Another inaugural festival took place last weekend at Bishops Cannings near Devises in Wiltshire. The Go West Uke Fest was a super little festival aimed at ukulele groups from the West-country. There were attendees from many clubs including those in Wilts, Dorset and Swindon.
I was delighted to be asked to run a bass ukulele workshop in the morning, which was very enjoyable and it was a great pleasure to meet new bass ukulele players.
The workshop covered most of the points in this series of videos (put together while Buzzard's Field Ukuleles was Buzzards Field Basses).
In the evening everyone piled into The Crown for performances and group strum-alongs. My old red Afan bass uke saw plenty of action playing with the Westbury based ULO (details here).
It was a really successful first event, and I look forward to being a part of many more in the future!
I've been involved with setting up the Priming the pump weekender in Westbury, which took place at the end of July. It was a truly brilliant mini 3-day festival and went off without a hitch with some superb folk acts from around the country and also some lower profile acts from around Witshire.
The great news is that our objective was to raise funds for a bigger Trowbridge Pump Festival next year - well that objective was achieved!
Patrick Kirkwan playing his fretless Buzzards Field Tintern onstage with the Mando Chutneys. Photo by Dave Pegg
A friend recently asked to have an electric steel string tin can ukulele built. He found this cool lunchbox in the style of an old radio, and Buzzards Field did the rest. The price was £150.
Get in touch if you'd like something similar (or completely different - its up to you!)
Prices for a custom build start at £120.
Etsy shop - Unusual Instruments
From time to time I will build prototypes or create variations on a theme just to see what happens. Occasionally, a build will go slightly wrong (usually aesthetic issues). Instead of letting them gather dust, I have set up an Etsy shop where I can offer them for sale at prices which reflect their flaws and/or their weirdness :)
If you would like to recieve a kit or an instrument without a Buzzards Field label, or in an ambigious rectangular box, please let us know when you order.
I've been testing out a set of the new Worth bass ukulele string sets, specially imported from China, and I have to say that I am actually pretty impressed. I like them!
Initially, when compared to the Aquila sets they do feel more rubbery - softer under the fingers which is not a sensation I particularly enjoy as they remind me of the Pahoe strings as fitted to Kalas. However, there is more stability in the poly material used and the strings are far more resistant to rolling under the finger than the Road Toad strings.
The strings come in bright red/orange which I also like (they go very well with my old Afan). Lets face it, if you are playing a bass ukulele in public, you are already inviting curiosity! I have had Aquila Thunder Reds on the Afan for a while (not my favorite stringset - inferior to the standard Thunderguts) because I didn't want to waste a set of strings, plus I wanted to see how long they would remain playable. The problem with the Reds is that they dent easily - fret impressions quickly become apparent. Although this doesn't overly effect he sound on the Reds, it does give you a sense of impending snappage (an issue that has been a problem on the Reds).
The Worths, despite regular playing for the past 2 months show no sign of fret marking at all! I think it because of the softer material used. There are no signs of thinning or stretching out over the nut either. They do inspire more confidence.
As to the sound - well there is a difference to the Aquilas. The volume is down noticeably - my Afan is now no louder than a standard Ubass acoustically (as you may know, the BF basses are usually double the volume you can expect from a Kala). Plugged in of course, this is not an issue. They have a slightly more muted sound - there is less sustain and attack but with that comes a character which I can only describe as more 'thumpy' or 'mature'. It is as though the EQ settings have been positioned so that the highs are cancelled out completely and the lower-mids have been pumped up to maximum. Like I said, I like this sound. It goes very well with the ukuleles, and accordions and other acoustic instruments I often find myself playing alongside.
As to the cost. At present, they are a fair wodge more expensive to add to the BFB range. However, I do expect to offer them as options on builds when I can negotiated a better discount from Worth. Fingers crossed!
Unfortunately, it looks as though the old buzzardsfieldbasses url is unsalvageable after the site was attacked by hackers. The flip side is that it has forced the creation of a new site - www.BuzzardsFieldUkuleles.co.uk, which is probably more appropriate given the expanding range of instruments now offered.
