Joe Birl Patented Solid Maple Rhythm Bones
Joe Birl is famous among bones players for his plastic molded rhythm bones with the patented grooves (U.S. patent no. 2436283). The finger groove makes the bones more comfortable to hold. I learned to play on a pair of Joe Birl plastic Rhythm Bones 20+ years ago. Unfortunately, the mold broke, so the plastic bones are no longer in production.
But now you can get a pair of Joe Birl wooden bones with a natural finish.
Easy to Grip and Don't Slip
Joe Birl Bones are great for new players. They feature a patented notch that makes them easier to grip and prevents them from slipping. So if you ever wanted to try "rattlin' the bones," then these are a good choice to get yourself started.
They are essentially minstrel style bones with a handy finger notch. As one customer puts it, "The Birl notch is like training wheels for the bones." And that describes them perfectly. I do consider Joe Birl Bones toy-like. After all, these are the bones with Joe's patented "easy grip" grooves. Well, my first set was a pair of Joe Birl bones - and I eventually developed into a skilled player. No, I do not play them much anymore. But my good friend Spike Bones is an expert player who absolutely adores them.
Why Choose these Bones?
I think most experienced players would want the natural maple version as give-away bones and the black version as a collector's item. But if you are new to the ancient art of musical bones playing (or if you want the perfect bones to help a favorite new player get started), then these Joe Birl Wooden Rhythm Bones with the natural maple finish are just right for you.
Spike Bones demonstrates Joe Birl Wooden Rhythm Bones
Watch Spike Bones play his Joe Birl Rhythm Bones in this 2008 promotional video for Bones Fest XII in Saint Louis, Missouri. (4:03). Video produced by the University of Missouri Saint Louis Media Department.
Figures are approximate (but pretty darn close)--
- Length: 7-3/8"
- Width: 1"
- Thickness: 3/8"
- Composition: Hard Maple
- Weight: 1.9 oz
- Camber (arc): 28 degrees
- Color: Natural
- Finish: Minwax
The Story of Joe Birl Bones and His Patented Groove
Joe Birl is famous among bones players for his plastic molded rhythm bones with the patented grooves (U.S. patent no. 2436283). The finger groove makes the bones more comfortable to hold. I learned to play on a pair of Joe Birl plastic Rhythm Bones over 20 years ago. Unfortunately, the mold broke, so the plastic bones are no longer in production.
But now you can get a pair of Joe Birl wooden bones with a jet black or natural finish.
Yes, these are genuine Joe Birl Rhythm Bones - the ones with the same patented grooves that give you a comfortable non-slip grip and keep your fingers in the right place!
Beginners Like Them...Pros Like Them Too
These musical bones are perfect for aspiring bone players. They are also the favorite of my good friend Spike Bones. Spike is a virtuoso player who performs with jazz bands in Chicago and New Orleans. Since Spike prefers the feel of natural wood, he sands off the black coating.
Joe's new wooden bones are patterned after historic minstrel-style bones. They measure 3/8" x 1" x 7-5/8" with a 28 degree arc. This is pretty much the standard, so these musical bones are fine for virtually all players.
Joe tells me they are made from pine, but the natural finish version he sent me are all hard maple. Hard maple is among my very favorite bone playing woods because it produces a nice warm sound.
Joe turned 90 in 2006 (just after Bones Fest X), and he is sharp as a tack. Joe is also a fine gentleman who operates his bone business the old-fashioned way: By telephone and the U.S. Mail. So when I talked with Joe on the phone to place my wholesale order, it was only natural to hear that he was packing my order after lunch and taking it over to the post office himself.
It was more than sixty years ago that Joe filed an application for a patent on his improved bone design. The year was 1945, but the bone-playing world had to wait another three long years before the U.S. Patent Office awarded Joe not just one, but three solid patent claims on his extraordinary new idea. So when you play a pair of Joe Birl's patented wooden Rhythm Bones, you are playing more than just a well-designed musical percussion instrument - you are playing an important part of rhythm bones history.
Black or Natural Finish
Like Ford Motor Company, Joe's wooden Rhythm Bones used to be available in any color you wanted as long as it was black. But now you can order them with a natural finish too. So if you see Spike, let him know he does not have to sand off the black coating anymore.
Incidentally, Joe holds the trademark on Rhythm Bones and he kindly allows the Rhythm Bones Society to use the name.
You can find more about Joe Birl and his Patented 'Rhythm Bones' on the Rhythm Bones Society website.