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My home made funky fingers

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by andruca, Sep 15, 2004.

  1. andruca


    Mar 31, 2004
    Madrid (Spain)
    Hi, I don't know where should I post this thread as threads related to funky fingers don't seem to be in a specific forum so if this doesn't belong here, I'll appreciate any moderator moves it.

    As Tony Levin's Funky Fingers aren't manufactured anymore and I've been wanting a pair for quite some years, I decided to put it into action and build my own. So, last friday I asked my band's drummer to give me some broken drumsticks (I don't know why they keep them, broken drumsticks are basically trash, but they keep them, and this time it was a good thing for me). On saturday, as I was waiting for sunday to come and fly from Madrid to Manchester to watch my very first RUSH concert (waited for 15 long years) I faced the construction of my Funky Fingers. It takes no longer than an hour (I did mine -2 pairs- in no longer than an hour and a half). This is a very simple step by step guide to building yours. They are not as the official ones and the quality of manufacture is obviously poorer but at the same time they sure work fine and it's nice to use something done by our own hands, isn't it? There we go then...

    The materials: some of your drummer's broken sticks, 6" of wide elastic strap.
    The tools: a saw, a grinder (or even a cutter -this requieres more patience-), a sewing machine (or good sewing skills -as manually sewing an elastic strap is no joke-), some sand paper.

    Step-by-step (each point corresponds with a photo)...

    1) Chose two identical drumsticks from your drummer. They don't have to be in good condition, in fact they can be broken. We only need the last 6-8" from the "non hitting" part of the stick. Also, in your drumstick selection, consider weight and thickness. I chosed the lightest and thinnest he had (5A) and I see it now as a good choice 'cause your fingers will suffer if they're too heavy and playing can be uncomfortable if they are too thick. Once chosen, cut the afore mentioned 6-8" from the back end of the each drumstick (length depends on your playing position and/or fingers' length, and even both sticks may be different lengths, just experiment to find out -mine are the same length but I didn't try any other option-).

    2) With a grinder or some similar tool (even with a cutter) waste off one of the ends of each "mini-stick", so that you leave half of the stick's thickness (a semi-circle). This part is where the finger is going to rest so sand it in order to have it very smooth on your fingertips. In my case I grinded a longer route in the stick on finger 2 (about 1/5" more) so I cannot use either on either finger as their length is rather dispair, but maybe this isn't your case and you can grind them up to the same length. After grinding you may need to sand the whole stick just for finishing purposes (I did, but also to remove sticks' printed brand and the light satin finish in the wood -left them totally unfinished and very smooth-). Also if your sticks aren't as thinner as you'd like, prior to grinding them you should sand them to the desired thickness.

    3) At the back of the grinded part make very litle cuts with a saw. The purpose of this is to leave the surface a little rough and not smooth at all. This will prevent the elastic strap from sliding while we're playing.

    4) Use a wide enough elastic strap and cut 2 - 3 inches (depending on your fingers' thickness) for each finger.

    5) With the sewing machine, join both ends of the elastic strap so that it becomes a "tube".

    6) Turn it round so that it looks better (the sewed part inside the "tube").

    Putting on your Funky Fingers...

    7) You should first put on the strap on your finger, avoiding it to lock your second articulation.

    8/9) Then you must insert the stick in the elastic strap until you reach the end of the grinded part with your fingertip. The little cuts on the lower face of the stick help avoiding the elastic strap of slipping. This realy works because I've been playing for an hour and they didn't even move.

    10) They also look good!!!

    11) Contrary to what I would suspect before, playing with them is easier than I thought.

    12) To store these FF (and in order for the elastic straps not to get lost) I suggest you wrap each of them around both ends of the sticks.

    One more suggestion. The elastic straps have to be sewed in an exact point to allow playing without cutting the blood flow of our fingers, but they have to be tight enough for the sticks not to fall. This balance may take several tries to find the correct tension of the elastic straps.

    Some more tips. I had some trouble finding the right sound on my Stingray 5 and it was due to very low action. On the other hand, I played with them yesterday on my Fernandes Gravity (same kind of low action setup) and it sounded ok at the first try with no setup needed, so be aware, your bass may need setup for using Funk Fingers. If you'd like to keep your low action, you'll probably have to play very close to the bridge and this gets really difficult, specially with the pointing finger). If there's no way to avoid fret buzz and/or hitting pole pieces, then a re-setup on your bass is mandatory. The other problem (for me, maybe not for you) was to avoid the sticks from hitting each other as I played (mostly in faster chops). I have to be very careful (although this may only apply to just a few of you, or maybe it's just me and some defficiencies on my playing). Also important, as control on the sticks maybe a little difficult (at least in the beginning), be sure to use enough compression.

    Well, that's it. I know it is easy and I know that maybe some of you already thought about a similar way, but I decided to put it into photos to encourage you to build your own. If I (not precisely a hand work gifted guy) could do it, anyone can.

