Nate Houge, Doctor of Banjos, Amps, and Ipods.

Three years ago my friend Micah gave me his I-pod.  Yes, I know how cool that is.  We have similar taste in music so I was stoked to have all kinds of great stuff already on there.  Then I started having ethical issues with having his CD collection in my possession without having payed a dime so I thought it best to sync it up to my own itunes.  For most itune users this seems like a good idea.  That’s because most itune users have a ton of music on their itunes.  I didn’t.  In fact, I had downloaded itunes to my computer to purchase one song.  Hard Luck Woman by Kiss.  I know.  Surprise!

So I synced up the ipod.  And now I had an ipod with one song on it.  And I don’t even like Kiss.

A little over a year ago we got a new car that had an 1/4″ jack to plug your ipod into the stereo.  And we had a 14 hour drive.  I spent the week prior to departure loading up CD’s into my computer and then synced up 4 days worth of music to the ipod and we were off.

We stopped for gas about an hour out of town.  One of our kids who will remain nameless, but is the youngest, dropped the i-pod and we got this:

13 hours to go.  And only rough mixes of Becoming Liturgy to listen too.

Yesterday I decided it was time to do something about this Ipod.  I got on the internet and reviewed my options and everyone concurred that the best thing to do was to drop it.  It seemed a little Soviet Union to me, but what’s there to lose?  It’s not like I didn’t have Hard Luck Woman on the laptop if this failed.

So with Elsa’s help, who I won’t mention is the youngest, we dropped the Ipod.  Four times.  And as the saying goes, the fourth time’s a charm.  It whirs and spins and plays music.  Fixed it.

But it comes as no surprise to me that it was fixed because I seem to have a healing touch this week.

My banjo, which isn’t really mine but has been in my possession for 8 years so I think I’ve got common law on my side, has a junky cardboard case.  One time this junky card board case flew open in a San Antonio crosswalk and the banjo went skidding across the pavement with nary a scratch.  But still, I’ve been wanting to upgrade for awhile.  So when my Dad scored a Gibson hardshell case for $20 at a garage sale this summer I was stoked.  But the banjo was too long.  So I fixed it.

With my jigsaw.

But wait!  There’s more!

My favorite amp is this Kalamazoo Model 1 (shown here with my danelectro with a bridge upgrade)

It has two knobs, and the Tone knob doubles as the on switch.  Can’t beat the simplicity.  I think it’s a late 60’s model.  Anyhoo, I replaced the speaker and output transformer.  I had ordered the parts about a year ago and then we moved across the alley and I read stuff on the web about how touching wires in tube amps can kill you and I thought there was enough going on that I’d put this off till I could get together with my much wiser and electronically savvy friend Steve and we’d knock this out sometime.  But then I got impatient.  So Elsa and I took it apart on Wednesday.  (Lydia’s in school. Elsa and I have a lot of time together these days…)  Things went great with the help of the Google.  The only problem was that the new output transformer was much bigger – which was the point – but also wouldn’t allow the back of the amp to go back on.  So I fixed it.  With a jigsaw.

To give you an idea of the difference in size, the old OT is on the left and the newly installed OT is on the right.

And I can’t believe how awesome this amp sounds now.  In fact I’ll be playing some quiet songs on it tonight at Faith in Waconia.  So if you want to hear it first hand get your butt in the pews!

And if you need anything fixed come by sometime – Although I feel my power going from me – So it’s at your own risk.  And the mercy of my jigsaw.

Posted: September 18th, 2010
Categories: Uncategorized
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