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31 Aug 2016
Back to Bass-ics

22 Jul 2016
About Plucking Time

Date: 7 Oct 2016

The mandolin pictured here is a family heirloom. My Grandmother (of Rob and Steve also) had this mandolin in her possession for decades, gathering dust in her loft. My Dad asked to borrow it in the 1980s to learn the instrument but, instead, it became a centrepiece of our sideboard for a while before gathering dust a second time.

With the writing of the songs for Phantom Islands, I decided I wanted to include a mandolin-based tremolo line (which is the quick plectrum-picking of the same note) on a track. This evolved into requiring a mandolin elsewhere on the album. But where to get one from? I knew Rob would probably be the likely source but could I borrow one for a decent amount of time? And then I remembered that old, dusty instrument on our sideboard in the 1980s.

A few months back, I asked my Dad if he still owned the instrument. Luckily he did. It was rusty, a little battered (which may have been my doing a few decades back) and the metallic strings were rusty. I took it home and tried to tune it but - alas - a couple of the strings snapped. It was indeed an old instrument.

I found out very recently that the mandolin belonged to my Great Uncle Jim (Nan's brother) whilst in the Royal Navy. He used to play it when he visited my Nan in the late 1940s. It appears that he kept it at hers so he didn't have to lug it about and could entertain the family when he popped by. At some point, he forgot to claim it back.

Almost seventy years later, it was taken to Courtney and Walker (our local music instrument specialists), declared in good basic condition, cleaned and restrung. It was given a new, sturdy case to reside in also.

So I'm proud that this venerable instrument will make an appearance on the new recordings. And, as a family heirloom, I'd be more than delighted for my cousins to use it too.


In memory of Ellen Charlton (1910 - 2009) - our Nan.

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