Author Archive | nick cody

The uke-connection by Mia Lotus

One of the things that fascinates me and that I like the most about the ukulele is how it connects people. Of course all instruments and all types of music have this power, but because of it’s characteristics, the ukulele makes this connection so easy in many ways!
 shimo ukuleleAs a multi-instrumentalist I have had the chance to know many different types of “communities” virtual and real, of different types of players, instruments and styles. I started piano at 4, played in punk bands as a teen, I was trained in classical and jazz guitar at university, I sang in choirs, played in all kinds of bands, created electronic music, met with the banjo, harp, cello, and even dulcimer communities on the net…. But nothing could ever prepare me for the ukulele folks!!
 Peace, Love, Ukulele…  it says it all… After having been through the crazy punk rock scene, and to the other extreme: the rigidity and competition of the classical music world, to meet with the ukulele community was like a breeze of fresh air!
 What is it about the ukulele that makes it so special? First it is so easy to learn: anyone can play a C chord, and most people can pick up a ukulele for the first time and play a song under a hour: how amazing and fun is that!
 It’s so small and you can carry it anywhere, jam with anyone anytime! Because it is so small you can have many people together in the same room playing together, that would not be possible with the guitar and it’s longer neck. That is why you have so many ukulele clubs and not many guitar clubs!
 The ukulele sounds really great when played in gang: when everyone plays together the acoustic volume of the ukulele make it possible to hear yourself along with the rest. I have hear someone say that even if half the people in his ukulele club can’t get the right note, it still sounds great! I have experienced that in my ukulele club, it is true, and I believe it has to do with the acoustic qualities of the uke. Not all instruments would give the same results: can you imagine how would sound a club of banjo or violin, especially if most people were beginners? I like to imagine how would be bagpipe clubs or harp clubs… How would the world be today if noseflute clubs were popular instead of ukulele clubs?
 The ukulele brings the fun of playing music together possible to people of all levels and all ages. Even kids and old people who never played an instrument before can learn the ukulele easily. This creates a climate of fun and family.
People of all levels get together for the fun of playing music in group!
From what I’ve seen and experienced, the motivation of those people is much greater than if they were alone. People share their knowledge of chords and other techniques and the progress is sometimes so impressive in little time!
 This climate of fun and family that emerged from the uke clubs can also be seen on the net! The ukulele community is probably one of the most fun and active community of players on the internet: they share videos, scores, knowledge in a climate of fun and no competition that naturally emerged from the “real” ukulele club to the “virtual” ones: the forums, Facebook groups, and sites like this very fine one.
 It fascinates me to see people from all over the world sharing their love for the ukulele and connecting online and communicating easily with the help of translators now.
Now we can even see the people play live on our phone  or tablet, from across the planet, with the help of technology. Then those virtual connection sometimes becomes real! I have seen ukulele bands travel around the world, with minimal equipment, at minimal cost, using their network and connections over the world to find them gigs and places to stay. The ukulele folks are always fun, open and welcoming, and all over the world you can now find this feeling of the big ukulele family!
I think this is a beautiful phenomenon and it is indeed very well resumed in the phrase:  Peace, Love, Ukulele!!
 Let’s spread the love of music and, the fun of playing together, and take over the world one uke at the time!

The Impending Famine by Matt Hicks

What is it to “find ones voice” in both writing and performing?

