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Chapter 5. DeskBeam Bass: > The DeskBeam in Principle - Pg. 145

MAKE: PROJECTS Eccentric Cubicle Actually, I have a confession to make. It's not just gonna fit on your desk; it's gonna be your desk. Or rather, your desk is gonna be it. We're making a bridge, tailpiece, and headstock to clamp onto your desk and turn it into an extended scale fretless bass. How extended? Therein lays the crux of this particular biscuit: you can make this little fella as long as it needs to be to fit your desk. As you (no doubt quite deservedly) rise through your corpo- rate hierarchy to the point where you actually have a desk 18 feet long, the DeskBeam will be right there with you. 5 Lacking the brobdingnagian magnitude of Craig's epic instrument, the DeskBeam is unlikely to stimulate more than the occasional butt wiggle (unless you're funkin' out like Bootsy), but it's still going to shake your cube, given the cun- ning way we're going to mechanically couple the string vibra- tions to the side panel of your desk and use it like a big-ass speaker diaphragm. NOTE: So what if it's not exactly flat response? It's gonna move air. Which really is all that matters with bass, innit? ? Figure 05.01: The angles of the piece. Lower corners can be connected, or just hooked to the bottom of the desk. This is gonna be a pretty easy build: lotsa measuring, not much cuttin' and drillin' and generally easy-to-source compo- , nents. Over the last six months, I've given every appearance of having a not unsubstantial desk fetish to friends, family, casual acquaintances and startled office workers, taking detailed measurements of every desk I happened upon in an attempt to arrive at an honest-to-goodness "one size fits all" design for this instrument. I was thorough and diligent, but I can't make any promises. Your employer may source his office furniture from an avant-garde European manufacturer who favours a non-Euclidean approach to linearity, in which case the onus is on you to suss out the design essentials of the DeskBeam and adapt them to work on your amorphous blob of a workstation. 6 For added GarageBand fun, we'll equip the DeskBeam with a stereo pair of piezoelectric contact pickups, letting you capture every nuance of your dramatic reinterpretation of "Portrait of Tracy" directly onto your PC. lines to complete the structure. The top two right angles are equipped with the headstock and tailpiece assemblies; the four wires that connect them across your desktop are the strings of the 'Beam. The bottom two right angles link to the upper corners with adjustable lengths of threaded rod but aren't necessarily connected together horizontally. Given a modest J-hook, they can just as easily hook onto the bottom edge of each side panel of the desk. [Figure 05.01] We're using the string tension to establish and maintain the structural integrity of the polygon, which results in the entire structure being resonantly alive. Depending on the style of your desk, one or both of the vertical connector rods is fitted with what amounts to a sound post to transmit structural vibrations to the desk end panels, energizing them acoustically. [Figure 05.02] NOTE: The sound post is a critical component in both the struc- tural integrity and acoustics of members of the violin family. It's a wee bit of spruce dowel wedged inside the body of the instrument between the bridge and the back. Besides serving as a support beam of sorts to prevent the body from collapsing, it mechanically couples the string-induced bridge vibrations to the back panel and modifies the resonance and sonority of the top and back panels. The placement, shape, and material of the sound post have huge impact on the voice of the instrument. The DeskBeam in Principle Let's look at the basic premise of the mechanism. Think of the build as an effort to construct a polygon by defining the angles, then connecting them together with 5 And at its full-scale length, your popularity with the female demographic of your workplace will potentially soar. 6 I don't envy you that, but I bet your desk is damned funky looking. The DeskBeam uses a Flintstones-level variation on the Steinberger tuning mechanism, 7 tensioning the strings with a linear pull mechanism located behind the bridge. Nuts and 134