the circuit, the original Idea was to take apart an amplifier and insert the control panel into my design. I was later advised not to do so and to build my own circuit. I considered this but due to the lack to time, I intend on finishing the circuit and connecting it with the mains transformer and the control panel at a later stage.
Each side has a brace on it as shown and all the sides are .5" thick except the top and the base to improve strength of the structure.
The control panel was built on acrylic after a lot of designing.
The acrylic would help make the components sit flush on the surface and below the acrylic is a slab of thin aluminum to hold the components in place. The poly-carbonate which would act as a cover was finally mounted in place with hinges and the dowels to act as support for the guitar also were put in. After everything was done, I sanded it, coated the surfaces with lacquer and finally added the final touches like gluing the poly-carbonate at the bottom and assembling the speaker.
The other bit was to have a little artistic touch to my product, so I asked one of my friends, Krittika Singh to work her magic on the then blank-looking poly-carbonate sheet.
Step 12: Planning for Production
Please note: 48 hours means 48 Working Hours. (give or take)
Step 13: Building the Circuit
The circuit was first built on a breadboard to find any glitches and then fabricated on a PCB after the final debugging and finalization of the circuit.
Step 14: Product Testing
The dowels are a good base for the guitar. It sits comfortably on the dowels. The guitar effects processor also fits perfectly in the little opening at the bottom between the poly carbonate. The polycarbonate on top also is able to support the guitar with ease. The speaker sits flush on the surface however, the cover cannot be used as it takes up a lot of space which the guitar needs for resting on the dowels
I would rate the product as according to my specifications but the fact that I could have made it much better than it already inspires me to work on version II. Due to lack of proper planning and time management, I was not able to make it what it could have been.
There is scope for a lot of improvement though. After submissions and my IGCSE examinations, I will complete the circuit, and give it a much better finishing than it already has. Version II of my Jam Stand is also undergoing the thought process. It will hopefully turn out much better than the first version
On the whole, I am disappointed with my performance in this project though I did learn a lot of things. I learnt how to effectively use the various power tools and the tools here in the Design Lab. In the process of trying to cut wood on the table saw, I also cut my finger and I must admit that that taught me more about the table saw than when one is advised.
Spraying Lacquer also seems easy but it isn’t. I learnt this the hard way after I had to wet water sand my lacquered surface when I got a few runs. The Power planer too is a tough tool to use. Again, this too, I learnt the hard way after it chopped off quarter of an inch of a plank I needed. After that, I have always used the jack plane, fore plane & the block plane for my planing and laid off the power planer. Since my design calls for a lot of cuts at angles, I had my fair share of mistakes on the table saw as well.
There are several things I would like to improve on my production; either for version II or as further improvement in version I. Firstly, I would change the material of the dowels and use silicone. This is to prevent even the slightest of slipping that happens now. The speaker is also all exposed and hence, would like to place it in such a way that the cover of the speaker sits flush on the surface. As of now, the knobs of the potentiometers touch the back of the guitar when it is on the dowels. This is of no major implication but I would like to place a rubber or silicone bar just above the control panel so that it none of the components touch the guitar. Another thing which could be improved is the polycarbonate cover. I have used it and found it quite flimsy; something which I couldn’t predict before, and so would like to place wooden beadings around it so that it sits flush.
[All the images were taken from www.google.com except for the photographs taken of the product and the renderings from Autodesk Inventor]
Step 15: Final Product
Here are the Images of the Final Product.
Step 16: Survey + Credits
This project was actually built as a part of an IGCSE Design & Technology Coursework Project in the 2013 May-June Session
The project was graded an A.
Credits: Our Mentor/ Design & Technology teacher: Mr. Naren,
Krittika Singh (Artwork)
Harshvardhan Taunk (Help with designs)
Neerav Sharma Nepali (Camera and Input)
Sarthak Bista (Input and extra help)
Arav Bhatt (Input extra help)