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29 December 2014

The "Dead Hand" Ukulele Tuning

You might be forgiven for thinking that I've gone off ukuleles. Not true! It's just that everything has its ebb and flow. Most recently I've been captivated by my banjo and I'm having a lot of fun discovering how to make it sing. As part of this, I've discovered a new tuning that I'm calling the "Dead Hand" tuning. Today's post will give you a feel for what the "Dead Hand" tuning sounds like on ukulele. I think that this might just well spark the birth of a new era in ukulele history! Remember: you read it here first! Ha ha.


First of all, let's get the boring bit out of the way. The picture above shows you all the notes on the fretboard when you tune your uke to "Dead Hand" tuning.

The strings need to be tuned: D - F# - A - D

You may recognise this as a variant of open D tuning because this is what it is. ;-)

28 December 2014

King Uke & Jed - SNEAK PEEK!

I'm pleased to give you a sneak peek of a couple of the songs that have sprung out of a musical collaboration I'm currently working on. Finally you can hear for yourself what I've been up to!

I'm really interested to get some feedback. This is where you come in! Drop me and +stephen jedlicka a comment and let us know what you think. Let's see if you can spur us on to bigger and better things!


This musical collaboration started a couple of months ago and has suffered all the usual challenges of long distance music sharing; Stephen is in the US and I'm based in the UK. The difference in timezones and busy lives has pretty much limited us to chatting via email. It's not easy to get ideas across this way, but I'm really pleased with how this is all coming together. The music style is a bit of a departure for Stephen, but he's adding a new dimension that I love. It's a real pleasure for me to work with someone with such an obvious talent. In fact, we've even talked about bringing a few more collaborators into the mix, so watch this space. Anything can happen!

26 December 2014

How to ground an electric bass guitar

It's been a while since I've done a "How to" post. Today I remedy this as I try to fix my ailing bass guitar...


I borrowed this guitar about 8 years ago from an old school friend. It belonged to his brother who has never asked for it back  :-D

It's a full-size Hohner Rockwood LX90B and is a fairly true copy of the original Fender Precision Bass it is modelled after. The difference is that the Rockwood (if you can find them anymore) retails at about a tenth of the price of the Fenders.

"My" one has a number of issues including the fact that the machine heads rattle when played. You can see above that I've taped them to stop it. The biggest problem however is a grounding issue which seems to be getting worse. This week I've had a go at fixing this problem, so It seems only right that I share some of my adventures with you.

21 December 2014

Merry Crimbo!

This year has been a bit of a blur for me. I've been indulging in all sort of things; some of which I've been sharing with you on this blog. I usually do an end of year round-up, but I don't think I'll manage one this time round. Instead, I'll give you a quick update and wish you a merry Crimbo. Have a great one!


Tis the season to watch old films. I dug out Holiday Inn last week. It's not a great film, but it does have it's moments. Personally, the racial stereotypes and undertones ruin it for me. But look at the lovely Marjorie Reynolds... what's not to like about her?

Next on the Christmas to-watch list is Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Can't wait!

30 November 2014

Bluegrass Bomb-blast!

I want to give you a quick update on what I've been up to this week. I've been having so much fun! I mentioned in my last post that I was hoping to get caught up in a musical collaboration. I also shared a video from +stephen jedlicka with you. Well, would you believe it, I've teamed up with Stephen to lay down some tunes! What are the odds of that?


I'm really excited about this latest collaboration. Expect a largely acoustic set in that offbeat Bluegrass style that I've been experimenting with of late. You know me... the first song tells a little more of the Bad Moon legend. I can't stop listening to it. Once we've figured out a name, you might even get to hear it soon yourself! Ha ha

22 November 2014

Complete Zombies vs. Robots

Tonight I'm back on the comic trail with a very quick review. The comic I bought was IDW's 2009 compilation comic called ZOMNIBUS, but I'm only going to talk about one bit: the outstanding Complete Zombies vs. Robots.


ZOMNIBUS is a compilation of 3 parts:

Zombies!: Feast by Shane McCarthy, Chris Bolton and Enrique Lopez Lorenzana - a so-so zombie apocalypse story.

Zombies!: Eclipse of the Dead by El Torres and Yair Herrera - another so-so zombie apocalypse story

Complete Zombies vs. Robots by Chris Ryall and Ashley Wood 

15 November 2014

Dead but not forgotten...

