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    Egotar Tunes

    Rocket Man    -  Something  - My One and only Love -   Attics Of My Life

   

 

 

 

 
The Egotar is a combination bass/ pedal steel guitar. 

 I first got the idea for The Egotar living in NYC back in the mid 90's. Frustrated with the shortcomings  of midi keyboard element of the Swiss Army Bass  (emulating slide guitar parts/sounds) I thought to myself .... ,..."why not commit a truly authentic act of self indulgence?". I set out to figure out how to play pedal steel guitar with one hand while playing bass with the other ....  I figured that this could done fairly simply by mounting a slide on a carriage over the strings and reversing the action of the whole instrument. This would allow me to rest my palm on the carriage and "fret" and pick with the use of just one hand.  At that, I set out to build the a prototype. The original rig was really clunky but sounded great from the start. I even managed to toss it on the back of a cart and go play in the subway and made a living for a summer when my band was on the rocks and my studio slow.

                                         ..... Here's how it works 
   
Players right palm rests on lateral sliding carriage enabling single-handed slide guitar.   The bass guitar is played simultaneously using only the left hand employing a guitar technique known as hammer-ons .
Unlike  conventional  guitars, the pickup is positioned toward the headstock, thus this instrument's tonal operation is reversed. In other words.......... it's bass ackwards.  
Magnets on the underside of the slide carriage mechanism address the two long metal inlays on the face of the instrument keeping the slide in place. A pair of floating magnets addresses the smaller metal inlays (ok, they're nails) on either side of the instrument and act somewhat as frets.
   

The pedal pulls the cable core which pulls the "G' string, increasing its pitch to different increments.

The guitar is tuned in 5ths with the "G" string being tuned to a major second.  This allows the instrument to produce a multi-octave major triad when the pedal is fully depressed and a minor triad when the pedal is halfway depressed.

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A bicycle cable pulls the guitar's "G" string directly from below it on the bridge.
 

 
The original prototype employed drawer tracks mounted on either side of the "guitar" with corresponding wheels on the slide carriage as a means of mounting the carriage over the strings.  I carved indentations into the tracks that jibed with where the frets would be on a standard guitar. This allowed me to feel the exact spot where the slide carriage should come to rest for any given note(s). In the meantime, controlling the pitch of the "G" string in relation to the other strings evolved from a crude drum pedal design to a more accurate system that consists of a keyboard pedal, duct tape, and some extraneous drum hardware. In the second prototype I replaced the draw tracks with copper pipe (I was on a serious copper pipe tip at the time). The mechanism functioned much more smoothly but was outdone by the current prototype described above.

Busking in NYC was an interesting experience to say the least.  I had to overcome a natural aversion to rolling into a park or subway platform and whipping out this freakizoic instrument and start playing it.  I did the best for the Brooklyn-bound passengers at the Lafayette/Broadway stop. It's a relatively quiet station with low central ceilings (cozy almost).  I would sit and play this improvisational, drugged, down-home country, Indian, Asian  sounding stuff, keeping  it as relaxing as possible for the crowd heading home evening. They appreciated it- I always went home with gobs of money. It was cool getting getting paid to learn how to play this thing I have great memories ...only in New York.

My approach to the instrument has been to find the discipline & challenge to play numerous covers with multiple chord changes in order to become more proficient player as opposed to the improvisational -"shooting fish in a barrel- tripped out dreamscapes that comes so natural to the instrument.  I particularly enjoy playing old Elton John tunes on the Egotar because of the wonderful chord inversions and familiarity to the listener.

 
  An earlier prototype employed a copper pipe for the slide mechanism. Jackson: take your shoes off you little commie
 
Every few years I pull this thing out, dust it off, work on it, improve it and play it until my brain bleeds and I get burnt out and throw the thing in the corner. As far as this series of recordings goes, I came up with a set of familiar cover songs and perform them in an intimate, stripped down way, sort of the opposite of the Johnny Skilsaw thing. The Egotar is great for making up songs but my  focus here  was expanding as a player while producing some familiar  music that's easy to listen for a change.  I intentionally chose songs I believe to be great songs, many of which have complex chord progressions and huge poly chords that seriously hurt my brain.... resulting in my dreaming  up The Fractal Harp

 

                                                       

  Rocket Man - Elton John

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road - Elton John

My One And Only Love - Louis Armstrong

Wonderful Tonight - Eric Clapton

Attics Of My Life - The Grateful Dead

Just A Closer Walk With Thee - Sweet Emma & The Preservation Hall Jazz Ensemble  (traditional  hymn)

Michelle - The Beatles

Something - The Beatles

Time In A Bottle - Jim Croce

Heart Of Gold - Neil Young

America - Simon and Garfunkel

Ripple - Grateful Dead

Broken Hallelujah - Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley

Mercy Seat - Nick Cave, Johnny Cash

 

                                           

 

 

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