Quex Instruments are made from locally sourced timbers, a good amount of which are grown in the grounds of Quex Park itself. The Mahogany tree is not one that grows in the UK, but ‘sourced’ is a word, and concept, that has a wide meaning. So when some baulks of solid mahogany were stripped out from one of the galleries that is being re-furbished in the Powell-Cotton Museum and became available, it would have been Continue reading Mahogany
The week ahead is a little shorter than usual, having been closed on Saturday thanks to the Power Network people doing maintenance on the electricity network and unplugging the whole yard in the process. That will be followed on Monday and Wednesday by late starts as I make my way over to the Kent & Canterbury Hospital for my next dose of Anti-body treatment from last years chemo. We will be open both afternoons though.
Last week’s Cherry Log however, has been sliced up into Continue reading A Short Week
I do believe I have mentioned my reactions to stormy winds before in these pages,but allow me to re-iterate. High winds have a tendency to knock down trees that are perhaps past their sell-by date as decorative items. And in this day and age, landowners very often have them cleared away either for aesthetic reasons or for those of Health and Safety.
Now, when I see a fallen tree, my first thought is about the type of tree. Some timbers are not very good for making musical instruments but others are very suitable. Numerous species have arrived in the yard outside the unit over the last few weeks, the by-product of our next door neighbours being (rather busy at the moment) Tree Surgeons. So, you can imagine my delight the other day when their wagon came into the yard and tipped the remains of a large Wild Cherry (Prunus Avium). Included was the entire trunk in two logs around four feet long and a good 16 inches in diameter. Negotiations with Bruk, their boss, didn’t take long and I acquired one of the two logs.
So it occurred to me that following this particular log all the way through the processes used to turn it into a musical instrument might just be a nice subject for this blog.
Firstly it is cut into manageable pieces, but lengthwise, down the grain. This is basically four quarters Continue reading Stormy Times
2013 has been a bit of a funny year for me. And I don’t mean funny haha, more of a year of vicious twists that, 12 months ago, were totally unimaginable.
At the start of the year all sorts of plans were in place, virtually none of which have come to fruition. Even early in the year things were starting to go wrong and by the end of February the main reason became very apparent. Most of the rest of the year has been spent coping with the fallout from a diagnosis of Cancer. Not very many instruments have been built, and of those that have, some have subsequently been scrapped!
However, now that I’m feeling so much better than the Continue reading A Funny Year
I have to say an enormous Thank You to everybody that has called, messaged and dropped into the new workshop with good wishes now that I have the ‘all clear’ from my recent course of Chemotherapy. The
response has been most heartwarming and both myself and Shirley, my wife, really appreciated all the good will.
The response to our new instrument, the Bass-Baritone Ukulele, has also been Continue reading Many Thanks
When I last posted, some while ago now, I was joking about the number of different hospital appointments I was having to attend. The outcome of those appointments is the main reason for a lack of communication in the meanwhile. Where I had been putting back-ache down to bending over the bench too much, it turned out that a rather large tumour had grown between my kidneys and was getting larger. Combined with a growth over my left eye that was steadily closing the said optic, it hardly surprising that I was beginning to get a few things wrong!
As I write, I’m two-thirds of the way through the prescribed course of Chemotherapy and looking forward to things for the first time in a while. I’m probably looking at the end of August or beginning of September before I Continue reading Summer Update
The advantage of having an instrument built for you, as opposed to buying one off the shelf, is that you can have more or less exactly what you want. And that is not just having certain timbers or colours or tuners, but having the whole instrument designed for your specific requirements.
Take, for example, my daughter Lorraine, who you have seen before in these pages. She has always struggled with some aspects of playing a full sized guitar, due mainly to never having reached the five foot mark in her growth and having hands to match. By any standards they are tiny and the whole hand has difficulty spanning three frets!
The answer was a custom guitar, and although I don’t build many guitars I decided (as Dad’s do) that she deserved one for Christmas. As size was the main criteria I based it on a baritone ukulele body with a 22″ scale length. It was half built before she knew anything about it, but once the neck was made I thought I’d better check with her that the size of the neck was suitable. At that point she wasn’t shown the body!
I guess you would call it a Parlour or Piccolo Guitar, but the strings are so close together that virtually nobody else could play it sensibly. Many Thanks must go to Gary Zimnicki for his invaluable advice while building it.
She got her guitar for Christmas and earlier today she came along to the workshop to tell me how she could now form chords that were impossible with ‘normal’ instruments. I now have a very happy daughter!
This will be my last post for 2012, so may I take the opportunity to wish you all a Happy and prosperous New Year.
Here is one that made me smile!
My name is Wally, and I’m Walnut. That’s the wood I’m talking about, not the seed I was grown from. I was born back in 1785, or maybe 1783. It depends on when you count a tree being born, when the seed is planted in a growing pot, or when the young sapling is planted out in it’s permanent location. I was put in quite a nice place, in front of a big house along with a few of my brothers and some other relatives. I remember that when we were young we were quite well looked after by a man in baggy trousers and a big flat cap. It took a few years, but it wasn’t long Continue reading My Name is Wally..