I've been writing this damn blog for a long, long time and so far haven't had to resort to a "where the hell have I been" post. There's a first time for everything I guess. I can see that it's been a long while since my last update and even longer since I did anything worthwhile worth talking about.

The funny thing is: I've been really busy, but I don't seem to have a whole lot to show for it. Surely I must have been up to something? Let's see...


I've been patiently waiting for my last comic "Dead Hand" to be available in all the usual retail outlets. It seems that this comic in particular has been taking far longer than the others did to work its way through the system. At the time of writing it's been well over a month and it still hasn't hit the Amazon shelves. Pah! The other comics have now racked up 1000+ downloads!

Foolishly, I've begun work on part 4... "The Lost Man". I'm about half way through it's production and I must say that if you thought the first three were a little obtuse, then you're in for a real treat here. It's an odd mix of psychedelia and gothic horror all melded together like a cowboy's worst nightmare. I can't decide yet whether it is a work of twisted genius or complete folly. I will only know if I make it to the end. So far the ride has been great fun. Unlike previous comics, I haven't shared a great deal of the artwork on Google+, but if you go looking, you'll find most of chapter 1 and a few hints of what is in store.

10 October 2014

"Dead Hand" is published!

I'm extremely proud to announce that I've published part 3 in the Bad Moon comic series. As is customary, you're welcome to the launch party and it's happening right here!


All of the Bad Moon series is available for FREE download, right now.

You can get part 1 from the following places:
"Bad Moon" on Lulu
"Bad Moon" on iTunes
"Bad Moon" on Barnes & Noble
"Bad Moon" on Kobo
"Bad Moon" on Amazon

You can get part 2 from the following places:
"The Black Pirate" on Lulu
"The Black Pirate" on iTunes
"The Black Pirate" on Barnes & Noble
"The Black Pirate" on Kobo
"The Black Pirate" on Amazon

Part 3 is working its way through the system as I write. If I remember, I'll come back and update this post with links, but so far you can get it from the following places:
"Dead Hand" on Lulu
"Dead Hand" on iTunes
"Dead Hand" on Kobo
"Dead Hand" on Amazon

4 October 2014

Prophet

I've been desperate to do this post for some time. I can almost guarantee that it will be a bit of a shambles.

Welcome to the latest installment in my quest to uncover comic excellence. Today I discuss the intergalactic phenomenon that is John Prophet.


I'll come clean and reveal that I didn't have a scooby doo what Prophet was about when I bought it. Yep, I'd figured out that it was some sort of sci-fi series, but beyond that... nothing. I'd spotted it on ebay; Someone was selling volumes 1, 2 and 3 as a bundle. I am so glad that I bought them! I'm not going to review any one of the books for you right now, but instead give you a feel for the overall series.

I've read Remission, Brothers and Empire and also flicked through a free online copy of Strikefile #1. I know that the strikefile is meant to act as a bit of an introduction, but my advice would be to skip it and dive right in.

All these comics have been published by Image Comics.

20 September 2014

Battle Royale

If I thought that Chapter 3 had been produced in super-fast time, then Chapter 4 has smashed it right out of the park! Here it is. I've certainly rushed the pages out and I think it adds a certain urgency to the mood... which is exactly what the story needs at this point. There's only one more chapter to go. I really hope that I can pull off the ending. We'll just have to wait and see! ;-)

If you want to jump back to the start of this book then here are a few links to guide your way:

Chapter 1 - Till Death Do Us Part
Chapter 2 - El Malparido
Chapter 3 - The Hunt

Introducing: Battle Royale...


15 September 2014

The Hunt

I'm pleased to announce that I've drawn up chapter 3 of the new "Dead Hand" comic. I present to you "The Hunt", a tale of brooding maleficence. This was storyboarded a couple of months ago and I see now a small sync with a recent post I wrote about "The Hunter". What is it with all this hunting I wonder?

I've had a lot of fun pulling this one together and quite by accident, I've done it in record time. Things are coming together nicely both in terms of overall plot and artwork. I haven't been afraid to mix it up here and there so hopefully this will keep things interesting for you. As always I'll add the disclaimer that these are the drafts and they may need to change ;-)

I reckon that this is my favourite chapter so far!

Give me your feedback good or bad; You know that it is always very much appreciated.

