I’m in the process of rationalizing my instrument collection and its been a great opportunity to review what I want to keep. I have 4 main areas where I find value in keeping musical instruments

  • For writing purposes – different instruments inspire different ideas and different playing
  • For live work – The Small Change Diaries and The Caravan of Dreams both mean me playing a range of instruments as the music is quite diverse. Most of these instruments have pickups
  • For recording work. I tend to mostly use Shimos in the studio and Collings instruments as well as my Howlett tenor. All are fantastic acoustically and brilliant for recording
  • For investment purposes – Some instruments really appreciate in value. Of course if they are also great playing instruments then all the better!

Over a period of time musical tastes and musical reference points can also change. My first ukulele was a pre production Collings concert that sounds terrific and Collings no longer make ukuleles. I also own 2 other concert Collings ukes and a tenor. These are “keepers” My Collings family include an electric I35, a tenor acoustic and a 6 string acoustic. Most people know that I am a massive fan of Shimos and I own five to date. Two of these are Comet 3s which I have used in recording over 25 tracks. The 5 string LAX Shimo, pineapple and walnut concert are also “keepers” 

The instruments that tend to get moved on are usually perfectly good, but for various reasons I don’t play a great deal. Some of them I like, but don’t truly love. Sometimes I have other instruments that are similar, but just sound and play better. I have 5 ukes from one British maker, two are my main playing instruments for live work and these are keepers. However three others are nice, but don’t fit into my four point consideration plan.

I’m lucky to be able to travel a great deal and explore instruments in Japan, USA and Europe. Some of the most fascinating finds have been genuine surprises. My Gregor Nowak guitarelle has been an inspiration for playing and the Peter Lieberman soprano is fascinating and nothing like anything else I own. My 1920s Martin from NYC is also a definite keeper and really different. 

The best musical instruments inspire playing and bring great joy. If its not to me personally, then I like to think they are going to a good home!

shimo ukulele

shimo ukulele

Instrument keepers and passers through…

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