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Showing posts from September, 2014

Review: Bart Veerman Bridge

Last month I mentioned ordering a new bridge for my banjo from Bart Veerman. After a thorough test drive of my revamped banjo, I'm here to deliver a thorough review.

What I ordered: Basic two-footed bridge, 5/8-inch tall, mystery wood, no top, 46-millimeter “clawhammer” string spacing. (Cost: $20, including shipping.)

My banjo specs: Short scale, walnut neck, 12-inch thin maple rim (Keller drum shell), Dobson tone ring, thin goatskin head, Chris Sands heavy strings. (See review here.)

Selection: Bart offers a wide variety of bridge styles with a long list of options to customize each bridge order. You can specify number of legs, height, wood, finish, string spacing, compensation and more.

Price: Bart’s bridges start at $15 and escalate in price depending on the myriad options available for customization. Your base option offers choice of height, wood and string spacing. Shipping is $3 within Canada, $5 to the United States and $7 elsewhere.

Availability: You can order Bart’s bridges di…

Leftwich Lessons: Rocky Road to 3Q

Today marks nine months of working with Brad Leftwich's two-disc Homespun DVD seriesLearn to Play Old-Time Fiddle. At last report, I had switched over to Lesson 2, which where the "down-bow" style gets much more complex.

Leftwich teaches a series of patterns named after the greats he learned from, such as "Tommy's Lick," named after Tommy Jarrell, and "Melvin's Lick." named after Melvin Wine, and others. These short patterns have some variations and can be slotted into various tunes to help drive the rhythm by keeping the beginning of phrases as a powerful downward bow stroke.

This past weekend, I started working on "Rocky Road to Dublin," from West Virginia fiddler Burl Hammons. So far, it's been very rocky road indeed.



This is the second tune that Leftwich teaches using "Melvin's Lick," which is basically a shuffle and a pulsed up-bow. As the lessons have gone on, I've had a harder time picking up the tune fro…

From Abe's to Zollie's Retreat

The acquisition of a new family car has allowed me the luxury of being able to connect my iPod to my car stereo. Instead of cycling through my CDs to quench my old-time thirst, I now have my entire music catalog to satiate my ears.

A couple weeks ago I decided to start at one end and see how long it took to get to the other, going alphabetically by song title. Like I said, I started this little journey a couple weeks ago and have only made it to "Camp Chase." The funny thing is I'm encountering a lot of music I forgot I had.

With digital downloads and the availability of loads of out-of-print music in the "public domain," I have downloaded a lot of old-time material without really listening to all of it. Each time a new tune comes on, I play a game with myself of trying to identify the artist and title. I'm losing that contest. I often find myself thinking, "I didn't know I had this."

As is one of my favorite aspects of old-time music, I'm…