Enjoy!


10 September 2014

El Malparido

Oh, what a lot of fun I'm having at the moment! I'm reading comics like they're going out of fashion. Go and check out some of my recent posts if you want to get a hint of what I'm reading and my thoughts on them.

I noticed yesterday that August has been a huge month for downloads of my free comic "Bad Moon". I've only mustered a couple of reviews to date, but what's been written has been great! I'm waiting for the bomb-blast review to happen... it's only a matter of time! Ha ha. Grab your tin hats!

Today's post is chapter 2 in the third comic. Is this all making sense yet?

Oh, one thing before I show you the chapter...


I was honoured a couple of months ago when UKUkee published an interview he did with me on his blog. I remember this being pulled together at the end of the longest hardest day at the end of the longest hardest week. I was sooo tired! Thanks to UKUkee magic, it all turned out pretty well! Be sure to go read the interview and drop UKUkee a comment. Warning: the interview has nothing to do with comics... and everything to do with making ukuleles! Thank you UKUKee! I'm not worthy!

6 September 2014

Electric Ant (2011)

The quest for comic perfection continues! My mission to uncover immaculate storytelling has taken me to the darkest corners of the publishing world and I'm still sharing my thoughts with you on this blog. Yay!

Things are starting to tie themselves in knots like some sort of mutant Moebius loop. It was only in rereading my last post on "I Am Legend" that I realised that the Steven Niles responsible for the script adaptation is none other than the very same Steven Niles responsible for "30 Days of Night". The pieces of the jigsaw are beginning to slot together! I see honing of craft. I see practice through execution. I see obsession. I see the path to enlightenment and success!


 Imagine my surprise when I then realised that the David Mack responsible for scripting the 2011 graphic novel "Electric Ant" is the same David Mack responsible for Kabuki.

What?!?

It's true I tell you!

Today's post dusts off a comic I'd almost forgotten that I'd read. It was the Philip Dick connection that made me do it.

1 September 2014

I Am Legend (1991)

It should come as no surprise to learn that I'm in the eye of of a comic-reading hurricane. In the space of mere hours I've posted my thoughts on subjects as diverse as space exploration, Japanese organised crime and vampires. Can it only have been hours since I last talked about vampires? Ha ha. You'll be pleased to learn that I have more vampires to talk about!

For those with an incredibly short attention span (you know who you are!), I'll remind you that I am on a quest to discover that magic Ingredient X that turns a good comic into an excellent comic. I want to know what witchcraft results in a "classic" graphic novel. Are there rules that need to be followed? What might they be? By studying the works of experts in the field I hope to answer these questions and more, gaining insight and perhaps if I'm lucky, nirvana. Or... I might just have fun reading comics and learn nothing! Both are fine. ;-)


Today's post is a return to one of my all time favourite stories: "I Am Legend" by Richard Matheson. Only there's a twist. This version has been turned into a comic by Steve Niles (story adaptation) and Elman Brown (artwork). How can this be, and does it work? Let's find out...

30 Days of Night - Volume 1 (2013)

Regular readers of this blog will know that I'm on a comic-reading spree in search of artistic Zen. Yes, I'm trying to broaden my horizons and gain insights into life through reading comics. Foremost though, I'm hoping to have a bit of fun along the way! Over the past month or so I've been picking up graphic novels left right and centre. As you can imagine, Mrs Uke is absolutely over the moon with my new hobby! ;-)

I promised to post you a few reviews on this blog and so far I've been true to my word. Even the crap comics have lessons to teach. Looking back, I seem to be gushing and ranting in equal measure. Ha ha. What fun!


One thing that's definitely gone in my favour has been how easy and relatively cost effective it has been to pick up omnibus editions of compete stories. Having never even been aware of some of the comics I've been looking at, I've been lucky enough to be able to start right back at the beginning. Today's review is one of these omnibus editions.

The "30 Days of Night" omnibus was written by Steve Niles with artwork by Ben Templesmith. I have Volume 1 which was published in 2013 containing the stories: 30 Days of Night; Dark Days; and Return to Barrow.

The High Ways (2013)

I discovered John Byrne about a year ago and I'd go as far as to say that he's one of the driving forces behind helping me to rekindle my love of comics. I read comics in my youth (the usual kid's fare which ultimately progressed onto 2000AD), but then somewhere in my teens the urge left me. Was it a lack of money? Had I outgrown them? Perhaps I simply needed a break? Some 20+ years later I find myself hooked again and I've got a lot of catching up to do!