This is a huge question for many performers and songs writers young and old in this day and age. It is also associated with a considerable amount of anxiety.
Just this week we heard that Ed Sheeran is being sued by the family of Ed Townshend who wrote “Let’s get it on” because Sheerans song “Thinking out loud.” Copied the heart of this Marvin Gaye song.
It is the second time in two years that someone has been sued for plagiarising Marvin Gaye songs. To me it sums up what is wrong with our increasingly warped view of songwriting as an industry and as a pass time. I am not suggesting we give up ownership of one’s songs or creations. Artists have a hard time as it is making a living from writing and performing, but I I can’t help thinking that law suits such as this only serve to starve creativity and “finding ones voice”.  And whilst this is a situation only likely to affect the song writers who make the most money, may I remind you that it wasn’t long ago that Ed Sheeran was holed up in a cottage writing songs with Amy Wadge as an unknown hopeful.
The idea of ownership of music and lyrics is not a new idea but the extent and depth of how one can be sued is. If we used today’s law, you could probably sue every blues player that exists through linking their music to a previous artist.
Music is a communal activity. Admittedly whilst there is something very fulfilling about belting out your favourite song in the shower, chances are you’re imagining an adoring audience. We make music to be listened to and responded to. This is why over hundreds of generations , it has served as such a good medium for telling stories.
I once played “drunken sailor” in a gig once. During the middle of the song a Morris dancer stopped me abruptly and very aggressively pointed out that I wasn’t playing or singing it in keeping with its recording as no 322 in the Roud Folk song index. I was genuinely in fear for my life at the point but it did inspire me to go back and look at the history of the song. What amazes me was how it had literally evolved as it was passed through merchant and fishing communities, changing according to the people that owned it for themselves to tell their own stories. It seems almost perverse then that it should be laid down in stone or ink on a copyrighted page never to change again. The story is over, the song becomes historical as opposed to heritage and part of our future. The young no longer keep it treasured because it has no relevance to their identity of being.
That’s the price we pay for ownership of a song. Whilst it may well end up recorded and revered, actually I wonder whether it could ever be immortalised as much as a song such as drunken sailor which has been sung and adapted over hundreds of years.
So the major issues to me are. In a climate of ownership and copyright, how is someone going to feel able to imitate, innovate, and absorb those that have come before them? I will always maintain that I would probably have never found my songwriting and performing voice without Neil Finn, Ray Lamontagne and Kelly Joe Phelps. I have been hugely influenced as a song writer by Norah Jones and Tom Waits. I dare say that should one of my songs ever make money, there might be grounds at some point to sue me. It’s unavoidable because music and its genres rely on imitation and a natural desire to carry on a tradition. To find a platform on which to tell a story. If the threat of legal action looms at every corner of the song writing process, we risk losing a heritage of creativity that has existed almost since the dawn of humanity.
Yet interestingly there are some areas of the music industry where this isn’t an issue. It would seem that in the world of dance music, there is a forum through which imitation and plagiarism are almost requirements . I don’t know how this works but somehow the copyright lawyers are holding back because everyone knows his approach makes the most money. This kind of takes me to my next issue. Community.
The music industry has taken songwriting to the point where it is highly individualised. One name is attributed to one person. And yet if you look at the credits you will often see a team of songwriters. Music is best written in community. Music exists to bring people together and it thrives on performance, interaction, innovation, celebration. It transcends generations both past and future. I guess this is why I love bluegrass and folk music so much. Music that spawns from generations of families and communities jointly owning a genre or technique or song. It is why the ukulele community is so precious to me. We are seeing a sea of excellent writing emerging without that craving to bag it up and lob it onto the music industry cart. At least not at the moment

Why create something new?

I was recently on a social media forum talking about music festivals and one promoter commented (I paraphrase) “We know what people want, its just about giving it to them”  The same day I’d been watching an interview with Ricky Gervais about his process for writing and producing TV shows and movies. He talked about not using focus groups for his work and the need for creating original creative work. Whether you like his humour of writing, one thing is clear, he has been highly successful in his career which only started in his late 30s.

I love the old classic songs, especially from the early 1970s. Many of the best albums were created during that period including “Blood on the Tracks” “Hejira” and “Sticky Fingers” Neil Young also released the seminal “Ditch trio” of albums “Tonight’s the Night” “On the Beach” and “Time fades away”. The record company were shocked that after the commercial best selling “Harvest” album, he would take such a radical turn. In subsequent years his record company tried to sue him for making “uncommercial music” Neil of course remains one of the best selling global artists, uncompromising in his attitude.