Have you booked tickets for the Grand Northern Ukulele Festival in Huddersfield yet? The Buzzards Field Basses stand will be there with a load of other sellers on the 28th of May, although the festival kicks off on the 27th and comes to a close on the 29th. It really is a nice festival with a great atmosphere and a whole bunch of terrific acts to enjoy. Highly recommended for any Northern ukers :)
Many thanks to the friendly folks at the Swindon Ukulele Club, who welcomed me and the stand this weekend. We all had a lovely time celebrating their 10th birthday. Apparently they are one of the first clubs to have set up in the country. I really enjoyed meeting everyone and am grateful for the chance to scare everyone with my singing too!
Ever heard of a cuatro? Well, they are a close relative of the baritone ukulele, but with a bassier, throatier. There could very well be a BFB conversion kit in the offing soon - watch this space.
With luck, BUB will be attending more festivals this year. I intend to be at the GUF as always, possibly the Northern and Southern festivals, as well as a smattering of other folk and family style festivals.
A new gazebo has been purchased - a sturdy construction from Gala this time, after the brand new popup collapsed and blew away at the end of the summer!
Its called the Friston and its the first instrument built entirely from raw parts in the workshop. Ultra compact but with a great tone, it is designed for use solely under amplification.
Not sure about this one - a happy accident in the workshop lead to this banjolele with tuners on the wrong end. Weighting is very pleasant though.
Cannocks will be back up on the site shortly. Awaiting a delivery of donors presently.
If you're interested, here're a few highlights from the survey:
Most of you play by yourself or with a group that gigs occasionally.
More than half of you don't have a bass section in your group.
Genres - all flavours, although folk, jazz pop and blues are most popular.
Unsurprisingly, uke, bass uke and guitar are the most commonly played instruments - violin viola and guitarlele are left collecting dust in the attic.
Ill leave the 'choosing instruments' section - you know what you do anyway.
In terms of new offerings, banjolele, bass banjolele and bass-diddly bow perked your interest the most, whereas the most requested instrument build is a solid bass uke.
Pleased to say that 99+% of you would like a BFB as a gift (maybe someone pressed the wrong button..?)
The majority of you live south of the midlands, although interestingly there are nearly as many of you in Europe and the US as there are oop north.
Three quarters of you are male and over 80% of you are 40+
So, there you are! Again - thanks to all of you who responded.
(Banjolele and bass bow well along the development path as we speak :)
Very pleased to announce that the happy winner of a new Buzzards Field bass ukulele from the 'have your say' draw is Eden Bluebell. Congratulations Eden! Thanks to everyone who took part and answered a few questions.
Well, it had to happen eventually; the last of the blue Afan stock has now been converted and sent on its way to its new owner. At present there are a few (..and I mean a few..) red Afans available but when they are all gone - that's it!
Its been a busy week in the Buzzards Field workshop this week. Rough prototypes have been built for banjolele, banjolele bass and bass diddly-bo style instrument. All of the instruments are great fun to play and look promising to be made into a DIY kit as well as pre built models - banjolele and diddly-bo in particular. Watch this space...
Happy to announce that the excellent Tom and Will bags are back in stock and will replace the Stagg bags previously offered.
Delighted to announce that the BGF stand will be appearing at the Trowbridge Village Pump Festival on the 24-26th July
and the Ukulele Festival of Great Britain, in Cheltenham on the 19-21st June
There have been a number of inquiries from overseas about postage. Up to now, I've been dealing with them on a case-to-case basis.
There has been a slight re-jiggle (technical term) on the site - a new page 'Postage Beyond the EU' has been added to allow orders to be made directly.
At the moment, you will only find USA, Australia and Brazil listed. If you would like your country listed, please let me know.
If you'd like to make a purchase via PayPal, you can buy through the FaceBook shop here.
Alternatively, get in touch with your order for a PayPal invoice via Email.
The BFB returns.refunds/exchanges policy is now online, and covers all purchases from this site, Ebay, Etsy, Amazon or Shoppify. View here.
If you want to purchase using PayPal, take a look at our Facebook shop Click here.