A lot has happened inside the world of comics since I last dabbled. I've been loving learning all about the new authors and books. Having realised a lifelong ambition earlier this year when I published a couple of my own comics, I've just recently "invested" in a pile of new ones to try out. I want to expand my horizons and see how the masters do it. Perhaps if I'm lucky, I might even learn something about the art of making comics in the process! ;-)


I promised in my last post that I'd share some of my thoughts with you as I wade through "the pile". Today's blog covers the 2013 graphic novel by John Byrne called "The High Ways".

31 August 2014

Kabuki (1994)

When it comes to writing comics, I'd say that I know just about enough to be dangerous. This might sound odd given that I have now written two "graphic novels" with a third in the pipes, but believe me when I say that these ventures have been all heart and no training!

In the middle of creating "Bad Moon" I did consider doing some research for pointers, but I gave that idea up almost as soon as I'd begun; I realised that I didn't want to produce a comic like anyone else's. It seemed that the best way of doing this might be to ignore what that had gone before. I even went as far as to avoid reading comics; I didn't want to subconsciously infect my novel with someone else's ideas. I know it sounds a bit extreme, but this was simply how it had to be. It was only after finishing "The Black Pirate" that I finally felt safe picking up comics again. I bought loads and have been working my way through them ever since. There's been a real mixed bag of subject, styles and quality. All have been insightful in some way. Before the memories fade too much, I'm going to share some of my thoughts on them with you on this blog.


My first review is a wildcard purchase. I happened upon it quite by chance. It is the 1994 graphic novel "Kabuki: Circle of Blood" by David Mack.

17 August 2014

Till Death Do Us Part

I know that I said I wouldn't do any more comic-making, but a week away without wifi left me with a bit more time on my hands than I'd bargained for. Ha ha. I started storyboarding and before I knew it, I had the entire story for the third book mapped out! Would you believe it!


The cover to "Dead Hand" gives a hint of what is to come...

but only a hint ;-)

Highwayman Banjo - Dead in the Water

Regular readers of this blog will know that I started a new project this year to build a banjo. I dubbed the build "The Highwayman Banjo" and have been posting updates fairly regularly ever since. Actually, the last update was months ago and since then I've been busy doing everything but the build! Nooooo! Time for a quick update...


This looks interesting. I'm going to have to try and remember what I was up to from the photo. Ah yes... Here I am gluing the ebony veneer on the headstock. After some precision cutting with my table saw, I'd managed to cut the headstock so that it inclines back at an angle.

I'm in a make or break mode now. Any mistake from this point onwards is going to be fatal!

7 August 2014

A Short Study of Crescents

Can it be less than a year since I thrilled you with some holiday snaps from my visit to the wilds of Northumberland? The answer is yes. The good new is that I've been back and I have a heap more photos to share with you! Ha ha... I bet you can't wait! Given that I've been a bit quiet on the blog of late, I'll also try to squeeze in a few other updates here and there too. Buckle-up!


I started my last post on Northumberland remarking at the crescent I'd seen whilst up there. More on this now. I'm still trying to figure out what it means and where it came from.

Although crescents can appear as heraldic "charges", I'm not convinced that this is one of them. I've learnt that the up-turned moon was a symbol brought back to England from the crusades; The symbol of Islam. It was often used to denote a cadet branch to a royal family (i.e the descendants of royalty... a royal line). Another red herring I reckon.

This particular crescent is the symbol (or "badge") used by the Earl of Northumberland, a title held by the Percy family. The one pictured above adorns the entrance to one of their residences: Alnwick Castle. I still haven't got a clue where it originated.

13 July 2014

The Black Pirate

I did it! I finally published my second comic! Say hello to The Black Pirate...


The Black Pirate is part two in the Bad Moon series. It follows on from where Bad Moon leaves off. Were you wondering what happened next? Well, now you can find out! This installment has a similar look and feel to the first comic, but I'd like to think that it is different enough to keep things interesting. I've tried to raise the bar in terms of artwork and story-telling. Have I succeeded? I'll let you be the judge of that.

