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Paul Ridden

Marine Feature

Groundbreaking underwater exploration craft nears production

Ornithorhynchus anatinus is a bizarre creature. Not only due to its crazy duck, beaver and otter mash-up anatomy, but because it inhabits two watery worlds – one at the surface of small streams or rivers and the other below. When François-Alexandre Bertrand saw one sploshing about during a séjour in Australia, he'd found the perfect name for an above/below water craft concept he was mulling over. Design renderings for the Platypus emerged in 2011, followed by a working prototype two years later and a production timeframe set for 2014. It's taken a little longer than expected to get there, but the Platypus team is finally bringing the novel exploration craft to market later this year. We popped down to the south coast of France a few days ago to talk new design and production plans. And to ride on, and under, the surprisingly chilly waters of the Mediterranean.Read More

Fender wraps Blues Junior amp in a whiskey barrel

Blues music and whiskey go together like guitars and amps. Some of the best tunes to come out of post-war Chicago have the golden nectar flowing through their veins. If your stage presence needs some smoky authenticity to go with your smokin' licks, Fender has announced a limited release of its Blues Junior combo amp that's encased in reclaimed bourbon barrels. Read More

Music

Sneaker hack puts a wah in your step

Three years ago, Converse celebrated the launch of its new Google+ page with a challenge to hack its iconic All Star sneakers. Among the many weird and wonderful entries was a pair from design agency Critical Mass called the Chet Atkins All Wah. Like the Ghost Pedal from students at Purdue, the hacked sneakers could be used to add a wah effect to a plugged in guitar. Now the design has been updated for the wireless age courtesy of wearable tech fashion outfit Cute Circuit and called simply the All Wah.Read More

Music

The new beatbox: Cardboard drumkit puts a basher on your back

Cardboard. As we've already demonstrated, it's not just for packaging. Signal Snowboards, Earnest Packaging and Fender Custom Shop added to that list of clever uses last year with a one-off Stratocaster that sounded much better than it looked. Now French startup Obilab is introducing a new member to the band in the shape of a cardboard drum kit that collapses down to be carried like a backpack between gigs.Read More

Music

Hand-made guitar dials in MIDI effects with the wave of a hand

Electric guitars that have MIDI control cooked in aren't exactly a new idea, as evidenced by the now up for pre-order Expressiv Infinity Guitar. Heck, even acoustic guitars are muscling into MIDI territory courtesy of the upcoming ACPAD controller. But controlling effects by waving a hand in front of a laser isn't something you see every day. That's precisely what's on offer with one of the three new hand-made Drop guitars from Lithuania's Lava.Read More

Your custom Fender guitar is now just a few clicks away

Fender has introduced an online tool that allows musicians to customize a new build to match their individual needs, and then have it built and shipped out within a month. Players can choose from a Telecaster or Stratocaster six-string or a Precision or Jazz four-string, and then dive into more than 70,000 design options available across the Fender Mod Shop suite for an instrument tailored to their own look, feel and sound requirements.Read More

Music

Optoma gives NuForce BT buds a performance boost, extended play

Though last year's BE6 Bluetooth earphones were targeted at mobile music lovers who value supreme sonic quality, we found a somewhat lackluster low end delivery marred an otherwise surprisingly unBluetooth-like performance. They were not the most comfortable ear candy we've pushed down our canals either, and play time between charges fell slightly short of expectations. Was Optoma taking notes? The new BE6i earphones are reported to boast improved audio performance, a better fit, and extended battery life. And they're also water-resistant. Read More

Electronics

Elex Pipe takes circuit building off the board

Though we use all manner of electronic gadgetry every day, few of us know what makes them tick. Learning about electronics and programming can be tough though and, let's face it, a little dry. A number of startups have made efforts to spice the learning process up recently – making use of robots, modules and micro labs to make experimentation fun and accessible. The latest to join the crowd is Mad Tatu with a circuit building system that rises up from the table top for 3D projects that look like a crazy plumber has turned his hand to teaching. Read More

Music

Matchstick guitar strikes the right chord

When I was younger and had a lot more time on my hands, I collected thousands of spent matches from friends and family, glued them together and formed such delights as a windmill, race car and thatched cottage with matchstick picket fence. Okay, not quite as impressive as a scale model of the International Space Station, but it kept me out of trouble. Mostly. Ex-military man and accomplished luthier Dean Fraser from Chorley in Lancashire, UK, has spent the last couple of years up to his ears in sticks and glue to create the stunning 1954 Fender Stratocaster tribute guitar you can see above.Read More

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