My point is that the best artists strive to do more than just give the public what they have always had, they do something extraordinary, often talking a risk in doing so. I applaud such folks. If we want a musical work that stretches beyond “X factor” production line music and simply recycling existing ideas, then that requires doing something new. Gervais made this exact point in another interview and I  agree totally with this view.

“You should make something. You should bring something into the world that wasn’t in the world before. It doesn’t matter what it is. It doesn’t matter if it’s a table or a film or gardening-everyone should create. You should do something, then sit back and say, ‘I did that.'”

In 2017 there will be phase three of Original Ukulele Songs. I have no idea how it will turn out, that’s part of the fascination of course…

nick cody


Guest Blog from Matt Hicks aka “Redshirt”

Why write and perform songs on the ukulele?

Now there’s a question.

matt hicksSo I’ve been writing songs long enough that I can barely recall when I first put pen to paper. That’s not me boasting about my ability. I also did springboard diving for quite a while but never managed to perform a dive that looked any different from a really clumsy burial at sea. What I am saying though is that I’ve been writing and performing long enough to know what most songwriters go through. I’ve bled my soul into a microphone only for some old soak to ask if I can play anything decent like Oasis. I’ve stood and played for hours in a room full of people where only one person actually acknowledges you exist like you’re a ghost appearing to Haley Joel Osmet (“I see dead people”). Being a singer songwriter can be the most thankless, invisible activity. If you want to break a narcissist, tell them to write and perform songs. Regardless of how good you are, you will at some point experience all of the above.
Up until about 5 years ago I was a guitarist who played the ukulele. I have to say however that since taking it up the Uke has turned things around to me being a ukukeleist who plays guitar. Despite my rock chick wife buying me a Stratocaster electric guitar to distract me, when I write a song, I always now reach for the Uke.
Now writing on the Uke hasn’t been some strategy to jump on the good ship Novelty. There are far too many ukes and their owners about now to say the Uke has novelty value. Those of you who demand a rendition of Van Halens Eruption on a soprano will be sadly disappointed. That said as a performer , I see far more interest in the Uke than I ever did when I played guitar. Is it a mix of people liking ukes like they did electric guitars when they first appeared? Is it that there’s an saturation of male sensitive flowers with acoustic guitars that a bloke playing solely Uke is something refreshingly different? I can’t really comment. I can only comment on my own perception of what it has done for me.
For the first time in 25 years I can safely sit here and say that I am really satisfied about what I’m writing at the moment. More so than I ever was with my six string friend. Maybe it’s simply that I’ve matured a little enough to get over myself and am no longer a pretentious perfectionist. Maybe it’s because I no longer write to try and meet a market demand. And maybe it’s a coincidence that whilst all this has happened, I’ve been playing the Uke. Maybe that’s all true but there are a few things that I know for certain which I think are worth mentioning and why, I think, any song writer should, at some point try writing on the ukulele.
Have you ever tried to park a car in an empty car park? Have you ever wondered why it’s harder to do so than it is in a car park with only one space left? No? Must be only me but when I park in the former I just can’t decide which bay to go for and when I do I nearly always park squiff. In a full car park, there’s less choice and more parameters. If you don’t park straight you’ll hit a car. For me the Uke is similar. It’s why it’s an easy instrument to get the basics sussed but it also means that if you want to play it well you have to play it well. If you don’t you’ll crash. You can kind of get away with playing relatively competently on the guitar. It’s why the acoustic is such a favourite for song writing. This isn’t the only aspect.
The ukulele is an easy instrument to start on but it places demands on you when writing and performing. I firmly believe that a bad song will never work on a ukulele no matter how good you are at playing it. That’s why when I complete a song on the uke and I’m happy with it, I know  it’s going to be a song relatively strong enough to keep a crowd interested. I challenge any guitarist to spend a shirt spell only writing in a uke and see what happens.
The other aspect is that when you play a song on a uke, you have no choice but to perform. The ukulele somehow demands that you have to deliver your personality or alter ego alongside the song your singing. Don’t ask me why but you do.
All in all the ukulele is a bit like one if those special braces that runners fit to constrain their chest and build up exercise tolerances. The uke demands that you fine tune your writing, singing, playing and performing skills.
Now this is if course my opinion and mine alone. It may just be that I never wrote particularly great songs on the guitar. Either way, what I’ve said isn’t a general rule but I hope it gives some insight into this songwriters mindset
 (Thanks to Matt Hicks for this guest post. Also see

