Bob McNally has been making instruments since 1973, and recordings since 1981. While holding a degree in plastics engineering, he is self taught in music and instrument making. He worked as an engineer for one year following college. After being laid off in a budget cutback, he turned to teaching, repairing, and eventually building guitars, banjos, and dulcimers. Around 1981, he developed and subsequently patented, the Backpacker’s Guitar, and began a career of inventing instruments (including the Strumstick, the Doorchime, and the Swingchime) which continues to the present. In 1983 he started Hand-crafted Recordings, using his own instruments to record Handmade Christmas Music, followed by other recordings, including The Flowers of Edinburgh (in collaboration with harper Laurie Riley). Presently residing in the hills of Northern New Jersey with his wife and two children, he pursues both recording and instrument making in a creative and sometimes unorthodox fashion.
I designed the Strumstick for people who don’t play an instrument, and are sure that they can’t play an instrument. Think of it like Tinkertoys; most people enjoy sticking the pieces together to see what they come up with. So it is with the Strumstick; since whatever you do sounds good, you can “stick the pieces together” and see what you come up with…Music!
Q U E S T I O N S & A N S W E R S
Who should play the instrument?
Anyone intrigued by it. You do not need to be ‘musical’, ‘talented’, or ‘gifted’. Non-musicians can play it, musicians are charmed by it, and it is a wonderful instrument for children.
How does it work?
The strumstick has three strings, and the frets are spaced so you cannot play wrong notes. You finger notes on one string and the other two make the harmony automatically. Anything your finger touches sounds good.
Is it Instrument, Toy, or Art?
Yes! It has the quality and usefulness of a musical instrument, the beauty and design integrity of a fine craft object, and it’s intuitive and sturdy like a good toy.