You can download The Black Pirate FREE from Lulu right now! Over the coming weeks I hope that it will become available in a heap of other places too. Keep your eyes peeled.

6 July 2014

Marvin Walker

Today I continue my infrequent series on luthiers who amaze and inspire me. Today's post is on a gentleman called Marvin Walker. I had the good fortune of meeting Marvin just recently after he dropped a comment on this blog. The topic of conversation was Dixie banjoleles, but it wasn't long before we were talking builds. It turns out that Marvin has used the Dixie pot as the basis of a couple of his early builds. That's pretty interesting, but nowhere near as interesting as some of the other things he's been up to! ;-)


Here's "Marvelous" Marvin Walker hard at work shaping the neck on his last build. Why is it that when I do this sort of thing that I end up covered in sawdust. Marvin's spotless.... he's got the magic touch for sure! :-)

The observant amongst you will have already spotted a key detail in the picture above that demands explanation. See the neck. It looks sort of concert ukulele scale, but hold on a second... what's that odd lump half way up?

YES! This is a banjo neck! But it isn't a neck for any old ordinary banjo... this is for a mini banjo!

28 June 2014

Cajón - Finished!

Less than a month ago you might remember that I started to build a Cajón as a side project. In previous updates I've showed you how I cut the wood and how I started gluing the various bits together. When we last spoke, I'd got as far as sticking the top and bottom to the sides. A lot's happened since then; I've only gone and finished! Well, I think that I have. Here's the final update


The back of the Cajón is made of slightly thinner wood than the sides. Here you can see me cutting a sound hole with my jig saw. I'm sure there is a science to where the hole should go and the size and shape, but I let my heart guide me here. I've gone for a traditional circle. It's slightly above centre and on the large size with a 12 cm diameter. Remember that I will use this to access my patented snare adjustment bar.

23 June 2014

Uke Fest GB 2014

You might remember me talking about the Ukulele Festival of Great Britain around about this time last year. You guessed it... it's happened again! I'm back from a fun-packed weekend in Cheltenham. I shared loads of fuzzy pictures on Google+. Let me add some words and see if I can make some sense of it all...


The eagle-eyed amongst you might have noticed that the festival has a new name. The old one was too long apparently. I loved the hibiscus-cum-ukulele stage decorations. This is a picture of the main stage in Cheltenham Town Hall where all the artists played on the Saturday. The festival had a Hawaiian theme for the weekend. I must have missed that bulletin.

This is as Hawaiian as I got. Yep, I took my Sharkfin Ukulele with me... my weapon of mass destruction!


16 June 2014

Cajón - Box Drum Snare

I have two building projects on the go! Yes, two at the same time! This is unheard of and can only lead to tears. Actually, I'm finding it a pretty good tonic for keeping things interesting for me. As one build ebbs, the other expands to fill the gaps. Here's a little update on my cajón build...


The original cajóns had no wires; They were simply boxes. Over time the design was refined and musicians began to add a little jingle using old guitar wire and small bells. Others went a step further and stuck in proper snare wire.

I've decided that my cajón will use snare wire and this is a photo of the wire I will use. As you will see very soon, I have chosen to cut this into two prior to fitting. Hold this thought...

15 June 2014

Highwayman Banjo - Hooke's Law

Hooke's law clearly states that the force F needed to extend or compress a spring by some distance X is proportional to that distance. That is:F = k X, where k is the constant, "stiffness". Unfortunately, Robert Hooke had nothing to say about building banjos and this is the topic of today's update. Let me tell you what I've been up to...


In Roulette the zero gives the House it's edge. It is neither red nor black, odd nor even. European Roulette is played with a zero. In America the Gaming Houses added a "double-zero" to further tip the odds in their favour. This picture is of the Roulette table on the Pride of Hull, snapped on my recent visit to Amsterdam. Oh yes... I see what you're doing here P&O! Rumbled!

8 June 2014

Cajón - Box Drum

My Highwayman banjo build is taking bloody ages. I've hit a few problems and it's going to take a while for me to figure out how to get things moving again. While I wait for parts to arrive, I've only gone and started a new project! I've been toying with the idea of making a cajón for some time. Today I took the plunge...