Working behind the scenes on original ukulele songs

The next few months will involve a lot of behind the scenes work on phase 3 of Original Ukulele Songs. I have already been in meetings and discussions about this and more will be revealed later in 2016 and fully revealed in 2017. The idea for OUS was for a BIG project that would be more than just a social media presence and more than this website! As I have always said this isn’t “Nick Cody’s project” but rather “Our project” which belongs equally to all those involved at every level. The success of OUS is down to collaborations and explorations between artists.

From the moment I started writing with the ukulele I was totally convinced by how this tiny instrument could be used to create really excellent music. I am massively reassured that there are artists globally who have the same view and such artists will help change the stereotypical view that many have of the ukulele as a “novelty instrument!” One of the key aims of OUS is to gather together the best and most creative artists around and those who are interested in the pursuit of creating excellent original songs. I blogged about the pursuit of excellence here

OUS started last November and so far I have been really pleased with the enthusiasm and support from all those involved in the project!

nick cody



Future Plans for The Original Ukulele Songs Project…

I have always said that The Original Ukulele Songs Project will have a number of phases. Although I initiated OUS, I consider it not to be “Nick Cody’s” project, but rather “our project” as contributing artists. The original FB page now has close to 2000 members in just 6 months with new material from all over the globe posted on a daily basis. This initial enthusiasm was a catalyst for creating this site which is phase 2 of OUS. Phase three will appear in 2017 and is considerably more work than anything to date.

martin simpsonI am currently writing up an article for Uke Magazine about Martin Simpson’s take on the ukulele. Martin is a world class musician best known for his guitar playing, but has already recorded with the ukulele on past albums. He commented

“The ukulele, is a little tiny thing with four strings, which are gut strings or nylon strings.  It speaks limitation immediately.  Now I really like that, I really like, and so my response to it was to say “ok you little thing, let’s doing something which brings out the quality of the instrument.  Let’s do something which doesn’t attempt to be anything but an investigation of what this little thing can do, in a very clear way”.

Martin Simpson

My own experience is that the ukulele is a fantastic writing tool because of its limitations! I also love to see it being used in ways that really explore what the instrument can do. Yes I’m fine with people strumming “old classics” BUT why not see what else we can do in a more creative and inspirational way? Martin Simpson is a great example of an artist doing this and Aaron from “The Quiet American” at The Grand Northern Ukulele Festival was another great example of someone using the uke in what is for me a more creative way.

OUS to create something new

The focus of OUS is to do just this and by doing so to create something quite extraordinary as well as changing the stereotypical view that many have of this instrument. I’m fully aware that OUS will to a degree polarize opinions, but I’m fine with that. The key is to provoke new discussion and exploration. When we create ORIGINAL songs we are in my view doing far more than simply recycling previous material. Yes, I love great covers, but as I repeatedly say “How about something new?”

The momentum and development of OUS on a larger scale depends mostly on the collective contributions of all the artists involved. The different phases mean everyone can participate at some level and collectively we can produce something quite extraordinary. Phase 3 will be quite groundbreaking, watch this space, it’s already in motion…

NC June 2016

nick cody






We are live!

After a great deal of tweaking technology, we are now live here with this site being phase two of Original Ukulele Songs.

I know some folks have wondered what all the fuss is about on the Original Ukulele Songs Phase 1 FB page, BUT the Original Ukulele Songs Project was of course always going to be BIGGER than just adding a page on social media…

As already mentioned on the “about us page” phase two is not to be viewed in some hierarchical way in terms of song quality (and it’s definitely not like some X Factor where phase 2 is “the next round” to some imagined glory), but another ingredient in the whole OUS project. One of the criteria for artists  invited here are those who are really pushing the envelope lyrically and/or musically in terms of using the ukulele.

