Around 1999 I played with my guitar and a small amplifier kit. I stuck the loudspeaker to the guitar's body and created crazy feedback. The sound you hear in the MP3 was an experiment with my bass... I then used that trick in some of my demos around 2000 to get "weird sustain" !

The system is simple :

  1. Connect your guitar to some pedals or effects. Reverb/echo/delay and distorsion are best.
  2. Connect the effect to a small amplifier that drives a small/medium loudspeaker.
  3. Stick the loudspeaker to your guitar/bass.
  4. Play with effects settings to get the sustain you want.

There is a loop with an electrical amplification and a mechanical feedback. This creates an oscillator, where the player can control the gain and frequency at will. You can record the sound from any point in the loop : at the pickup output, at the effects' output, or an external microphone, or even all of them and then mix later :-)

The Whygeephone is an integrated, more portable version of the above circuit.

It reuses the case of a volume (or wah-wah) pedal and integrates a small power amplifier. Actually, the Whygeephone is a foot-controlled medium-power amplifier...

Its name is a nod to the famous Gaffophone created by famous Belgian comics author Franquin. This instruments, build by his character Gaston, is like an evil doomsday device that wreaks havoc any time it is barely stimulated...

But I'm not Gaston Lagaffe and my nickname is Whygee :-)

The amplifier part is not hard. It's a classic mono integrated BTL (not Bacon-Tomato-Lettuce, but Bridge Tied Load) for maximum  power efficiency, and reduced dissipation. No need to go for super-high-fidelity circuit but a very large capacitance must filter the parasites from the mains power supply. Well, they say "the buzz is part of rock'n'roll" anyway...

The hard part is the casing. This is why I chose basic/cheap volume pedals. With a plastic injection-molded case, heat generation becomes a problem but plastic is easy to cut/drill/glue... I can also drill vents to help with the heat.

Maybe I should try a more recent class-D amplifier to reduce the heat.

Why isn't the Whygeephone more used ? Because it requires modifications to the guitar.

Usually I rewire the pickups to select series/parallel configuration and one pickup's phase can also be reversed (the wires are swapped). With 2 or 3 clicks I can find the setting that brings the most feedback, or dampen it.

The other modification is to securely fix the loudspeaker to the guitar's body. I initially used 2-sided sticky tape but it's not reliable for obvious reasons. So I bought a guitar for the specific purpose of drilling holes and screwing the loudspeaker.

Yes I did the unthinkable... But it's worth it :-D