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Percy Danforth Bones
Minstrel Style
Musical rhythm bones designed by the legendary Percy Danforth, the man who made bone-playing popular again.

Believe it or not, this web page displays the largest selection of Danforth Bones on the face of the Earth. But supplies are always iffy. Backorders from the factory can extend one year or more. So if you see something you really want, then you might want to order now while the item is still in stock.

Environmentally Friendly Bones
Almost all Danforth Bones are now made from reclaimed wood. So even though we might not specify reclaimed, odds are the wood was "scrounged from fellow woodworkers," reports San Slomovits who has been making Danforth Bones the past fifteen years, adding, "It's stuff that would wind up in landfills." It can be a challenge to match bones from reclaimed or re-purposed wood, but we do our best to ship matching sets.


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FREE w/purchase of any Danforth Bones Danforth Bones: The First 30 Years

FREE w/purchase of any Danforth Bones.

Our Price: $4.97 each
Percy Danforth African Blackwood Bones Percy Danforth African Blackwood Bones

Traditional minstrel style design.

Only $54.97 pair
(Out of Stock)
Percy Danforth Reclaimed Ash Bones Percy Danforth Ash Bones, reclaimed

Traditional minstrel style design.

Only $23.97 pair
(Out of Stock)
Percy Danforth Cedar Bones Percy Danforth Cedar Bones

Traditional minstrel style design.

Only $23.97 pair
(Out of Stock)
Percy Danforth Cherry Bones Percy Danforth Cherry Bones

Traditional minstrel style design.

Only $23.97 pair
(Out of Stock)
Percy Danforth Ebony Bones Percy Danforth Ebony Bones

Traditional minstrel style design.

Only $59.97 pair
(Out of Stock)
Percy Danforth Gray Virgin Maple Bones Percy Danforth Gray Virgin Maple Bones

Made of logs dredged from bottom of Lake Superior - sunk over 100 years ago!

Only $29.97 pair
(Out of Stock)
Percy Danforth Hickory Bones Percy Danforth Hickory Bones

Traditional minstrel style design.

Only $23.97 pair
5 in stock!
Percy Danforth Mahogany Bones Percy Danforth Mahogany Bones

Traditional minstrel style design.

Only $23.97 pair
2 in stock!
Percy Danforth Maple Bones Percy Danforth Maple Bones

Traditional minstrel style design.

Only $23.97 pair
(Out of Stock)
Percy Danforth Pine Bones Percy Danforth Pine Bones

Traditional minstrel style design.

Only $23.97 pair
(Out of Stock)
(1)
Percy Danforth Pine Bones, reclaimed Percy Danforth Pine Bones, reclaimed

Traditional minstrel style design.

Only $23.97 pair
(Out of Stock)
(1)
Percy Danforth Reclaimed Poplar Bones Percy Danforth Poplar Bones, reclaimed

Traditional minstrel style design.

Only $23.97 pair
9 in stock!
(1)
Percy Danforth Purpleheart Bones Percy Danforth Purpleheart Bones

Traditional minstrel style design.

Only $33.97 pair
(Out of Stock)
Percy Danforth Red Oak Bones Percy Danforth Red Oak Bones

Traditional minstrel style design.

Only $23.97 pair
(Out of Stock)
Percy Danforth Red Oak Bones, reclaimed Percy Danforth Red Oak Bones, reclaimed

Traditional minstrel style design.

Only $23.97 pair
2 in stock!
(1)
Percy Danforth Rosewood Bones Percy Danforth Rosewood Bones

Traditional minstrel style design.

Only $33.97 pair
(Out of Stock)
Percy Danforth Virgin Maple Bones Percy Danforth Virgin Maple Bones

Made of logs dredged from bottom of Lake Superior - sunk over 100 years ago!

Only $33.97 pair
(Out of Stock)
Percy Danforth Walnut Bones Percy Danforth Walnut Bones

Traditional minstrel style design.

