The Batt-O-Meter and the Can Opener
The Uncontemporaneousness of Events
The origins of Rock’n’Roll are going back to the year 1810. At least the basics of a good tour life and tour supplies were settled in that year: The can was invented. It was tested „tour-proof“ by the British Army in 1813. But how stupid is that: sitting in front of a can for 48 years not knowing what’s inside or how to open it!? But, finally in the year 1858, Robert Yeates has taken the next step to a tour life without worries by inventing the ultimate solution. Tataaaaaa, the can opener is born.
An unacceptable situation for guitar players. Haptic, solving technical problems with hands and fingers, making fire. Ugha-ugha or something like that.
To adhere, to drill, duct-taping the head of the string-crank to a battery-powered drill. Ah! Or, when the sky is the limit and you are calling yourself Jimmy Page: solve the whole thing with a Robo-Guitar! No wonder, scenes from the Old Testament happen in guitar corners of any backstage area – and I am not talking about Onan, deprived of his name, or Lot. Both motives that just rock in a four-color-printing, flocked to black shirts.
But back to the topic. A 10.000 Euro equipment like most of the guitar players, but a 99 Cent Meola-battery from the discounter, with the correspondent given-name, ruins your gig.
At least since the invention of the Maestro Fuzz-Tone FZ-1 in 1962, slot and cross-slot screwdrivers belong to the daily tools of every guitar player. Was it 1962 a pure guess, if the 1,5 volt battery will last, 48 years later it is a standard procedure to furnish a little space somewhere in the technic corner for all those loose screws belonging to the beloved pedalboards.
Then there is a little bit of twiddling with the wires and the protective cap, poking out the tongue and licking the battery.
Features blurred as if you are playing a high-speed-murder-shredder-solo in front of 50.000 fans: battery still has power! Second possibility is the mien “I just licked a whale” – battery low!
Pockets full of batteries, not only in the studio. The simple query to my percussionist, if he could remember when I have changed the battery of my RC-2 the last time, is answered with click and flick sounds. I can’t blame him. Thando comes from Cape Town and speaks Xhosa! A very widespread Bantu dialect, which doesn’t help me any further now. Thando’s international “I’ve no idea!”-sign is for the rest of the band the one. 2 – 3 – 4. There they go.
Now my system is paralyzed by the with “no” battery BOSS RC-2. My signal-line is BOSS TU-2, EMMA, ReezaFRATzitz, EB WahWah and my sparkling RC-2. Christmas-light-error-diagnostic is applied.
Here would be the time for the first „To the editor… but you can run all that by electricity!“
It’s like Robin-Williams-movies – you like the ones where he is wearing a beard or the other ones. It is always the same old quarrel, guitar players with pedals pick: electricity or battery? At nearly all studio recording sessions I use batteries, like most of my colleagues. Anyway, at guerilla-gigs I don’t have a choice. By the way, Jumanji confused me.
But back to the half-life period of battery-powered Rock’n’Roll. It seems as if it needs a span of 48 years between a pioneering invention and its can-opener. But as long as Keith Richards and Mick Jagger are on tour, the half-life of Rock’n’Roll can’t be defined.
NAMM Show 2010. As Robert Yeates freed the Ravioli in the year 1858, so did Keith McMillen in 2010 and made the mysterious energy that powers our stomp-boxes visible for us. The Batt-O-Meter is born! Hallelujah! On an instant it became awarded „NAMM 2010 Best in Show“.
The little yellow-black wonder is just as big as the push-button of the RC-2. And there is a jack with a cable attached to it. Okay, first plug in the cable into the RC-2, press the test button and behold: the battery inside the BOSS loop station is an alkaline, the voltage volume is 7,75 volt and in this device it will work for another hour. The Batt-O-Meter’s display tells me this. I look at this gadget like someone witnessing the first rolling wheel. Flintstones on a space-trip!
The next one to test is my BOSS tuner. The TU-2 is also equipped with an alkaline, this one has 7,13 volt and should be replaced. The WahWah and the ReezaFRATzitz…. I grab one 9 volt block from the pile of batteries of unknown date, press it to the testing point at the right side of the Batt-O-Meter, push the test button to assess that I’m the owner of several riches in block form. Of course the Batt-O-Meter can as well test batteries with the flavors: rechargeable and carbon zinc. Some 1,5 volt batteries are found in the studio and tested right away. Licking would have become difficult here.
No more unnecessary drilling to change something that doesn’t have to be changed. No more unnecessary expenses to buy new, while the old is still valuable. You do not hear me say this very often… but: it makes your environment greener, because you are not throwing away half-full batteries.
Or to get to the point like TM Stevens: “No more licking!”
The Batt-O-Meter itself needs a 9 volt battery. And before the bonedo.com-server comes down to its knees: Yes! The Batt-O-Meter has a self-test function. Just push the button.
For those who don’t know what to do with their tongue now: Start licking stamps … ’cause when you have tested the Batt-O-Meter you will write “THANK YOU!”-letters to Keith McMillen and the distributor who will bring the Batt-O-Meters to Germany.