 A cajón (Spanish pronunciation: [kaˈxon] (Ka-hone), "crate", "drawer", or "box with a hole in it") is a six sided, box-shaped percussion instrument originally from Peru, played by slapping the front or rear faces (generally thin plywood) with the hands, fingers, or sometimes various implements such as brushes, mallets, or sticks. ~ Wikipedia

Cajóns have become quite popular of late and range in price from about £50 for an entry-level instrument right up into the hundreds of pounds for a designer label. Given that they are essentially a box, it's not surprising that people are having a go at making their own.

This brilliant video by Colin McCormick gives you a pretty good feel for what you can achieve if you make your own. And if you're not up to making your own then contact Colin and he'll make one for you!

1 June 2014

Highwayman Banjo - Fret-bending Folly

I've been up to a couple of different things today, but right now I'm going to make you smile with a little bit of folly. Remember my last post on my Highwayman Banjo build where I joked that I might make a fret bender? Well, read on...


If you search for Fret Benders on the internet you are going to find all sorts of home-made ones and even some pretty snazzy professional ones like the one pictured. This one is by Sintoms and retails on Amazon for £68.99. As much as I like the look of it, if I'm going to have a fret bender, it will need to be homemade and manufactured from parts that I already own.

A Taste of Amsterdam

I'm still recovering from a flying visit to Amsterdam. It's been a bit of a blur... and not for the reasons that you're thinking. What better way to make sense of it all than by dusting off some of the holiday snaps!


Spirits were high as we set off from Hull on the overnight ferry to The Netherlands. You might remember our trip to Bruges a year or so ago where we traveled through snow. This time it was gloomy rain. P&O do two trips to the Netherlands: one to Rotterdam and one to Amsterdam. Both arrive at Europoort which is officially the Port of Rotterdam. It's 25 miles to the centre of Rotterdam from the port and just under 70 miles to Amsterdam. It took us 1 hour and 20 minutes on the coach P&O laid on for us. By the time we arrived I was climbing the walls desperate to get exploring!

26 May 2014

Highwayman Banjo - Fret Holder

I've been busy with a little side-project today. I've combine 3 experiments into 1 to allow me to try out some stuff and hopefully learn something in the process. I've built a fret holder! More on this soon. First, let's talk about some of the things I wanted to explore...


I'm not sure who took this picture, but it looks like someone has attempted to make some fret-markers that look like the original Gibson Mastertone markers. The one in the middle looks flawed, but on the whole, I'm impressed! You will remember me talking about my "magic 21st" fret yesterday and my thoughts along the lines of doing something like this. Only, my marker is maple rather than mother of pearl. How and earth could I pull this off?

Perhaps I could etch the words, fill with paint and do it that way? Only one way to find out!

(Photo courtesy of  Banjo Brands

25 May 2014

Highwayman Banjo - Snakes Alive!

I've been having a bit of a break from by Banjo-building. My self-imposed hiatus came about when I decided to change how I'm doing the pot. More on this in another post. I'm waiting for a part to arrive from China and then I shall reveal all. You know me... I've been unable to sit on my hands for too long.

In today's post I'm going to talk about my work to fashion a fretboard...


Some crazy ideas just need a little bit of time to bed in. Other's, never seem to make it to the mainstream. Take these brilliant snake boots. What's not to like about these?

Why all this talk of snakes? Read on...

(photo courtesy of Geekologie

17 May 2014

Rats

I'm proud to be sharing with you the final chapter in my new comic. This is it my friends... the journey is over...


11 May 2014

Highwayman Banjo - More adventures in pot

I've been busy working on my Highwayman Banjo build. I've made so much sawdust, you wouldn't believe!


I'm living and learning with this build. Although I started off with the router, everything else I've done since has been by other means. For example, see here that I've trimmed the outside of the pot using my table saw. I LOVE my table saw! If you look closely, you'll see that I've set up an ingenious little guide above the blade that has allowed me to trim the outside by continuously turning the pot round and passing it by the blade. Amazing!

3 May 2014

Highwayman Banjo - Adventures in pot

You might have noticed already that I've decided on a name for my new banjo build. I'm going to call it the Highwayman for reasons that should need no explanation. I vowed to share with you all the build drama and so far I've been pretty quiet. All this changes... right now...


I threatened to have a go at making the pot for my banjo using a technique I'd seen on the internet whereby you glue layers of wood together in hexagon shapes. Here you can see me gluing layer 2 of 3. I'm making it look easy, but what a bloody nightmare! This hasn't been easy at all!

