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Mississippi Stinger

Harmonica Microphone
Crafted for 'Blind Mississippi Morris'
Memphis, Tennessee

5/25/07


Hey Morris and Melody,

I want to start a story here for y'all.  It might take a while, so have a seat.

It sorta starts with this Mulberry tree.

Ted Crocker USA Custom Guitars

It's next door, and if you look close, it's a mere memory of the tree it was before a storm knocked it down a few years back. It used to stand tall and proud and was almost 2 feet across.  
Anyway, some of what they cut up with a chainsaw to haul away is still around.  Like this little log.

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A while back that log called out to me to be saved from the chipper or a fireplace.  Well, lately, it started calling to me with Morris' voice.  Actually his harp voice, to be exact.  It whispered to me "I am the Mississippi Stinger!".

Now, you know me and I learned a long time ago to listen to what the wood has to say. 
This morning it told me to remove all the sawdust that isn't a microphone and get it into Morris' hands. 
So I had no choice but to listen.  I chopped a chunk off and removed everything that Morris won't hold in his hands.

And this is what was inside the log.

Ted Crocker USA Custom Guitars

Then I sat a while and got to know it.  At first I thought that what was left might be too rustic.  There's a crack in the wood.  A big crack that would send any other piece of wood to the woodpile. 

But the wood said Morris would love having it in his hands.  Another voice (the same one, but with a fake accent) said to burn some circles and I did and it looks like a bumblebee tail.  I ain't never felt one, but it probably has texture to it like a bumblebee tail. 

This piece of wood told me that Morris would dig having something tactile like it.  The voice told me that Morris can hear music through his hands, and I can't argue.

The voice was a little louder and prouder as the wood shouted, "I AM THE MISSISSIPPI STINGER".

Now we get to the point of the story where Morris adds his two cents.  First, this morning my neighbor asked me if I ever did anything with the log, and that kicked my butt to show him what I can do to liberate what was hiding inside the log.  Second, the next chop from the log is actually saying to me, "that was practice, the Mississippi Stinger is inside me" so I might just start from scratch another morning when I'm not hung over from Thursday Jam Night.

So, here we sit, and now that next chunk wants to hear what Morris wants to see in a mic.  And the voice inside me wants to know what Morris wants to hear.  The voice wants to know if a bullet is the right size and shape 'cause the wood wants all the sawdust off to be just what Morris wants. 

Don't blame me, it's the wood...

I'm wondering if he likes the sound of a mag/res element like a Bullet, or a crystal like a JT-30 or something really grungy like the CB radio element in the one I made for Jawbone some years back.  I have a few of each in stock.  I also have a secret recipe of tricks I use to get some mud in the tone that are off limits to my camera....

Mizmo, ask Morris if it's OK for me to listen to the voices and make this for him, and ask what kind of flavor he likes. 

Tell him it's not really me asking, but it's the Mississippi Stinger calling out to us from inside a log.


- - - - - - - - - -

UPDATE
5/26/07


It turns out the crack in the Stinger was just too big for me to work around.  So I listened to the other chunk and exposed what was hidden inside.  She's a beauty!


The Mississippi Stinger

Ted Crocker USA Custom Guitars

I installed a crystal element.  No real reason, but maybe it's a little different than the flavor of tone Morris has now.  I gave it a few test licks and she drips some delta mud.

Ted Crocker USA Custom Guitars

I have a few things that I do inside to get a grittier sound than just the virgin element.  Those tricks are Top Secret, but the frequency response is about 20 to 6kHz, about the same as a bullet.  
The face is a piece of a Tweed speaker cover from an old TV someone put out for trash many years ago.

Ted Crocker USA Custom Guitars

There's still a few things to do before I get it into Morris' hands, but I think I'm done for today.  Tomorrow we're setting up the band outside for a big Memorial Day bash and I'll run the Mississippi Stinger through its paces and see if it catches fire.



- - - - - - - - - -

UPDATE
5/27/07



I sat with the Stinger and some sandpaper for a few hours last night with my eyes closed and got it smooooth.  There's still a lot of texture, but I finished it so the wood has a voice Morris will like to hear.  Then I plugged in and tried to set off the smoke detector.  I think Me & the Stinger came close...
Today I swapped out a capacitor to get a deeper voice.  Plus I wrapped up all the loose ends and now I'm just waiting for a shipping address.  Wait, I was wrong, tomorrow is the big bash at Club Ted so when Morris gets it she'll be used and abused.


Here she is (she lives in a handmade case)

Ted Crocker USA Custom Guitars

Ted Crocker USA Custom Guitars


And in case anyone wondered if Taxi donated anything for mojo,

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he gave up a head feather!


Ted Crocker USA Custom Guitars Mississippi Stinger
I added Morris' name in Braille to the top of the box.
 



 I gotta chuckle, 2 days ago this was a log in the woodpile,
and today she sings...

(the chunk of wood in all the pics is from the same log)





Morris, Taxi and I crafted this with a lot of love and respect.
We hope that the Mississippi Stinger provides a special satisfaction and inspiration for years and years. 

GOOD LUCK Morris, treat her right

and make her wail!!

Ted






UPDATE

I received this from Melody:


"Ted,

Well, we went to the Blues Jam for the Memphis Blues Society at Neil's last night for Morris to try out the Mississippi Stinger.

You talk about a sound!!!!! Wow! Morris loves the mic!!

I don't know how many folks came up to him after he played and asked him what kind of mic he was using.
Ted, I think we talked to some potential customers for you last night.

Some of the Tweediots said that they had seen the pics, and they liked the sound too.

It was a great time!  Donald 'Duck' Dunn sat in for a few numbers with the guys.


I've got a feeling that the Mississippi Stinger will be a staple with Morris.

Thanks again, Ted!!!

Melody"







...and that folks, is what it's all about...

Ted





UPDATE

I received some photos from Billy, Cathy and Danny Horton shot at the Memphis Blues Society Jam at Neils.

Blind Mississippi Morris showing 'em how it's done with the Mississippi Stinger!



Ted Crocker USA Custom Guitars Mississippi Stinger          Ted Crocker USA Custom Guitars Mississippi Stinger



Ted Crocker USA Custom Guitars Mississippi Stinger          Ted Crocker USA Guitars Mississippi Stinger






I feel all warm and fuzzy...




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Start imagining what Ted Crocker can create for you...


contact ted@tedcrocker.com
 
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