Crafted for 'Blind Mississippi Morris'
Hey Morris and Melody,
I want to start a story here for y'all. It might take a while, so have a seat.
It sorta starts with this Mulberry tree.
It's next door, and if you look close, it's a mere memory of the tree
it was before a storm knocked it down a few years back. It used to
stand tall and proud and was almost 2 feet across.
Anyway, some of what they cut up
with a chainsaw to haul away is still around. Like this little
A while back that log called out to me to be saved from the chipper or
a fireplace. Well, lately, it started calling to me with Morris'
voice. Actually his harp voice, to be exact. It whispered
to me "I am the Mississippi Stinger!".
Now, you know me and I learned a long time ago to listen to what the wood has to say.
This morning it told me to remove all the sawdust that isn't a microphone and get it into Morris' hands.
So I had no choice but to listen. I chopped a chunk off and removed everything that Morris won't hold in his hands.
And this is what was inside the log.
Then I sat a while and got to know it. At first I thought that
what was left might be too rustic. There's a crack in the
wood. A big crack that would send any other piece of wood to the
But the wood said Morris would love having it in his hands.
Another voice (the same one, but with a fake accent) said to burn some
circles and I did and it looks like a bumblebee tail. I ain't
never felt one, but it probably has texture to it like a bumblebee
This piece of wood told me that Morris would dig having something
tactile like it. The voice told me that Morris can hear music
through his hands, and I can't argue.
The voice was a little louder and prouder as the wood shouted, "I AM THE MISSISSIPPI STINGER".
Now we get to the point of the story where Morris adds his two
cents. First, this morning my neighbor asked me if I ever did
anything with the log, and that kicked my butt to show him what I can
do to liberate what was hiding inside the log. Second, the next
chop from the log is actually saying to me, "that was practice, the
Mississippi Stinger is inside me" so I might just start from scratch
another morning when I'm not hung over from Thursday Jam Night.
So, here we sit, and now that next chunk wants to hear what Morris
wants to see in a mic. And the voice inside me wants to know what
Morris wants to hear. The voice wants to know if a bullet is the
right size and shape 'cause the wood wants all the sawdust off to be
just what Morris wants.
Don't blame me, it's the wood...
I'm wondering if he likes the sound of a mag/res element like a Bullet,
or a crystal like a JT-30 or something really grungy like the CB radio
element in the one I made for Jawbone
some years back. I have a few of each in stock. I also have
a secret recipe of tricks I use to get some mud in the tone that are
off limits to my camera....
Mizmo, ask Morris if it's OK for me to listen to the voices and make this for him, and ask what kind of flavor he likes.
Tell him it's not really me asking, but it's the Mississippi Stinger calling out to us from inside a log.
- - - - - - - - - -
It turns out the crack in the Stinger was just too big for me to work
around. So I listened to the other chunk and exposed what was
hidden inside. She's a beauty!
The Mississippi Stinger
I installed a crystal element. No real reason, but maybe it's a
little different than the flavor of tone Morris has now. I gave
it a few test licks and she drips some delta mud.
I have a few things that I do inside to get a grittier sound than just
the virgin element. Those tricks are Top Secret, but the
frequency response is about 20 to 6kHz, about the same as a
The face is a piece of a Tweed speaker cover from an old TV someone put out for trash many years ago.
There's still a few things to do before I get it into Morris' hands,
but I think I'm done for today. Tomorrow we're setting up the
band outside for a big Memorial Day bash and I'll run the Mississippi
Stinger through its paces and see if it catches fire.
- - - - - - - - - -
I sat with the Stinger and some sandpaper for a few hours last night
with my eyes closed and got it smooooth. There's still a lot of
texture, but I finished it so the wood has a voice Morris will like to
hear. Then I plugged in and tried to set off the smoke
detector. I think Me & the Stinger came close...
Today I swapped out a capacitor to get a deeper voice. Plus I
wrapped up all the loose ends and now I'm just waiting for a shipping
address. Wait, I was wrong, tomorrow is the big bash at Club Ted
so when Morris gets it she'll be used and abused.
Here she is (she lives in a handmade case)
And in case anyone wondered if Taxi donated anything for mojo,
he gave up a head feather!
I added Morris' name in Braille to the top of the box.
I gotta chuckle, 2 days ago this was a log in the woodpile,
and today she sings...
(the chunk of wood in all the pics is from the same log)
Morris, Taxi and I crafted this with a lot of love and respect.
We hope that the Mississippi Stinger provides a special satisfaction and inspiration for years and years.
GOOD LUCK Morris, treat her right
and make her wail!!
- - - - - - - - - -
I received this from Melody:
"Ted, Well, we went to the Blues Jam for the Memphis Blues Society at Neil's last night for Morris to try out the Mississippi Stinger.
You talk about a sound!!!!! Wow! Morris loves the mic!!
I don't know how many folks came up to him after he played and asked him what kind of mic he was using.
Ted, I think we talked to some potential customers for you last night.
Some of the Tweediots said that they had seen the pics, and they liked the sound too.
It was a great time! Donald 'Duck' Dunn sat in for a few numbers with the guys.
I've got a feeling that the Mississippi Stinger will be a staple with Morris.
Thanks again, Ted!!!
...and that folks, is what it's all about...
I received some photos from Billy, Cathy and Danny Horton shot at the Memphis Blues Society Jam at Neils.
Blind Mississippi Morris showing 'em how it's done with the Mississippi Stinger!
I feel all warm and fuzzy...