25 April 2014

How to inlay wood

I've been wondering whether I've got what it takes to do some fancy wood inlay. Perhaps I can spice up my banjo build with a few choice embellishments? I've inlaid fret-dots on previous builds, but nothing more complicated than this. Today, I'm going to give you an update on a little experiment I've been undertaking...


Here's a panel from my new comic. It's a work in progress. I've drafted four chapters and I'm working on the last one now. The good news is that it's finally got a name; I'm calling it "The Black Pirate" in honour of my Mexicali Rose. The bad news is that the App I'm using to storyboard has stopped working! Damn! I'll give the makers a chance to fix it, but I may have to find another way of getting to the end of this.

I show you this panel for a reason. See the hand-print. This is the design I decided to turn into an inlay. My thinking is that a handprint is the simplest, most basic symbol that anyone can put on anything. I mean, people have been making hand-prints since time immemorial. I resolved to try and inlay a handprint based upon this picture.

21 April 2014

Fist of Fury

I mentioned that I'd bought a table saw the other day but then had been horribly disappointed when it turned up broken. What a mess! The good news is that a replacement was sent and delivery number two has been all good. Let me tell you a little bit about the saw...


I bought an Evolution Fury 5. It's huge, dangerous, and I love it!

Here's the official blurb:

"The flag ship power tool of any home workshop, the FURY5 provides tremendous cutting versatility; cross cut, mitre cut, bevel cut, straight cut, large or small applications. Plus, this is no ordinary table saw, this is an Evolution table saw, so the versatile performance does not stop there; astonishingly, the FURY5 will easily cut Steel, Aluminium, Wood (wood with nails) and Plastics, using just one blade. Featuring a quick-clamp rip fence that is solid and sturdy in every position for essential cutting security, precise height and angle adjustment and an anti-bounce device, which minimises movement in material being cut."

20 April 2014

Ein, Zwei, Die!

It doesn't seem like 5 minutes ago that I was posting chapter 3 in my comic story. Well, what do you know... I'm sharing chapter 4 with you now! This is the penultimate chapter in the book and I'm experimenting with all sorts of new things. I have a pretty good idea of how this tale with end, but I'll keep this to myself for now. If this is your first time stumbling across this story, then I'd urge you to go right back to the start... it might make more sense that way ;-)


12 April 2014

More Dreaming about Building a Banjo

I've been spending more time wondering whether I've got what it takes to make a banjo. For the main part this has meant hours on the internet and lots of little scribbles on scraps of paper as I try to gather my thoughts. Let me try and explain some of what's been going through my head...


Fiction and reality are beginning to overlap. I wonder if this picture will make its way into my new comic? We'll just have to wait and see! 

6 April 2014

The Wild Rover

I'm pleased to announce that it's time for another installment of my comic saga. Hooray!

You might remember that I took a little departure with chapter 1 when I went all Samurai on you. Chapter 2 left us with quite a few loose ends. Chapter 3 returns us to familiar ground. Fasten your seatbelts my friends... this is going to get messy...

Let me introduce you to the Wild Rover...


Dreaming of Building a Banjo

It should come as no surprise that I've been scheming up a project to build a banjo. I think we can squarely blame Rob Stenson for this; His wonderful playing on the Gold Mountain EP is still a firm favourite on my ipod playlist.


Here's an early sketch I did to help me to familiarise myself with the parts of a banjo. My thinking has moved on a bit since this was done, but I'll call out a couple of things that were troubling me at the time:

See the pot - the drum bit. How on earth would I make that? Here, I'm thinking of slotting the neck through it.

See that knobbly 5th tuner on the neck. I know it's kind of the defacto banjo look, but I don't like it; it would interfere with my thumb when I'm playing. Could I do things differently so that I wouldn't have to put it there?

23 March 2014

Rob Stenson - Gold Mountain EP (2013)

I'm having a bit of an obsessive interlude. This week I've found it hard to think about anything other than banjos. You can blame +shankti oviedo for this... He showed me a video by a remarkable gentleman by the name of Rob Stenson and the rest, as they say, is history...


