The Latest in Guitar Prosthetics!

Ever wish your finger was a little bit longer?

Ever wish your finger was a little bit longer?

I just procured some clever new gizmos designed to help unfortunate players who were born without 12-inch fingers and five-foot arms.

First up: The VKnob from Option Knob, an angled plastic lever that replaces standard volume and tone knobs. It’s worth investigating if you’re interested in pedal steel-style swells, “manual tremolo,” or wah-flavored tone-knob manipulation. There’s a half-inch notch in the lever, perfectly position for resting your picking-hand pinky and spinning the knob without having to stray too far from the springs. It takes getting used to, and it may collide with some whammy bars, but it’ll be a cool solution for many players. FWIW, I tend to play fingerstyle, and I’m accustomed to spinning knobs with my pinky while picking strings with my thumb. Even so, the VKnob makes the technique easier, and it may be a godsend for pickstyle players. (Price: US $13.)

Option Knob also created the OKnob, a Y-shaped replacement knob for stompboxes. It lets you manipulate pedal knobs by “kicking” the OKnob’s arms or resting your foot in the fork where they meet. I’ve enjoyed using OKnobs to control the cutoff frequency on filter-type effects, especially when playing The World’s Nastiest Stompbox™. Like so:

Uglyface Demo

But now the OKnob has competition in the form of the KickDisk, a circular, clear plastic replacement knob.

The OKnob (left) and KickDisk (right).

The OKnob (left) and KickDisk (right).

Both knobs work great, and each has its advantages. The OKnob doesn’t force you to position your foot at a specofic altitude, and it looks freaky-cool. But it can be awkward to manipulate from some angles, especially when the arms are positioned north and south. The KickDisk is easier to operate from all angles, and its transparency prevents it from obscuring stompbox LEDs. I like both options. (OKnobs are ten bucks each, or $12 for the glow-in-the-dark model. KickDisks go for $7.50.)

Obviously, your stompboxes must be secured to a pedalboard or other surface, or you’ll just kick everything over. But while knocking pedals over is a drag, it’s not nearly as bad as toppling your laptop. That’s why I was eager to replace the flimsy stools and utility tables I’ve been using for laptop gigs with my band Mental 99.

Don't tread on me.

Don’t tread on me.

There are several stage-worthy laptop stands, though most are tabletop models aimed at laptop-lugging DJs. I opted for the Quik Lok LPH-003, a sturdy metal tripod when a laptop shelf plus an extensible mousepad surface, which works great as a holder for picks, slides, EBows, and street drugs.

The LPH-003 weighs a lot more than my old stands, but it’s far less likely to get knocked over, even by a hyperkinetic klutz like me. Particularly reassuring are the four adjustable, rubber-tipped arms that secure your leptop, even at steeply slanted angles. So far, I’m digging it. I’ll let you know how it works at gigs. (I paid a little under $100 for mine.)

Have any of you tried these? Or can you share info on any other clever, simple, and cheap guitar prosthetics that help you do what you do?

12 comments to The Latest in Guitar Prosthetics!

  • Oinkus

    Always been a fan of the rubber knob covers on my MXR pedals , actually went out and found a couple recently on ebay for almost nothing.Think they have been around since the 70s as far as I can remember. Speed knobs were another “must have”item from that era just to reminisce.

  • I hate where the volume knob is on a Strat, I’m always hitting it when I play. I know it was put there to make it easy to turn while playing, but I end up moving it to the middle spot (who needs to tone controls anyway?) I have long fingers so I can reach the volume knob after I move it, and Im not inadvertently turning down the volume while playing.

    So that thing would make me crazy!

  • The T.I.P. Third Hand looked like it might have been a good idea. It’s a foot treadle with a flexible rotating cable linkage terminating in a cup that can be clamped onto a pot shaft. So you can convert any one control on any pedal effect into a foot treadle control.

    However I’m not sure they are still in production and there seems to be at least one complaint that the build quality was not too good. I guess you could take a Wah Wah housing and add a flexible cable to it.

  • mwseniff

    I use drum stands to mount stuff to for performance [heck if they can stand up to a drummer they will not suffer under my ministrations :-)]. I have a lap steel, Roland SP6 drum pads, bicycle horn, cowbell and a cup holder mounted to one and my electric cello and tambourine mounted to another. They fold up for toting and are very sturdy. I recently got some parts for a drum rack that I intend to use for setting up my stuff in the studio I have one for my drum kit that works well but I don’t like taking it apart and moving it for a gig. I have a small Dunlop stand for my iPod Touch that keeps it handy for use as well. I use those “tv tables” that most people eat dinner in front of their flat screens on. The “tv tables” I use are the heavy wood ones from Menards they are very stable and fold for transport, I have my pedal board sitting on one all the time so I can tweak knobs without aggravating my back problems anymore than avoidable. They are dead cheap compared specifically made for musician items. That laptop stand looks quite useful for me as I plan to use my windows laptop more.
    As for knobs I have scavenged a lot of them off old scientific equipment and got a bunch elsewhere that I used to put on my pedals. I have some over sized chicken head knobs that are easy to operate by foot I got at a ham fest. But I keep all my pedals on the “tv table” so and I have them only6 on a few controls so I can tweak them quickly (like on the positive feed back knob for my Devi Evers Hyperion 2 that makes everything sound like it is freaking out). I do like the kick disk idea a lot and would probably get some if I kept my pedal board on the floor. I have several sheet music stands that are very heavy duty that are used for other purposes I lay one almost flat to put percussion devices on for instance.

  • Sebastian Enriquez

    It reminds me an article of a custom made Tremolo from Makezine: A really curious tremolo pedal that you should try

  • smgear

    well, back in the day, I had been known to play out with my cigarnica holder (cigar wedged next to the harmonica while playing guitar). Wait, what were we talking about?

    I’m all for stage clutter – short tables/stands for gear, etc. I built a pretty cool portable rackmount system for my electric violin setup. It’s about waste high with big back wheels and handles that come up for carting it around. It has my racked effects, an amp, two small speakers that you can leave in the bottom or place on top so I have one feeding my signal and the other the monitor mix (so I can mix my own level) and a space on top for pedalish effects if I want to use them so they’re right at arms level. I always carry extra gaff tape and leukotape (stronger and more pliable and still leaves no residue) so I’ve been known to just tape effects or preamps to the mic stand if need access to the controls. I’m working on a schematic for a blender box which is kind of like a combo preamp, DI, and looper but with pedals (treadles? as in wah/volume – what’s the technical name there?) instead of bypass switches, so it will allow me to blend a couple different wet and dry loops. On and off works pretty well for most guitar effects, but when I’m playing violin, I like full interactive control of the shades. Building an effect over an 8 bar vamp is richly rewarding. 🙂 So if I can get that all figured out, then it will probably let me switch over to a more traditional pedal (as in stomp) setup.

  • NicPic

    the link to the Quicklok thing for the laptop doesn not work

  • NicPic

    all the same…heres one for $39.00 bucks I found…same unit…half of what others ae charging..

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