Junkyard Jam Band

Junkyard Jam Band

DIY Musical Instruments and Noisemakers
by David Erik Nelson
October 2015, 408 pp.

"Author David Erik Nelson gives step-by-step instructions for some of the craziest freak-out instruments ever to make it in a DIY book: Hacked tape deck Scratchbox, Droid Voicebox, electric kalimbas and cigar box ukes, strange pre-amps and more. Highly recommended!"
Guitar World

"The bottom line is that Junkyard Jam Band is a winner that boasts instruments for all ages."
EE Times

Read an excerpt from Chapter 5, "The Scratchbox," on Makezine.com!

Download Chapter 6: The Droid Voicebox

Making music doesn’t have to be about dropping big bucks in the guitar shop or endlessly fiddling with expensive software. You can make good noise out of bits of wood and wire, plastic and steel. When you build your own instruments, creating your own sound comes naturally.

Junkyard Jam Band is a step-by-step guide to making a full array of complete musical projects—no previous carpentry or electronics experience required. Each build includes tips on how to coax the best sounds out of the instrument and encourages you to mod the project to fit your own style. Learn how to:

  • Bust up your old tape decks for a handheld old-skool Scratchbox
  • Give your voice a robotic makeover with the Droid Voicebox
  • Circuit-bend unsuspecting childhood toys into mutant glitching jazz-punk machines
  • Transform cigar boxes into thumb pianos and electric ukuleles
  • Build a crackling, multifunction Mud-n-Sizzle Preamp to attach to any electric music machine

Along the way, you’ll explore the physics behind wind instruments, discover how harmonics work, and get your feet wet with some music theory. To top it all off, the back of the book includes a soldering primer for total beginners, along with extra circuits to customize your instruments even further.

Build your own band your way!

Check out the trailer on YouTube!

Author Bio 

David Erik Nelson is an essayist, freelance writer, and award-winning science fiction author whose stories have appeared in Asimov’s and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, among others. He is the author of Snip, Burn, Solder, Shred (No Starch Press).

Table of contents 


Part I: Quick Projects and Tinkering

Chapter 1: The Slinkiphone
Chapter 2: The Plasti-Pickup
Chapter 3: The Elephant Trumpet
Chapter 4: The CPVC Slide Whistle
Chapter 5: The Scratchbox
Chapter 6: The Droid Voicebox
Chapter 7: Circuit-Bending for Beginners
Chapter 8: Junkshop Percussion

Part II: Weekend Projects

Chapter 9: The Playing-Card Pickup
Chapter 10: The Robo-Tiki Steel-Stringed Ukulele
Chapter 11: The Twang & Roar Kalimba
Chapter 12: The Mud-n-Sizzle Preamp
Chapter 13: The Universal LFO
Chapter 14: The Twin-T Phaser/Wah
Chapter 15: The Single-Chip Space Invader Synth
Chapter 16: The Bleepbox 8-Step Analog Sequencer

Appendix A: Electronics Components, Tools, and Skills
Appendix B: Extra Circuits
Appendix C: Music Theory Crash Course

View the detailed Table of Contents


David Erik Nelson was interviewed by NPR's Jefferson Public Radio. Listen and find out how "some truly clever devices for creating music—or at least noise—can be made out of stuff you find around the house."

"The bottom line is that Junkyard Jam Band is a winner that boasts instruments for all ages. Even really young kids can have fun with the Elephant Trumpet, the CPVC Slide Whistle, and the Droid Voicebox, for example, while older kids would really appreciate playing an electric guitar for which they had constructed the pickup. For parents who have a bunch of kids, I can totally see them building all of the instruments described in the book and maybe even forming a modest family band."
EE Times

Watch DIY guru Kipkay build Junkyard Jam Band's Scratchbox mini-turntable out of a mint tin, cassette player, and a credit card!

"If you are tired of just buying your instruments like everyone else, maybe it's time to be adventurous and pick up a copy of Junkyard Jam Band. David Erik Nelson's hope is that readers will discover the simplicity of creating noisemakers and it will open doors of creativity for music as well."
Maverick Magazine

Read an excerpt from Junkyard Jam Band in Performer Magazine!

Junkyard Jam Band is recommended on Guitar World's 2015 Holiday Gift Guide!

"David Erik Nelson brings new meaning to improvisation. These projects take us on a remarkable journey into the fascinating world of electronics. If you like building things and learning about the world of sound, this book will be a great addition to your library. The book is highly recommended for all readers regardless of prior experience or expertise."
David Herres, author of The Homeowner's DIY Guide to Electrical Wiring

"A fantastic guide to creating your own musical instruments from upcycled and found materials. Junkyard Jam Band is very well written, full of helpful photographs, and the projects are open-ended enough that by the time you finish one you are ready to expand on it."
Josh Burker's Blog of Musings