Only $23.97 pair
(Out of Stock)
Percy Danforth Reclaimed White Ash Bones Percy Danforth White Ash Bones, reclaimed

Traditional minstrel style design.

Only $23.97 pair
4 in stock!
(1)
Percy Danforth White Oak Bones Percy Danforth White Oak Bones

Traditional minstrel style design.

Only $23.97 pair
(Out of Stock)
Percy Danforth White Oak Bones, reclaimed Percy Danforth White Oak Bones, reclaimed

Traditional minstrel style design.

Only $23.97 pair
(Out of Stock)
   
 
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Percy Danforth
The man who made bone playing popular again

percy-danforth
Percy Danforth

Bone playing was all the rage 150 years ago during the U.S. Civil War.

By the turn of the century, when Percy Danforth learned to play bones on the streets of Washington, DC., the Minstrel Era was drawing to a close and bone playing was fading away with it.

Then in 1976 his famous musical bones went into production. It is estimated that over thirty-thousand Danforth bones have been sold. Percy died in 1992 at the age of 92. His legacy continues...


Clockwise from left: Pine, Hickory, Cherry, Maple, Virgin Maple, Oak, Walnut, Rosewood, Ebony


The Amazing Story of Percy Danforth Bones


Percy Danforth was largely responsible for the resurgence of bone playing in the U.S.

He was also a driving force in bringing back the two-handed style of play common during the minstrel era. Percy played with top folk musicians and professional classical musicians. He even appeared on stage at Lincoln Center and was labeled "A National Treasure" by the Smithsonian Institution.

Percy was something of a Johnny Appleseed of musical bones. He taught legions of folks how to play and eventually had so many students he needed a steady supply of high quality wooden bones. So in 1976 Percy came to Ray Schairer's workshop with a pinewood sample. Ray built a custom shaper and the Percy Danforth brand of musical bones was born.

The design of the bones is patterned after instruments used by 'Mister Bones' during the minstrel era. Ray kept the sample that Percy brought to the shop. Percy died in 1992, at the age of 92.

Ray made Danforth Bones for more than 30 years. He enjoyed experimenting with new woods and is responsible for expanding the product line. For more than a quarter century Ray turned out bones in the converted chicken coop on his farm that served as his wood shop. Ray retired in 2011 after making more than 35,000 pairs of Percy Danforth Bones. He died September 17, 2011. Ray was 89 years old.


Ray SchairerRay Schairer (1922 - 2011): Master Woodcrafter

Discover the whole story about Ray Schairer--

Barefoot Boy
A Year in the Life of a 1930s Farm Boy



Virgin Maple Bones
One of the more interesting woods Ray discovered is virgin maple. The wood was harvested from virgin Wisconsin forests standing long before the Declaration of Independence was signed. The logs were recently discovered at the bottom of Lake Superior. They sunk over 100 years ago when the tree trunks were lashed together in huge rafts towed down to Chicago.

The frigid waters preserved the ancient wood in impeccable condition. The wood is very close grained and Ray says admiringly, "This is real wood. You don't often see wood like this anymore." The sound is different too, sharper and crisper than bones made from the same conventional woods.

Handcrafted Using Custom Wood Shaper
Danforth Bones are pretty much consistent in size and shape. But after emerging from the wood shaper they still must be worked by hand. "So they are not machine precise," explains Danforth's newest bonemaker, Sandor Slomovits, adding "there will be variation."

Postscript
In late 2008, after 32 years of service, Ray's custom wood shaper was replaced by a computerized machine - and the beat goes on...

Percy Danforth Bones and the New Millennium
Ray passed along the tradition to Sandor Slomovits who began apprenticing with Ray in 2002. Sandor is a professional musician who learned to play bones from Percy. Percy was "The man who taught me everything I know about the bones," says Sandor. "The last time we played a concert together was at a senior citizens' Christmas party...and Percy, at age ninety-two, was still in great form." Percy died just nine days later.