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Musical Instruments for Touring

Old 08-04-14, 08:02 AM
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Musical Instruments for Touring

Do you usually or have you ever carried a musical instrument on tour? I'd be interested in what others have carried and played.

I took up building stringed instruments as a hobby in my retirement. I have been honing a few designs for instruments specifically tailored to backpacking and bike touring. They include dulcimers, dulcimer variants, and guitar variants. I have focused on small, light, and easy to play instruments. The backpacking and touring ones weigh between about 4 ounces and about 15 ounces. They are designed to be especially easy to play and are ideal for beginners while still being fun for experienced musicians. I have been having a blast with them.

I am building them for sale on order, but do not want too much business, since this is a hobby and I want to keep it that way. I have been trying to balance between no orders and too many orders. It seems pretty easy for the demand to swing too far in either direction. That said if anyone is interested PM me.

A few of the ones I have been building are pictured below:


BTW: Is it OK to link to my etsy store and facebook page here? Or would that be spamming?
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Old 08-04-14, 10:36 AM
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I play the mandolin, I brought a Pocket Mandolin on my tour of Ireland and Scotland , I brought it to sit in at Pub Sessions ..
along the way ..

pocket violins and mandolins have a long tradition going back to the middle ages .

Or is this an ad to sell your stuff? dont let me interrupt then.. I suspect the site wants a seller's fee then..
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Old 08-04-14, 12:18 PM
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i always take my mouth along on a tour, so i've learned to whistle. but not like this guy...


the guitar and chamber orchestra (if that's what it is) are optional.

Last edited by hueyhoolihan; 08-04-14 at 12:24 PM.
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Old 08-04-14, 02:57 PM
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PM me a link if you don't want to post it here. I cant say I will buy anything, but would like to look.

I am a potter, and make ceramic ocarinas as a hobby. Carried one 1500 miles, and some shorter trips, but never really found much chance to play it. I made a custom on for myself that plays very quietly, so as not to be to irritating to anyone else. Its about 4.2 ounces. less than four inches long, and is a custom eleven hole tuning. A couple of the instruments I have made have been used in recording studios, so I guess I don't suck at it. Its possibly the dorkiest instrument ever, but hey, I ride my bike to comic book nerd fests.
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Old 08-04-14, 04:02 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
I play the mandolin, I brought a Pocket Mandolin on my tour of Ireland and Scotland , I brought it to sit in at Pub Sessions ..
along the way ..

pocket violins and mandolins have a long tradition going back to the middle ages .
Sounds like fun. I have seen and heard pocket mandolins, but the pocket violin is a new one on me.

Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Or is this an ad to sell your stuff? dont let me interrupt then.. I suspect the site wants a seller's fee then..
No I am actually interested in what others are doing. I don't actually want to promote my stuff too much. It would be pretty easy for the demand to exceed what I want to build. As I said it is a hobby and I probably make minimum wage for what I sell. It is nice to have a slow trickle of orders to keep my hobby going and I figured there may be some small amount of interest here without too much danger of swamping me with demand.

Not sure where the line is drawn here on this. I'd be happy to edit my post to eliminate any mention of sales if I have overstepped.
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Old 08-04-14, 04:04 PM
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Harmonicas are an easy instrument to carry and are very satisfying and relaxing to play. I imagine those small guitars would be too. I worry about the price though, and the fact they need to be securely weather sealed when traveling.
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Old 08-04-14, 04:18 PM
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More recently i dropped big bucks on a Carbon Fiber Mandolin*, were I to take another long trip,
I'd find a way to carry it along , likely a Bike trailer .. *its on its second set of frets after wearing out the original ones .

locally I have an Acoustic amplifier that will carry with the mandolin in it's case in a Burly Flat Bed Trailer ..

a few years ago crossed paths with a woman self promoting singer-songwriter ,,
she has a Rainsong brand Carbon fiber Guitar in a styrofoam (like a bike helmet) case ..
carried on one side of an Extracycle long tail kit added to a C'dale Bike .

touring the coast , and playing gigs when she could set them up. carbon fiber solves a lot of issues
that a glued together wooden instrument is subject to..

there are CF Orchestral stringed instruments as well.. Violins to Basses YoYoMa has one of their cellos
for when the Strad [worth many millions] is too precious to bring .
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Old 08-04-14, 04:27 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
*its on its second set of frets after wearing out the original ones.
Are the frets are carbon fiber? Or did you wear out metal ones? How much playing did it take to wear them out? Hundreds of hours? Thousands? More?
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Old 08-04-14, 04:39 PM
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the fingerboard is traditional ebony and the frets are metal ..a nickel alloy . new frets are a bit harder alloy so may last longer. the fret under the harder steel strings, notches.