All ukulele artists creating and playing ORIGINAL ukulele based songs are welcome to apply online but not everyone will immediately make it onto this site!

I would personally like to thanks to all those artists who have contributed to this page to date  making it another exciting chapter in the bigger Original Ukulele Songs project.  I am literally blown away by the enthusiasm and quality of the material submitted and phase 3 of OUS will appear in 2017

Warm Regards

Nick Cody

Nick cody




The H – Z of Ukulele Magic at the foot of the mountain – Interviewing Pete Howlett

It’s often said that fact is stranger than fiction. With this in mind what exactly are the chances of a bagpipe playing German ukulele builder, and a ukulele artisan of 23 year’s standing, working together at the foot of the glorious Welsh mountains?
Earlier this year I discovered the answer to this question for myself when I visited Pete Howlett and his assistant Tommy Ziegenspeck. I arrived at the workshop early one Saturday morning, which is at the foot of a quite breath taking mountain with (that day) a dusting of snow on the top. I had planned to interview both Pete and Tommy for a couple of hours, as I was mindful that it was the weekend and I didn’t want to intrude on their private time. I actually stayed for hours and quite frankly I could have kept going, if it wasn’t for having to get back to Leeds for other commitments. Pete’s generosity is also reflected massively in many other ways, including this year he is working with Uke magazine to offer a gift Howlett to a nonprofessional deserving player.
I started the interview by asking Pete about his philosophy for building instruments
“The reason I build ukes is I have a short attention span. I am 61 , I have Parkinson’s, I have an undefined future. What I want to do is to produce a product which people say “gosh that is so good “-which has that magic to it! I also get asked a lot of technical questions about what I do and I haven’t got an answer!
I failed physics as a kid and I can’t maintain my machinery because I don’t understand what they do I don’t understand science! I am not technical in the least which astonishes people!
In blues parlance it is mojo, in artistic parlance it is being that artist that enables you to put something together intuitively because you love what you do
I often quote Hokusai who is the Japanese print maker who printed “The Wave “. He made that when he was 73 and thought he was just about learning how to do it, and said by 86 he may have understood, and said at 90 if I am granted that-he may know what to do, and the idea is that effectively he is saying that it takes a long time to get to the point where you get to know what you are doing.  After about 22 years I am sure footed enough that I know what I am doing when I am doing it, but ask me how it works and I have no idea!
Holtzafel was an ornamental turner and he wrote a book called “An Ornamental Turning” and he said a really important thing- he said that the finish on the work is never as good as the finish on the tool- and if you link that with what Coleridge said -which is that poetry is the best words in the best order- you have the 2 principles about making.
Making is about taking the best materials that you have and putting them together in the best way possible, to respect those materials, to do the very best that you can, to take what God has created in my system, and make it as beautiful as it naturally is, and to make sure you have respect, not only for the materials, but all the tools that you use.
The idea is to always have in my mind the following when I come to work “hands to work hearts to God” This way you build for a perfect supreme being who is going to judge your work, so your peer is a perfectionist who is going to judge your work, so what would you do?
You would have to get it as good as you can. That is a quotation from the Quakers in Pennsylvania and when you look at their work you see perfection in simplicity and that is what am aiming for. I wouldn’t have a ukulele that looked like a piece of art.”
Pete also made the point that he specialises only in making ukuleles and how the internet has become a game changer in communicating to a wider audience. This is no surprise to me as he has a very active FB group and a well-designed and informative website
 “I’ve started the business 4 times because the internet and the ukulele consciousness wasn’t there at the time but I kept going. I am the first ukulele maker in the UK who concentrates solely on ukuleles I don’t make any other instruments”
One of the many things that struck me about talking to Pete and Tommy is that they have a total love for creating great instruments.  This means an almost obsessive attention to detail to ensure that all work is of the finest quality.
“When you are building there is a tightrope walk between it falling apart and holding together. You often think as a luthier as you work in isolation you know where you are in building and what works and what doesn’t.  It is kind of interesting that boutique builders have a different take on what they do than production builders…”
We also talked about the resurgence in interest for the ukulele and Pete made a very interesting observation
“Everyone quotes the 1984 George Harrison memorial concert with Paul McCartney and Jo brown on uke but it wasn’t that which lit the spark it was the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain playing Smells like Teen Spirit on Jools Holland”
Pete describes Tommy as “a luthier” and himself as “an artisan” and with some degree of humour today reconfirms this on his Facebook page –
“Just so you know – there is only one luthier working at Pete Howlett Ukulele; his name is Tom Ziegenspeck. Pete is an artisan builder, autodidact who by doing has become multi skilled across a range of disciplines. I think he could say with absolute assurance he is leading Tommy gradually astray down the artisan pathway… smile emoticon Let’s hope they both don’t get lost and one of them has the sense to keep their phone fully charged and the other brings a torch!”
Tommy is in his own right a skilled builder and brought some of his instruments for us to see. It was interesting to note the differences and similarities between these and Pete’s designs. Tommy’s ukuleles are also extremely well made, and noticeably heavier than the Howletts. It’s clear to me that there’s a great deal of mutual affection and respect between Pete and Tommy and Pete was keen when we set up the interview that we should also interview his bagpipe playing colleague from Germany! The standout instrument was Tommy’s harp ukulele, that plays as great as it looks and clearly caught Pete’s attention!
