Ohmslaw Masthead

Building a Stomp Box

Pete wanted me to build him a Stomp Box. I had no idea what a Stomp box was so google to the rescue.

What Pete wanted is the sort of stomp box used by country musos as a sort of bass instrument.

Googling the stomp box is interesting as effects pedals are also referred to as stomp boxes. I did find these interesting references.

So first step was to build a prototype. The design brief was a stomp box that could be acoustic or miked up, ultimately with a mike that was internal and had a jack attached. It had to be not too high, and small and light. Ideally suited to Pete’s style of a snare and a stomp box at a gig.

Prototype One

The first prototype was made with ply and a top and bottom of 8mm manufactured wood. Not sure exactly what sort, just something that had been hiding in my basement for a few years.

The prototype has not survived as we recycled its components. Playing with the prototype we learned that having a sound hole made a big difference to the sound. Miking up with the mikes that we had we found that we could achieve both an acoustic and a miked sound. The mikes we had to play with suggested that the stomp box would need a lot of EQ. Without a mixing desk of some type this was a little hard to experiment with.

The thing that seemed not to work, was that the top was too thick and so the box picked up stomping, but didn’t have any resonance. The timbre of the sound was a dull blam sort of noise.

Having made prototype 1 and played with it a bit we drank some beer, and ate pizza.

Prototype Two

The second prototype was made with higher sides. The top and bottom were made with some recycled timber that we found on the side of the road. The top was 6mm soild timber. Possibly beach. The bottom was 3mm ply. the sides 19x140mm pine.

StompBox 1 (1).jpg Laying outLaying out Tral fitting the topTral fitting the top

This box made a nice sound but it is rather high to rest ones foot on. This box was all butt joints, the box was screwed together, no glue was used. Well a little on the top. This was great for a quick prototype but it gave some annoying buzzes when played like a cajon.

The lessons learned from stomp box number 2 was that a good top and bottom helped to make the stomp box resonate and made for a nicer sound. The question was did the better sound that we got result from the top and bottom ‘skins’ or was it simply from the volume enclosed by the box, or a combination of the two. The second lesson was to glue everything to eliminate buzzing noises and hopefully to have a skin that resonates nicely.

Having completed box number 2 we stopped, played with it and drank some beer.

This success lead to Stomp Box number 3. This was going to be made to a high standard, out of better quality materials. Number Three was going to be lower than the height of prototype 2.

Gluing top of SB2Gluing top of SB2

Stomp Box 3

Stomp box 3 is made out of Jarra and Hoop pine ply. Rather than simple but joints and screws we decided to make the box using rebates and glue, no screws or nails.

Construction DetailsConstruction Details

First step was to rebate the Jarra for the ply top and bottom. Note that Jarra has rather nasty silica dust. Make sure you are wearing dust protection and of course hearing protection if you decide to make a box like this.

Routing the rebateRouting the rebate

Then we stopped and drank some beer.

After that the sides were cut and a sound hole bored with a brace and bit. Note this is a very slow process in hard timber like Jarra.

So we stopped and drank some beer.

The cut peicesThe cut peices

Next we rebated the ends of the stomp box. This picture shows the jig that we used to cut the rebate.

Rebate jigRebate jig Rebate jigRebate jig

Now the box was ready to be assembled, pictures show first dry assembly and then the lash up of clamps to clamp the box whilst gluing.

Dry fittingDry fitting Glueing UpGlueing Up

So we glued up the stomp box, and then we stopped and had some beer.

Next day

Next day Pete was hung over. The life of a muso is very hard! Excitedly I ripped off all the cramps and a box emerged. Weirdly what had seemed light, now was extrodinarily heavy. I am sure that the weight hadne’t changed but somehow 4 bits of wood glued together seemed much heavier that the four held in a pile.

The top and botom were cut and fitted from 6mm ply. Then I glued up just the top, as we are leaving the bottom loose so that we can mike this puppy.

With a tight fitting top, the box already sounds good.

The shellThe shell Gluing the top skinGluing the top skin Sanding the completed boxSanding the completed box Finshed boxFinshed box Applying finishApplying finish


After the glue had dried, I removed the clamps. Sanded the box as the rebates had deliberatly been left proud. Final machine sand with 120 grit. Then I used a 8mm rounding over bit to provide a radius to all edges.

The box could easily stand some fine sanding to product a fantastic finish but this is a box that sits on the floor and is stomped on by a boot. Super fine finishing would be missaplied (pardon the pun).

So now the box is finished.

Time to take it for a play, and of course drink some beer.

The plan is to make recordings with different mikes and have them here so that you can listen to the different sounds. For the record the AKG D112 sounded best, not tat surprizing as this is a base drum mike.

MobileMe Photo_ Stomp Box.jpg Radio Shack PZMRadio Shack PZM Shure SM57Shure SM57 AKG D112 MikeAKG D112 Mike MXL 1006BP ...MXL 1006BP ...

Pete applied another coat of Danish Oil but not before rubber feet had been added to each corner. the feet keep the bottom attached, and provide seperation from the floor. The bottom is loose fitted until we can attach a pizeo pickup.

And then we waterd the lemon tree, AKA drank some beer.

Created: 28/Apr/2009 - 06:26 PM Last updated: 2/May/2009 - 10:10 PM