Monday, 14 March 2016

The Homemade Instruments of Charles Birch

Charles Birch Playing his first Homemade fiddle.

I am an occasional member of the Watchet Makers Club one of the first meetings I went to, I met an elderly fellow Called Charles Birch and we got chatting and realised we both make musical instruments. He let me have is number and invited me over but I lost the number which annoyed me greatly. Anyway a year later he called me out of the blue so I finally went to meet him.

Charles Birch is a very healthy 86 years old and started making Instruments In the 90's  and is still kept busy with making and repairing and restoring folk instruments.

He makes fiddles, Cellos. Bowed Psaltery's, Ukuleles and upright double Basses. A friend of mine who I jam with has one of his Basses. It's a behemoth with an amazingly thumpy tone.

The first instrument Charles Made. A fiddle made from a chocolate Box.

Charles makes these with a few hand tools.   They are all built out of recycled timber with bought hardware.
They are solid as a rock and quite heavy but that doesn't detriment from the sound of them. Unfortunately I don't play fiddle or cello or bowed psaltery so my efforts where terrible. although The psaltery quite fascinated me.  Charles kindly demonstrated his skill at playing them for me. and they sounded great, much better than you would expect .

Charles playing his Cello

A bowed Psaltery

Another Fiddle

Its great to meet a fellow builder of "homemade" Instruments and amazing to think he has been building ans successfully selling  them regularly long before the current internet driven popularity.

Antony Moggridge

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