Review time, and not a ukulele this week, rather an accessory that I think uke players will really like. Say hello to the Travelog 2 from Logjam.
The Travelog is a stompbox in the truest sense of the word. By that I don't mean it's a stompbox such as an effects pedal, rather it's a box you stomp! They are made in the UK and were the brainchild of Howard Bragen. The product also has some rather impressive endorsees including Seth Lakeman, Guy Garvey and our own Phil Doleman (who I have seen perform with one!)
The concept is simple, but highly effective. The Travelog is a wooden box chamber that contains a capsule pickup. Plugging the Travelog into an amplifier you have a box at your feet that when you tap it creates a beat sound kind of like a bass kick drum. The idea is as old as the hills and for years, folk performers would use upturned wooden crates to create a beat sound with their feet on stage. By making them small and capable of amplifcation, Logjam have developed something that you can easily carry around and with the right amplifer, make as much noise as you like.
The construction is simple but rugged and really rather pleasing. The body of the Travelog is made from a block of sustainable Sapele wood which contains a routed chamber inside housing the pickup. You connect that pickup to an amplifier with a standard guitar cable into the jack socket screwed to the side of the box. And that really is it. No batteries, and nothing really that I can see that can go wrong.
The hand finish is really rather nice as it's finished in rubbed linseed oil. The wood-shop smell from the box when you open it is divine! Aside from that is the Logjam logo plate riveted to the front of the box and an essential grippy rubber mat glued to the base to stop it sliding around on wooden floors.
What I found really interesting to play around with was the range of sounds you can get. Of course you can play around with the EQ on your amplifier (I found it best mainly on the bassy side, but really, the rules are yours to make or break), but choosing different footwear gives very different sounds too. In the video below I am wearing fairly hard leather soled shoes, which gives a very bright snappy sound, but if you use it in a pair of rubber soles, such as trainers or Doctor Martens, you get a more bassy thud.
Logjam recommend that it's best paired with a large-ish amplifier with good bass response for obvious reasons. For the video however, I have it running into a small simple Roland Mobile Cube and found it is still effective as an accompaniment to an acoustic instrument. Obviously if you are going to plug your ukulele in, you will need the Logjam plugged into something powerful to balance it. But the beauty of the simple design that it's only need is a jack input, means the sky is the limit. This would be a hoot to connect to a powerful PA system!
So why is this featuring on a ukulele blog? Well simple really - the ukulele on it's own has a pretty thin sound and it does (I think) come alive when accompanied by something else. Performers around the world who are playing songs (less so those who play delicate instrumentals) bolster the ukulele by playing in larger groups, or adding friends on bass guitar (or uke) or things like Cajon hand drums. But the role of the solo troubadour song singer is still one that many people are drawn to. And if you don't want to take drummer out on gigs with you, something like this gives you an extra dimension to your sound. A self accompanying beat!
The Travelog is part of a range of similar products from Logjam, but I like this one for the balance of size, simplicity and just sheer ruggedness to throw in your gig bag. If you are a solo performer, I think something like this could really add new options to some of your set. Recommended
The Travelog retails at a shade under £65 and is available from music dealers and from Logjam direct
© Barry Maz