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25 May 2015

Experiments in DIY Instrument Strings

I got into some interesting research yesterday wondering whether it would be possible to use fishing leader line to string up my banjo. The answer of course is yes, but I was wondering how I went about figuring out which line to use. I'm going to share some of my musings...


2 or 3 years ago I posted this excerpt from Pete Seeger's book "How to play the 5-string Banjo (1961)" where he talks about using fishing leader to string banjos. I told you at the time that I would try this out and I'm close to being true to my word. Pete gives us a few great hints, but there is a little more to this than he lets on about.

17 May 2015

Time and Tide - Sneak Peek

I want to give you a little bit of an update on my musical collaborations today. You may remember me talking about the latest one with Stephen Jedlicka and Martin Kirwan. It's been running for a good number of months now and everything under the sun seems to be conspiring to thwart it. Last week I shared a new song on Soundcloud. Today I'll give you a bit more background to the collaboration...


I came up with a name for the collaboration and a tentative name for the album. As of right now we're aiming to record under the name "The Trailmen" which is a reference to our cowboy roots. The album will be called "Broken Bones" and this harks back to a more rough-and-tumble age.

I have been asked about the symbolism of the artwork. Yes, there is a nautical theme, but actually the real story is one of displacement and looking for a better life, which are ideas that I think are just as relevant today as in the era in which this collaboration is set.

9 May 2015

Dreaming of Mountain Banjos & Murder

What's in a number? This happens to be my 500th blog post. I don't want to even think about all the hours I've frittered away writing nonsense for you. Am I just wasting my time, or will I eventually find that bloody Golden Scarab? We'll just have to wait and see.

After what was a cracking start to the year, I'm finding myself short on time and in a bit of a lull. It's not that I'm being lazy... more that I simply haven't got much to share with you.


I was doing a little bit of banjo dreaming earlier in the week when I mocked up this design for a fretless mountain banjo. I'm calling it the "murder banjer".

I would love to make it, but I haven't got the energy for another build just yet 

2 May 2015

Ukulele Kids Club UK

In today's post I'm going to showcase a worthy cause that I think everyone will be interested in learning about. It involves children and ukuleles...


Ukulele Kids Club Inc. is a not-for-profit organisation based in the US with a mission to donate ukuleles to children's hospitals to aid music therapy programmes. The organisation was founded in January 2014 by Corey and Edda Bergman.