“The thing which really did it for me was his degree masterpiece! I looked it and thought “This is a perfect piece”, it warrants its degree award and qualification. Very rarely do you get a perfect piece…When you are building there are anomalies which you are trying to resolve but rarely do you get a perfect piece!”
what interested you in ukes how did you first get into building them?
“I started playing classical guitars at 6 years old, and I had a really good classical training, and my plan was to study classical guitar, and then I came into a guitar workshop because my instrument needed a repair and I thought “wow “and I asked him for an internship. A few days became a few weeks and he told me about the instrument making university in Germany, so I applied for a place, and they took me. Then I started studying, I specialised in plucked instruments. The first 2 years I made classical guitars, then a friend gave me a really nice small set and I couldn’t make a guitar out of it ,so I made a ukulele just for fun and I really enjoyed it.
In the 3rd year of study you have to do a longer internship for half a year and I asked for one at a guitar making workshop, but I really WANTED a ukulele making workshop, so I searched on the internet and an American Uke maker recommended Pete. “
“This was 2014 for 4 and a half months, after which I went back to Germany and finished my study. We had chats over the internet, his work is great and he was abroad which was important for me, and at this moment I was not really well informed about the ukulele scene so Pete was really the only one good instrument maker I knew. At the moment I would still say the same so it was a rally good decision to get into this workshop”
so what makes for a really good instrument for you?
“I’m a guy who really likes a bit of character in an instrument, visual character, not too much, just a character. The feeling is important when you take the instrument out of the case, this decides whether you like it or not, and of course the most importation thing the tone”
in building do you have a favourite wood or construction?
“For my ukuleles because I was classically trained I still use some guitar making techniques inside the instrument.You need a good design, a shape can be nice or just awful, the way you work on the instrument the quality of hand work -the first thing I do when I take an instrument is to check whether it is well made or not ,this is important as a luthier to do a really good quality build. Pete totally changed my head. When I first came here it was to do what the customer wants-so it takes 1 and a half months to build a ukulele ,but this is not practical ,so Pete taught me how to make good quality in a reasonable time. He showed me how to get a really good routine, this was really great and I see how a running business works now, so it is a really good experience for me”
What is your routine on a weekly basis?
“We don’t have a big plan about what I do and what Pete does, but we are in a good relationship, in the workshop it just works. Pete has his favourite parts, so do I.I like to do all the finishes stuff, and set up. Pete really likes making the necks, so everyone has his favourite parts to do”
“Tommy carves a Tommy neck shape; I build a Pete neck shape. When it comes to the neck we do a completely different process, the rest we do much the same. With my health I am restricted with my movements, so Tommy does finishes and detailing, and I do the necks. Tommy is better at finishing than me. it’s one of the things which Tommy really excels at!”
As an outside observer I can confirm Pete’s comments. The finishes on the three ukuleles Tommy brought for me to look at are excellent. Similarly, all his finishes on Howlett’s are similarly excellent and this is one of many reasons why this partnership works so well.
Tommy is also a very accomplished player and during our interaction when Tommy had one of Pete’s ukuleles in his hands there was a slightly surreal moment when Pete shouts out
“JAKE IT TOMMY!” who then proceeds to play “While my guitar gently weeps” with some relish.
Pete commented “Yes all instruments are “Jaked…”
“Team Howlett” is clearly in full demand and I for one am not at all surprised that there is so much interest in these instruments. Tommy brings additional energy to the creative process and it was quite fascinating to see these guys in action.
“Tommy brings the energy of youth he would work 12 hours every day if I let him but I tell him to go home. He has a great vision of where he wants to be and is very fixed in his mind as to where he wants to be. At some point in the future he really does need his own business, and he needs to take everything from this that he needs to take back to Germany with him. If he can build on what he has learnt from here, then he can take that back to his own market.”
“If I was in Germany now I would never have the chance to make so many instruments, and that is important at this time in my life to make so many instruments.”
“It really helped me to make those instruments for Hawaii really early on in 1994
carving that number of necks every month teaches you how to carve necks, hand bending difficult woods repeatedly, having loads of repeatable constant exercises to do, it is priceless to be able to do that, to learn how to do tasks ,and I can give that to Tommy. I’m about sharing my work and it is so worthwhile sharing that with Tommy, as I know he will do something with it. He has a passion for this and we have so much fun!”
Regardless of Tommy’s input it’s clear that Pete is pretty driven and has a genuine love for creating the very best instruments possible. Like all smart creative individuals, he has a genuine curiosity and love for what he does which is reflected in the final builds.
“I am hoping to get to Hawaii this year. I am in the second round interview for a Winston Churchill travelling fellowship, so next week I am in London being interviewed for that.
If I am successful, my project is to meet luthiers in America and Hawaii and to discuss with them building techniques, then write the definitive book.  I am a religious person and I believe I am living in a world which has been created for me, and there is a spiritual aspect to everything that I make, which I think is where instruments find themselves.”
I highly recommend checking out Pete’s site as well as his FB group page and YouTube channel.
Tommy’s site is
Harp Ukulele photos courtesy of Tommy Ziegenspeck
All other photos courtesy of Susan Elton

