Homegrown Music: Stereo System Upgrade and Independent Music

This installment of a recurring homegrown music column presents a couple inexpensive ways to upgrade a stereo system and lists a half-dozen or so sources of independent music.

| November/December 1979

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    Marc Bristol and other Washington State grassroots musicians posing with the instruments (except the guy with the ax) they use to perform homegrown music.

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Even homesteaders need to relax and enjoy themselves from time to time, right? And almost everybody these days wants to cut his or her cost of living. So how about a little do-it-yourself entertainment?

That's what this column is about. Homegrown music... and sometimes homemade musical instruments to play it on.

Affordable Stereo System Upgrade

You say your homestead's sound system is made up of a bargain basement transistor radio and a portable cassette player, but that you daydream of owning a big-bucks stereo setup? Well sir, I can't work miracles, but I can tell you how—for little or no money—you can get your inexpensive "music makers" to put out "big system" sound!

The simple fact is that most portable radios and recorders are capable of much more accurate sound reproduction than their small speakers can deliver. So... all you have to do to bring the little electronic marvels "up to snuff" is hook 'em to high-fidelity speakers!

Just what do I mean by "high-fidelity speakers"—and how much will it cost? Well, I'm talking about the speakers that used to be standard features on most large black-and-white television sets (they were usually covered by a big grille cloth and positioned on the bottom of the TV's cabinet). The old picture boxes have given up the ghost for the most part, so a trip to the dump (or a "broken televisions hauled away free" ad) should turn up all of the no-cost speakers you'll need!

In order to evaluate your bounty of recycled speakers, however, you'll have to make a special cord with which to to test (and use) them. You'll need four to six feet of speaker wire (available at stereo shops or hardware stores for about 10¢ per foot), a small "plug" (this can be found in electronic parts stores. Be sure to buy the right size to fit the earphone jack of your radio or tape player), and a pair of alligator clips (pick 'em up when you buy the plug). Simply connect the plug to one end of the twin wire, and fasten the two clips—one to each wire—at the other end. (If you don't want to solder the parts in place, you can buy both the clips and the plug with screw-type connections.)

With your test cord made, you're ready to try out some speakers. First, either remove the "sounders" from the old TV cabinet, or leave 'em in and take out the rest of the television's "guts." (Whether you want to use the speakers in their original cabinet or not, be especially careful when handling or working near the picture tube. Such components are under considerable pressure and can implode dangerously.) Then just use your wire to connect a portable radio or cassette player's earphone jack to the two terminals on the back of the speaker itself, and be prepared to be "blown away" by the power and range of the sounds your little set will suddenly be capable of producing!

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