• Sam

2020, The year from hell, and Luthiery.

Updated: Jun 27, 2020

What can I say about 2020 that hasn't already been said? We all know just how awful this year has been so far, and we're only halfway through it so far. An entire continent caught fire, we got battered by horrific storms, so many people tragically lost their lives this year, we had a global pandemic, the world went into lockdown, and now we have protests taking place all around the planet. These are strange times, which I sincerely doubt anyone could have predicted. Who knows what the next six months will hold in store for us. I honestly feel like I've gone to the cinema to watch a disaster movie and somehow got sucked Tron-like into the screen.

As the world went into quarantine and we all locked ourselves indoors away from each other, we at BTLX have been beavering away. We're in the fortunate position of having our workshop right on our doorstep at home, so we were able to continue, and in fact devote additional time and resources to producing the finest instruments possible - such as the brand new GCM series Ukulele pictured here. The GCM series came into existence as a birthday present for Sam's granddaughter Georgia. We broadcast it's production on social media pretty much as it was happening, and the photos attracted incredible interest, so it made sense for us to make this instrument available to a wider audience. The GCM part of the name coming from Georgia's initials. Of course Georgia is the proud owner of GCM001.

Following close on the heels of the GCM series ukulele is our somewhat insane sounding Irish/Hawaiian fusion instrument - the Bodhran Banjolele. This instrument captures the fun and playable nature of the ukulele, and interweaves it with the rich Irish history and heritage of which we're so deeply proud here at BTLX. Essentially, in one of those weird moments - usually fuelled by a few beers - we found ourselves reasoning that a banjo is essentially a flat drum with a neck and some strings attached. This line of thought led to the realisation that the most famous Irish drum, the Bodhran is more or less the perfect shape for this.

The very next day, we walked out of the workshop carrying a Bodhran with a ukulele neck attached, and within days of sharing the progress photo on social media, we were inundated with enquiries about price, availability and how she sounds. So watch this space, the Bodhran Banjolele will soon be available to purchase.

And of course the other big news is the upcoming release of the BTLX Holy Trinity - the Blade, Bodhran and Axe models. These are the hybrid guitars we've been developing for nigh on two and a half years now and we've finally perfected them and are ready to release them. There's some final tweaking and adjustment to be done, and of course a final photoshoot before the big reveal, but they're coming.

We're big believers in always looking on the bright side - finding the positives in even the darkest of situations - the silver linings so to speak. While there hasn't been a lot to smile about during the pandemic lockdown, it does seem to have one notably positive effect on people. It's given people time and space to explore their creative, artistic and musical sides.

As a result, demand for small inexpensive and relatively easy to learn instruments have boomed in recent months - things like harmonica, bongos and delightfully, ukulele's. Everyone is taking the opportunity to learn a new skill or master a new musical instrument, and for a small maker of high quality ukulele's, that's just fine.

So, I have high hopes that when we emerge out the other side of this year from hell into the year 2021, it will be into a brighter, cleaner, friendlier, more tolerant and happy world where everyone has a new appreciation for the arts, and a new desire to create music, art, literature or whatever tickles your fancy.

I feel that the years leading up to 2020 saw us (humanity) portrayed as an ugly caterpillar, eating our way through and destroying the very environment we needed to sustain us.

The pandemic forced us all into lockdown, just as the caterpillar enters it's cocoon and begins the process of metamorphosis, and at the end of it all, we'll emerge into the sunshine as beautiful butterflies, ready to spread our wings and become one with our new world.

Yeah, I'm pretty much just an ageing hippy at heart.

Love all, and peace out.

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