I got the thing originally , 3rd hand [2nd owner in GA].. made lots of little notes in the 5 years I've owned it ..

there was a pesky higher B note where the unison pair went into a dissonant off pitch interval .



the Orchestral instruments have a Carbon fingerboard , but they of course are not fretted .
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Old 08-04-14, 05:28 PM
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Originally Posted by NealH View Post
Harmonicas are an easy instrument to carry and are very satisfying and relaxing to play.
They look like fun and I like the sound. I keep threatening to buy myself one and give it a try.
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Old 08-04-14, 07:15 PM
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I brought my soprano uke on a 3-day tour once, testing the waters to see if I'd play it enough to buy a "pocket" uke just for this purpose. Didn't take it out once!
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Old 08-04-14, 07:42 PM
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Musical Instruments for Touring

I carry a full sized classical guitar previously in a hard case, but now with soft cases.
Due to airline baggage rules I now buy a new guitar at destination and give it away at the end of the trip. Due to my seasonal work I tour in winter.
Yamaha C40 (about $100) ia a go to.
I am considering 3/4 size thanks to all the weight weeny talk here
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Old 08-04-14, 08:25 PM
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My nephew had just started playing the fiddle when he did his cross-country tour, from Oregon to Maine (furthest west to furthest east in the contiguous states). By the end of his trip, he was playing like a pro.

Me, I would bring along a couple of harmonicas and a penny whistle. Nice and compact, and they go well with other instruments. I don't know how to play the penny whistle, but if I do a long tour, it will be a great chance to learn! I've played the harmonica since about 1976, learned from a high school teacher who used to ride the rails as a hobo in the Depression.
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Old 08-05-14, 07:57 AM
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For you harmonica players... What would you recommend a beginner buy. I read somewhere that a diatonic 10 hole in C was a good place to start. Does that sound right? I know from the dulcimer that diatonic simplifies things greatly. It seems like a diatonic 10 hole harmonica should be making music like noise pretty quickly even for a beginner

How much would you spend? Something cheap or spring for a Hohner Marine Band or similar?
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Old 08-05-14, 08:14 AM
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Wooden comb harmonica have given way to plastic .. less prone to warping by spit.. Lee Oskar is well regarded ..

here is a range to look over

Harmonicas | Guitar Center
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Old 08-05-14, 12:12 PM
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Most Steinway concert grands have wheels.
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Old 08-05-14, 12:46 PM
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Interesting post. I've given some thought to bringing an instrument so I can join in/encourage music while camping or warmshowering, but all I've got is a tambourine. I'm pretty sure it would drive me crazy no matter how well packed on the road. Maybe I'll take up the spoons.
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Old 08-06-14, 11:22 AM
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I used to be able to play the recorder. I will have to dust it off and start practicing.
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Old 08-06-14, 01:07 PM
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Originally Posted by jamawani View Post
Most Steinway concert grands have wheels.
so did this one, and for the same reason.



only plays one note though...
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Old 08-07-14, 12:14 PM
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I've been making guitars since about 97. I got taken with the idea of making a UKE recently, seems to be hot. My reason was I saw a Baritone, and it plays like a samll classical guitar, not that those don't already exist in many historic forms.

Strum Sticks are another fun and small thing to make, or use.
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Old 08-07-14, 01:15 PM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
For you harmonica players... What would you recommend a beginner buy. I read somewhere that a diatonic 10 hole in C was a good place to start. Does that sound right? I know from the dulcimer that diatonic simplifies things greatly. It seems like a diatonic 10 hole harmonica should be making music like noise pretty quickly even for a beginner

How much would you spend? Something cheap or spring for a Hohner Marine Band or similar?
The diatonic 10 hole is a good place to start - although if you're musically talented and willing to stick with it the sound from a well played chromatic will stop people in their tracks. Marine Band are the best models imho. In general, harmonicas are not expensive so get the Hohner MB.
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Old 08-07-14, 01:31 PM
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Originally Posted by NealH View Post
The diatonic 10 hole is a good place to start - although if you're musically talented and willing to stick with it the sound from a well played chromatic will stop people in their tracks. Marine Band are the best models imho. In general, harmonicas are not expensive so get the Hohner MB.
The MB isn't all that expensive, so I will probably pick one up and give it a go. I recall a favorite uncle playing one back in my childhood, so I give it an edge for that reason.
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Old 08-07-14, 01:35 PM
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Originally Posted by NealH View Post
The diatonic 10 hole is a good place to start - although if you're musically talented and willing to stick with it the sound from a well played chromatic will stop people in their tracks. Marine Band are the best models imho. In general, harmonicas are not expensive so get the Hohner MB.
The MB isn't all that expensive, so I will probably pick one up and give it a go. I recall a favorite uncle playing one back in my childhood, so I give the Marine Band an edge for that reason.
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Old 08-07-14, 01:38 PM
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Fwiw, Cross harp harmonica technique you get 2 keys out of the same Harp Cross Harp vs. Straight Harp | Wildflower Harmonica Instruction


Most Steinway concert grands have wheels.
but they are small so there are Grand Piano Dollys https://www.pianosupplies.com/pianos/M542.html

and Pool table dollys too ..

Last edited by fietsbob; 08-07-14 at 01:41 PM.
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Old 08-07-14, 09:28 PM
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I usually just whistle, in fact so much I drive people nuts. Pretty good at it to, or at least I've been told.

Not cycle touring, but a couple years back I picked up a half working pocket Bb trumpet was hiking around Nepal with it. Good fun to be sitting in the Himalayas rocking out some Jazz tunes
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