Strange Instruments

Absurd songs played on regular instruments would be a touch, well, absurd. These beasts seem to fit the music much better.

Slimline Electric Ukulele

Tired of carrying about heavy and bulky instruments. Annoyed by instruments with more melody and sustain than your singing voice. Then a slimline electric ukulele might be for you. Looking like a cross between a space age cricket bat and an egg slicer it is engineered with German precision and kicks out a lovely jaunty tone with no feedback. Search for Risa solid ukulele if you want one for yourself.

3 String Guitar

How hard can it be to make a guitar? If you don't mind it being boxier than a Volvo and only having half the requisite number of strings - then the answer is "not too hard". This Bo Tiddly style box guitar can be tuned twice as quickly as a regular guitar, sounds better than 90% of piezo pick-upped acoustic guitars and features an on board distortion switch used to great effect on All Fruit Is Fascist. If you fancy owning or building a 3 string then visit the Chickenbone John website.


Retro-futurism at it's very finest. The Omnichord was made in the early 1980s by people who thought it would replace stringed instruments. These days this electric autoharp is often used for musical therapy but is still used by the likes of Eno and Albarn. David Bowie did a glorious rendition of America at the concert for 9/11 with one that had everyone in tears. The "Bontempi keyboard having a Red Bull overdose" electro thrash of Rules Of The Coventry Ring Road may also provoke tears, but in a very different way. The Suzuki corporation still make these and they are a staple on eBay.

Pocket Banjo

Continuing an obsession with pint sized string instruments the pocket banjo was crafted by an American trading under the name of Arcane Lutherie. It retains the 5 string banjo tuning in G but replaces the skin drum of the banjo with a wooden cavity that gives an entirely different - but beautiful bright - sound. The same man also makes walking stick guitars. Ideal for the infirm guitar player in your life.

Suitcase Banjo

The pocket banjo is a beautiful thing but often doesn't play nicely with live PAs. Hence a slightly larger suitcase banjo was acquired from the great folks at Backyard Music. It has a mahogany neck and spine combined with a drum of plywood and cardboard mailing tube. It is a slick, lightweight instrument with the tuners hidden from view and a lovely classic banjo sound. It has been combined with vintage foil pickup from Victory Guitars


4 String Tenor Dulcimer

A ukulele style take on the Appalachian dulcimer made in Australia by Honni Music. This has a lovely tear dropped shaped hollow body. The electrics combine a piezo and humbucker pickup in a way that most guitar makers would advise against. This gives you the option of a sound I'd call distinctive and unique. The 4 string dulcimer tuning (D-A-D-D) means roughly half the number of frets (who wants to have flats and sharps anyway) and the ability to just hold down two strings to play chords whilst leaving the other two strings open as drones. Perfect for the lazy string player.

Travel Mandolin

A sleek and streamlined take on the Mandolin made by the wonderful Rob Collins at Tin Guitar. He started out making banjos and ukuleles with biscuit tins for bodies but has since moved into more traditional lutherie with some very nice original designs. The curve on the body is lovely.