An odd way to play the Harmonica

In the 1970s I was a member of the  Guild of American Luthiers, I was building guitars, banjos, dulcimers and doing all the instrument repairs for 7 music stores. One day, one of the shops calls me up and say’s, “can you repair North Umbrian Bag Pipes”. Now I want you to know that at that time I didn’t know north Umbria from south Umbria, in fact I had never even seen a set of pipes up close. I tell the man, no problem send them over. I wasn’t worried because I was used to being able to find a consummate book on pretty much any subject. This was before the internet, so off to the library I go. Guess what no book on bag pipes. So a couple of days pass and now I have got the bag pipes and still can’t find any information. So I decide to tear them apart and see if I could figure out the problem. It turns out that bag pipes are just an odd way to play the harmonica. The sound is created in the bag pipes by moving air thru a series of metallic reeds just like a harmonica, all the rest of it is just to control the air. This set of pipes had a broken reed. I got out the micrometer, fashioned a new reed, installed it, tuned it and they were good to go. A few weeks go by and one of the shops calls me up and says “can you fix an accordion” I say no problem send it over. Guess what an accordion is just an odd way to play the harmonica.

While cleaning up a little today I found some parts I had made for a couple of guitars that never got finished. This is a 1/16″ thick veneer made to go on the peg head of a guitar. It’s made of rosewood, birds eye maple, mother of pearl, abalone and herringbone trim.

Peg head inlay

The mother of pearl and abalone pieces were cut from the shells with a jewelers saw. The details in the face and hand were engraved with a burin and black pigment rubbed into the lines.

Jewelers saw on top, Abalone on left Mother of Pearl on right.

Inlay materials

Engravers Burin

This is the top made to go with the peg head inlay.

Top with sound hole inlay

Top bracing

This top was an idea that didn’t turn out I was going to build a guitar with drawings on it, this is as far as I got.

Top with drawing

About millcrek

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