Posted by yellowdog on Tuesday, July 4, 2017
June 2017 was the introductory month for my new product, "Geiger Movable Tone Amplifier For All Banjos" (pat pend), which I invented to improve the sound quality and volume of all types of banjos, and also to give the experimental-minded banjo player an easy way of changing the banjo's tone "color" or timbre with an optional "Tone Kit". The Tone Kit is a card containing three pre-taped, small five-sided polygons of very thin pieces of steel, brass and maple wood. June was the month to introduce the product because for several months I had been in contact with Bob Piekiel, a regular contributor to "Banjo Newsletter" (BNL), the well-known and long-published, international 5-string banjo players monthly magazine, (Circulation of 5,000+).
This came about because Bob had called me to ask for information about a unique banjo bridge that I invented many years ago, (Anybody remember the "Geiger Scientific Bridge"?), and I happened to mention my current dream of trying to come up with a mechanical banjo tone amplifier powered by the banjo's own sound surface waves - the tiny physical deformations on all surfaces of a musical instrument when it is played and which are analogous to the music. Bob was very interested and offered to review it for Banjo Newsletter if it worked. Needless to say, his offer inspired the heck out of me and after that I kept Bob supplied with a long line of prototypes as they came into existence, most a little better than the previous effort. So Bob was able to see and hear my progress on his own instruments as the thing progressed from weird idea into reality. Bob aimed for the June issue of BNL for his review and I received my first order in early June shortly after it was published - from the wife of a banjo player who later ordered three more.
Later in June I placed a featured ad in Banjo Hangout under "Banjo Accessories" for three months, ordered one for the July issue of "All Frets" and a second ad in the August issue of BNL.
19 tone amps were sold in June, most with the optional tone kit. Most orders were from five string banjo players including some from the UK, Germany, France and Holland. Several were repeat orders which are always reassuring, and all comments made by customers were very positive. I learned from customer comments that the tone amo works on banjos with aluminum rims, especially when it is stuck to a coordinator rod. One customer had the wonderful suggrstion that I should offer a sleeve to protect the tone amp which could be used to secure it to the banjo rim when not in in use. (Parts for a prototype as he described it are already on order and he and his friend will get the first two that I make.)
Another exciting customer comment was from France. The banjo player in charge of the very large La Roche Bluegrass festival banjo workshop scheduled to take place the end of August said that he needed 30 to use in his workshop. (Yes,of course, I can make 30!)
I am absolutely delighted with the success of this device because, at least to my knowledge, it is the first practical direct use of sound surface waves to improve the sound of a musical instrument, and so represents new knowledge which others can build on. To me the new knowledge of how it works is more important than the tone amp, and that's why every tone amp comes with a detailed explanation of how it works. I believe that someday someone will use the knowledge of sound surface waves to achieve something good and in a way that has nothing to do with music. The banjo tone amp could be the first step toward that end.
(Following Added 07/06/2017): In the last few days I made two simple but very significant improvements to the tone amp which greatly increased volume and improved sound quality. The first change was to the clear tape which covers the cross. It isn't shown in drawings but the cross on the tone amp is covered with wide, relatively heavy acrylic tape that had extended down to the bottom of the bottom leg of the cross. The change was to the location of the bottom edge of this tape. The bottom edge was moved downward to be tangent to the top of the top hole in the set of four connected holes in the center of the tone amp and extends to the outer edges of the tone amp. The second change was to completely remove the single staple on the bottom right of the tone amp illustrated in the photo drawing as two short lines to represent its two staple points. If you purchased a tone amp that does not include these changes we will replace it at no charge with this improved design. The tape change almost doubles volume and the staple change improved clarity significantly.
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