Living Reuse (Quick Interviews): Handmade Electronic Instrument Craftsman Mike Rucci

This interview series features the same 4 questions to a variety of noteworthy people and a fifth question, specific for them

So this guy I know, Mike Rucci, is pretty much a salvaging genius. A couple of years ago, I asked him to build me a bike for less than $50. In almost no time, I had a sweet navy and orange bike that cost $14 in parts. A few months later, Mike told me about a new project that he was working on: he had turned an old Nintendo controller into a musical instrument that hooked up to a guitar amp. I was super confused, but then he showed me and I was just blown away. And it wasn’t just a regular Nintendo controller, but the NES Advantage, a controller that I used to use all of the time in the 80’s. (The NES Advantage synth video is at the bottom of the page).

Mike Rucci with his Atari paddle synth.

Mike Rucci with his Atari paddle synth.

Since then, Mike has reused everything from glass salsa jars to a child’s toy cell phone to a cigar box for instruments. You’re probably as baffled as I was, so you’ll just have to check out his website: handmade electronic instruments. His current creations are available for purchase too, including the Atari paddle synth seen in the photo. I personally remember playing hours and hours of Circus Atari with those. I could go on and on about Mike’s instruments and reusing skills, but I’ll save that for another article, because we’ve surely got more to do in the future. His reusing talent is simply kind of ridiculous, as you will see below.

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1. What’s the best thing that you ever got used?
My 1983 Schwinn road bike. My uncle’s dad found it at a garage sale and gave it to me.

2. What’s the last thing that you took out of the recycling or trash to reuse somehow?
A lamp cord with a on/off foot-switch.

3. What’s your favorite hot drink to get in a reusable travel mug?
Coffee.

4. How could YOU reuse a cereal box in your daily life?
I don’t eat much cereal but I would give it to Alex.

5. What’s the strangest item that you turned into one of your noise boxes?
A Weston Model 796 Megohmmeter. It was originally manufactured in Newark, NJ now it makes noises in Denmark.

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