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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!