    Take care...

    P/D: Once again, forgive my poor english and if there's something you don't understand, please, let me know so I make it clearer or more understandable. I also apologize for the poor quality of the photos, hope they're clear enough.

    By the way, If you're not familiar with what the Funk Fingers are and what they do, visit http://www.papabear.com/pbtlff.htm. Basically they're sticks to play bass producing extremely percussive sounds but there's a lot more to it so be sure to check out the link.

    Stay tuned 'cause maybe (just maybe) I'm putting some rubber covers on my Funk Fingers' ends to achieve a warmer sound. I'll let you know how it turns out.
  2. mz91


    Apr 19, 2002
    Zug, Switzerland

    What a really nicely organised and informative post!

    Thanks a bunch!

  3. FireAarro


    Aug 8, 2004
    Umm, sorry for being ignorant, but what do they do?
  4. andruca


    Mar 31, 2004
    Madrid (Spain)
  5. Yeah, I've been making those for people for years...practically the same as yours, except I use a cove bit on an R8 router table and a jig setup to make a curve-bottom bed so it feels more natural on the finger.

    Don't get "plastic covers", just buy a can of liquid tool grip and dip them in that.
  6. andruca


    Mar 31, 2004
    Madrid (Spain)
    Mon Rominee, nice suggestion. I hope I can easily find some of that liquid rubber. The curved routing is something I thought of but was totally out of my reach so maybe I'll try to do it with sandpaper and a little tube. Thanks so much for the ideas!

  7. You're 100% welcome! I love when people are into using these things. They're so fun. I've made about 20 pairs (admittedly, alot of prototypes for me v:O) from sticks my drummer has thrown out.

    Yeah, the round bottom bit thing is a bit scary to do, as the stick is only so big...so please use caution if you ever try that... your method may just work quite nicely. You could even get sticky-back sandpaper, and use the other drumstick to make your sanding more consistent.... voila! No extra tools.
  8. HeavyDuty

    HeavyDuty Supporting Curmudgeon Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2000
    Suburban Chicago, IL
    Hmmm... tough one. Misc, maybe? Moved.
  9. andruca


    Mar 31, 2004
    Madrid (Spain)
    Ok HeavyDuty! Thanks so much!

    MonRominee, please, let me know of some brand of that liquid tool grip. 'Cause I've been at a bricolage mega-store and there was no such thing. Also the only liquid rubber available was for fixing and sealing of roofs (for use instead of asphalt). I think it has to be a liquid rubber for molding but there wasn't such a thing. I'll try first with a 2 or 3 very thin layers of a silicone thing I've got at home. Anyway, just let me know of some brand, ok? Thank you so much.

  10. mr e

    mr e

    Nov 17, 2003
  11. I'll look when I get home, but there's another brand right there. same thing really.
  12. andruca


    Mar 31, 2004
    Madrid (Spain)
    I'm affraid Plasti Dip isn't importe here in Spain so I'll have to buy it via the internet. Thanks so much Mr E!!!

  13. DigMe


    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    I made some once out of broken pencils, rubber bands, tacks and two banjo clawhammers. I know that recipe is pretty ghetto but they worked really well.

    Tony has said that regular drumsticks ended up being too heavy and that they would break a string or fly off of his fingers. I think he said that the best kind of sticks ended up being those percussion sticks that are thin and just rounded on both sides with no tip like drumsticks have.

    brad cook
  14. andruca


    Mar 31, 2004
    Madrid (Spain)
    OK, I found a Plasti Dip distributor in the UK so I guess I'm ordering there. The thing is I'm thinking of lots of uses for this product now, and as the shipping is more than the cost of the product itself I'll order a couple cans to make it worth it. Thanks so much...

  15. andruca


    Mar 31, 2004
    Madrid (Spain)
    Nice idea DigMe! I'm also thinking of a thinner (also lighter) version. Take care...

  16. phxlbrmpf


    Dec 27, 2002
    Bumping this thread because I might just try to make me some. Do you think I could also use chopsticks, or do you think they're too thin?

    If I think about it, they probably are.
  17. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    They'd probably break if you really started going at 'em. I'm considering picking up a pair of really light sticks to try this myself. Very neat!
  18. If you had a proper bit (a nice sharp brad-point), you could hollow out the middle of a drum stick from the end in, say like a 2 or a 5 size stick. I use 7's as they are reasonably light on their own (and that's what I get freebie from my drummer's casualties), and fit like an extension of the finger. But if you hollow the center (which isn't hard, like I said, with the right bit) it'll substantially lighten the load.

    And the tool grip does well with taking a bit of the "clack" off the hit, and doesn't really add much weight.
  19. Jerry Ziarko

    Jerry Ziarko Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Rochester, NY
    This is a picture of the originals made by Tony Levin for anyone interrested.

    a2_1.jpg (23.4 KB)