I first came across Peter’s instruments when he started doing one-off eBay auctions for instruments. The first one I saw was for the Ambrizer. I immediately wanted one, but I couldn’t afford one at the time. Several years later he came out with the kitten-nettik kits. I bought a Fourses kit, and after getting it in the mail, spent the next week putting the thing together. Once finished it was the coolest thing I owned. I always tell people when they ask what it is, that it sounds like it looks. I feel that statement sums it up well. Angela painted my Fourses, then after a few months she order it’s partner, the Fyrall. She finished hers in a day or two amazingly, then I painted hers. After that he began putting out paper circuits, which, much like 4ms pedals original designs, called for the layout to be printed, and glued onto a piece a cardboard, with holes then punched, and the components mounted directly onto the board. I built a few of those, finishing with the Rollz-5, a beast of a project, and a hell of a machine. I’ve since purchased many of his ‘finished’ instruments, including the Cocolase, Sidrassi (which I used to build my Sidrassi-Tom), Namasitar, and Radio Zither.
Below are photos and descriptions of the ones I, or my wife have built.
Here is my Fourses shortly after finishing it. I later put in a plastic grill to protect the speaker after my cat put a hole in the speaker by walking across it.
I still use the Fourses very often, as it is part of my ‘drumset’ setup, laying behind me with a 9v battery laying on top of it.
This is Angela’s Fyrall. By this point he made the speaker holes smaller to avoid what happened to mine, but we still built in a plastic speaker grill into this one as well.
Both the Fourses and Fyrall had a single extra hole, which had no wire to go to it (coincidence?). I added a 1/4” input jack to both going to that pin, allowing for external instruments to control the kitten-nettiks very easily.
Old Mr Grassi
Old Mr.Grassi is one of my favorite Ciat-Lonbarde instruments as it was super fun to build (paper circuit), it’s very small/portable, battery powered, and is very ‘playable’ in the sense hat making connections always has the same results (unlike the kitten-nettiks, which are always in a state of flux).
My Old Mr.Grassi has a few extra connections, which are some circuit-bent points I found when building it.
I housed mine in a generic black jewelry box and initially planned to have 1/4” outputs (visible in the photo), but it’s perfect ‘acoustic’.
Before moving to the UK I had most of my friends building one of these, and for about a month, my house was an Old Mr.Grassi sweat shot, with up to five people crowded on the two tables I had, all soldering away into the night.
The Rollz-5 is both most frustrating, and eventually satisfying thing I’ve built. I originally built it in Miami, but it never worked properly. I managed to get it produce sound, but a few of the individual board didn’t work at all, and because of how messy I had made the guts it was nearly impossible to effectively troubleshoot. We moved to the UK shortly after nearly completing the Rollz-5, and it sat on the shelf for over a year, reminding me of my failure every time I saw it until one day I decided to finally finish it. I unsoldered all the wired connections and individually checked every single connection. I found a few mistakes, and after fixing those and wiring it back up, it finally worked! I originally planned for it to have built in speakers, but the small speakers don’t reproduce the bassy sounds of the Rollz-5 very well. I will eventually wire them up, but at the moment, they only serve as decoration.
So what is it?
This is what Peter Blasser, the designer/builder has to say:
“RadioZither is wireless technology, in marriage with a fine wooden casket carved from Baltimore City logs. Modeled after the pan-Asian tradition of plank zithers (guqin, gayageum, koto), its form reflects upon ancient heritages. Its function is to transcend traditions through radio, to inspire global thinking physically as well as ethereally. This instrument sonifies plucks as well as movements between plucks, it is played / meta-played.”
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-makes music and art
-lives in Madrid/Manchester
-is a crazy person
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