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Summary

Hack a day has an excellent “Intro to Circuit Bending”. Their article combined with some previous coverage and pages of MAKE will allow you to make incredible retro, blippy, noise :)

Electronic musical instruments are a lot of fun for a hacker because, with a small palette of tools, know-how and curiosity, they are easily modified. As with any hack, there is always the chance that the subject will be ruined, so it’s not necessarily worth the risk to muck about inside your thousand-dollar pro synthesizer. Luckily for all of us, there are shovel-fulls of old electronic musical toys littering the curbs and second-hand shops of the world. These fun little devices provide ample opportunity to get familiar with audio electronics and circuit bending techniques.

A note on definitions: the term “circuit bending” can be synonymous with “hardware hacking” in the world of audio electronics, and we have seen some debate as to which term is better suited to a given project. We welcome you to share your viewpoints in the comments. Keep reading to get started.

More:

Flashback: Circuit Bending

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Love weird sounds and curious about circuit bending? Check out this blast from the past: MAKE Volume 04‘s Circuit Bending project by Cristiana Yambo and Sabastian Boaz. This 12-page how-to shows you how to modify a Casio keyboard (they used the SK-5):

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And make this “unstoppably flexible sound organ and sonic effects generator” setup, ready to crank out some Franken-beats (above the keyboard on the right is the patch bay box and on the left is external controller port):

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The best part is that you can take what you learn in this project and bend just about any battery-powered audio toy or musical instrument. This cool illustration (full-sized in Digital Edition link below) shows how you can play open circuits to test out what sounds your device is capable of making:

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Check out the full article in our Digital Edition and for more, pick up a copy of MAKE Volume 04 in the Maker Shed and learn how to make a cigar box guitar, a mint-tin amp, use your Game Boy as a musical instrument, start VJing, and more. Long live bleeps!