The Small Change Diaries

The Small Change Diaries are an acoustic ensemble dedicated to created original acoustic music for the head and heart. The band was formed in 2014 and released the debut album “Adam blames Eve” in 2015 and “Protest Songs” EP in 2016. We are passionate about creating original music using the very best acoustic instruments to create the very best sounds both on recorded material and in live settings.

You can find us on Facebook, ITunes, Twitter, Spotify and Bandcamp.

See the latest movie short of Birdman below –

Nick Cody Vocals, ukulele and other instruments, Jessica Bowie, Ukulele and other instruments, Adrian Knowles Double bass and U – Bass, Rich Ferdinando percussion

Many of the tracks from the debut album have already been played on BBC Introducing and this is what Alan Raw had to say

“It’s an interesting sound, it’s good, I like what they are doing!”

Nick Ahad hearing “There’s only one of you” live on BBC Radio Leeds May 2016 commented

“That was beautiful, thank you so much!”

Respected musician Phil Doleman after being sent a preview copy of “Protest Songs” made the following comments

“The Small Change Diaries have a really tight, sweet sound that’s immediately recognisable.  On ‘Protest Songs’ they manage to fit in more ideas, musical and lyrical, in four songs than most manage on a full-length album with inventive arrangements and smart lyrics”


BUY The Small Change Diaries debut album Adam Blames Eve and Protest Songs EP HERE