Rob Stenson - Gold Mountain EP (Vulf Records - 0003)

I've tried to get hold of Rob Stenson to ask him a few questions, but so far, no dice. This is a video of what may well be the whole Gold Mountain EP being played in someone's back yard. It's brilliant! I love all the ambient interference. Somewhere into the second song you even have a cameo from a yapping dog. It's been driving my own yapping dog nuts trying to figure out where the sound is coming from. Ha ha. Here's a link to itunes where you can buy the EP. This is raw, live clawhammer banjo at its uncut best. Go buy it and see for yourself.

16 March 2014

A Rose by Any Other Name

I'm pleased to release another installment of my comic! Today we welcome back an old friend and a few questions from chapter one are answered. If you want to read some of the backstory then check out chapter one here, and of course, be sure to read book one "Bad Moon" for the appetiser.

The story continues...


8 March 2014

Massimo Belardinelli

You might have noticed earlier this week that I declared the 2nd of March to be Massimo Belardinelli Day and started the hashtag #massimobelardinelli in honour of this great man. Missed it? Shame on you!


It all started here. Look at this impressive collection of 2000AD annuals I've amassed. As a youth I collected loads of the original comics and my Biker mum simply gave them all away when I wasn't looking! Can you believe it! All these (except for the 1982 annual) have been acquired since about Christmas time. There's more too that aren't pictured! Oh dear, oh dear! Ha ha. I have been having sooo much fun reading them, you wouldn't believe!

1 March 2014

Knife (Sub-Version)

I've been desperate to record some music and this seemed like the easiest way of getting something down. I'm pleased to release a busking version of the number 1 cowboy tune of all time... Knife... a tune that I penned with fellow Outlaw, El Pancho!


Knife originally had the working title of "Knife-Thrower Blues". I just couldn't resist this picture. 

25 February 2014

How to hang a Ukulele

It's been a while since I talked about ukuleles on this blog. Let's rectify this! Today, I'm going to ponder a couple of options for hanging your ukulele.


Hanging ukuleles doesn't have to be a nightmare. Hold this thought...

24 February 2014

Time's a Changin'

I said I wouldn't do any more comic-making, and it appears that I lied!

You will remember the fun that I had producing the "Bad Moon" comic just recently. I put it together and published it over the space of a couple of months. Not bad! I see that it is now listed on Lulu, iBookstore and Nook and that I am well on my way to making my first million! Ha ha!

Below is a new chapter that follows on some time after the story that ended in Bad Moon. It introduces a new character... the mysterious Mr Paris. This is a first draft, so I reserve the right to alter any or all of it. I wonder what happens next?


A Taste of London

I'm going to sneak in a quick post here with some snaps I took over the weekend on a flying visit to London. Most are from the Natural History Museum, but quite a few were taken in the Tower of London. A great time was had by all! Enjoy...


Carving of an astronomical globe left by Hew Draper. Hew (or Hugh) was imprisoned in Salt Tower in 1561 as a suspected sorcerer. Like many prisoners before and after him, he left his mark on the walls of his cell. Hew was a Bristol Innkeeper. No record is kept of what happened to him following his incarceration.

9 February 2014

Kazoo like nobody's listening...

I've noticed a trend over the last year for reviving the Kazoo. It's very popular with ukers who are wanting to add something a little different to their songs. Some really pull it off, getting sounds that aren't a million miles away from that of a trumpet. Surely I couldn't let this fad pass me by?

I've never actually ever played a Kazoo before...


Look what I bought on ebay - a second-hand kazoo. It works too! Everyone except for Mrs Uke seems happy with my new purchase. 

6 February 2014

Hologram Earth - Systematic Disorder

Do you remember a post I wrote some time back about a Progressive Metal band called Hologram Earth? I really did have a lot of fun reviewing their debut EP. It is simply outstanding and remains one of my all-time favourite ways of scaring the children (that, and parading about the house in my Highwayman outfit). Ha ha. All of that last sentence is true!


Look at this fan-art I've produced to celebrate frontman Michiel Meurs. In their new single we see a softer, more cuddly side to Holland's son of Satan.

31 January 2014

The Bad Moon comic is published!

My project to write and produce a graphic novel is over! That's one of my life ambitions achieved! I can't believe it! After an intense month of creative angst and hard work, I've managed to tell the tale that could not be told! Ha ha! Brilliant! Let me reveal a little more...


Here's a hamfisted attempt at a poster for the book. "Life is hard, but Death is harder..." Ha ha. You've just got to love that tagline!