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Nautical Style Bones
Poor Man's "Whale Bones"
Produces sharp clear resonant tone

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Nautical Style Musical Bones

Handcrafted in the British Isles at a rustic family-owned workshop where heritage and traditional skills have been the hallmark for more than two-hundred-and-fifty years.

Poor Man's "Whale Bones"
The bones are silky smooth to the touch and built to last. They look and feel like ivory, but are actually made from ox shins. The rugged instruments are literally bone solid and quite similar in shape and texture to antique musical bones in my private collection that were fashioned from the jaw bone of a whale.

Nautical Style Bones demo video shows how to vary the tone and accent the beat. Musical segment features Child Grove from On the Road Again.

Matched Pairs
Yes, I like to mix and match different kinds of individual bones. But like other players, I also appreciate—and long for—matched pairs. Experienced players will tell you how difficult it is to find matched pairs of natural bones.

What are Matched Pairs?
Matched pairs are bones that are virtually identical. For two-handed players, matched sets of four bones are nirvana.

Don't Pay Premium Prices for Randomly Matched Pairs
If you search long and hard enough, you might find similar bones at other online music shops. Last time we checked though, even at premium prices, no other shop sells properly matched pairs. What's more, no other shop demonstrates their ability and wherewithal to properly grade bones, yet alone match pairs to our stringent standards. They just grab any ol' bones out of the bin, then mail the ill-matched buggers off to you. So it's anyone's guess what's inside when you open the box. The only place you can order carefully matched pairs of Nautical Style Bones is here at Bone Dry Music.

Matched by Weight, Torque, Shape, and Warp
We understand how important it is for some players to find closely matched pairs of bones. So we are delighted to offer pairs matched to within 5 grams (.18 ounce). But we don't stop there. That's because some bones are relatively straight. Others are curvy. Some warp to the left. Some to the right. So besides matching pairs by weight and torque, we also match them by shape and warp. Most of our pairs match within 2 grams. But we feel matched shape is more important than a few grams difference in weight. For that reason pairs are only guaranteed to match within 5 grams.

Four Weight Groups
Compared with other natural 'bone bones,' Nautical Style Musical Rhythm Bones are already remarkably consistent in composition, size, shape and weight. And at first glance you might even think they were molded from durable plastic. Even so, we carefully cull each newly arrived shipment and examine every bone closely with a highly discriminating eye—and a gram scale.

Look close and you will see where the weight of each bone is lightly marked in pencil. (Don't worry, it rubs right off.) Between you and me, I'll admit that I like to mix & match bones of all kinds. (In fact, I've been known to play a pumpkin stem.) But if you prefer pairs of equal weight—and if you prefer them carefully matched for size and shape—then you have come to the right place.

Not Sure which Weight to Get? Then Order Medium
The difference between weight categories is significant to some players. For others, maybe not so much. The difference in weight from one gram to the next is imperceptible. In other words, you can't tell the difference between a bone that weighs 45 grams and another that weighs 44. But you will find a distinct difference from one category to the next. So it is nice to know you can choose from four different weight groups. That definitely gives you more control over what you get.

Feeling persnickety? Now you can request the precise weight you want—to the gram. (Okay, so we might not have them all in stock. But at the very least you will get the weight nearest to what you want).

Category (weight per bone):
    1. Light (30 to 39 grams, 1.06 to 1.38 ounces)
    2. Medium (40 to 49 grams, 1.41 to 1.73 ounces)
    3. Heavy (50 to 59 grams, 1.76 to 2.08 ounces)
    4. Extra-heavy (60 to 69 grams, 2.12 to 2.43 ounces)
Torque (aka twist, warp)
Some individual bones are relatively straight. Others are kind of twisty, like an airplane propeller. That is the nature of musical bones made from cow shins. The pictures below illustrate the difference.

Photos Show Difference (bone with less torque shown below the other for comparison):

Less Torque Less Torque

Pairs with less torque are preferred by most players because they are easier to grip and play. These instruments show little or no warp and are rather rare.

Moderate Torque Moderate Torque
Pairs with moderate torque are somewhat more plentiful and in high demand. The modest warp makes each instrument sound truly individual and unique - and quite fun to work with.

More Torque More Torque
Pairs with a substantial warp might require a bit more dexterity. The closely matched pairs you get here seem to work fine for all players—especially if you use the two-finger grip

Most players prefer a straight shape rather than a slight twist. As a rule, I prefer less torque too. On the other hand, I really liked the feel of several matched pairs that showed significant torque.

Bottom Line:
No other shop offers you carefully matched pairs of Nautical Style Bones.

So whether you want just one carefully matched pair (2 individual bones), or if you are a two-handed player looking to acquire a full set of 2 carefully matched pairs (4 individual bones), then it just doesn't get any better than this.
Limited Quantity. Order Now...while you can.
Observant shoppers know our carefully matched selections of Nautical Bones run out of stock all too often. Available weights and shapes might vary, so there are no guarantees. If your heart is set on a particularly hard-to-find pair or two, then order now before they're gone.

Questions or comments? Just give me a holler.


Scott "bones" Miller
Member: Rhythm Bones Society
2004 World Bones Champion

What Makes Nautical Bones So Special?

Musical bones carved from whale bone were popular among American and British seamen a century-and-a-half ago. This was during the golden age of whaling when great fleets of tall sailing ships dominated the North Atlantic and Arctic waters.

shipDid Ya Bring Yer Bones?
Those hardy sailors liked nothing better after a long day of chasing whales than to join with their fellow mates and lift a pint to ol' Moby Dick. Music was an integral part of seafaring life. And after a few mugs of ale, a bloke could not help but kick up his heels to the jaunty reels, jigs, polkas and other old-timey tunes we still enjoy today.

Sooner or later the fiddler would spot a familiar face in the crowd and flash his 'did ya bring yer bones?' sign. As the old tar nodded 'aye,' the fiddler smiled and beckoned him over to the group.

This particular shipmate was a Scotsman known throughout the fleet as a virtuoso player who could make 'them bones' really sing. The old salt took a position within the musician's circle and delicately unsheathed his prized set of musical bones. He gingerly rubbed the edge of each bone with a mysterious wee ball of amber (his secret blend of beeswax and rosin dust). Next he carefully positioned the instruments in his rugged yet agile sea-weathered hands. He then applied his expert grip, adjusted the bones just so, and stood ready. The band struck up a hot toe-tapping reel. When the moment was right, and to the delight of his mates, the bone master nimbly tapped out a lively beat. The band tightened up instantly and the music soared. The room overflowed with an awesome sound that intrigued and enchanted the entire crew...they were absolutely spellbound.

Bones that produce a bright sharp tone like these are hard to find and among my favorites. Bone players who remember those ubiquitous ox shin 'bone bones' from days gone by, will find these a perfect match.
1. Solid ox bone looks and feels like ivory: Produces sharp clear resonant tone. I can't tell these bones from ivory, but maybe you can. That pencil mark, "50" grams, rubs right off.
2. Proper size, shape, and balance: Makes it easier to strike the 'sweet spot' and adjust your grip for outstanding resonance, timbre, and volume. Basically, folks really like the shape.
3. 28 degree camber: Regarded by top musical bone makers as the perfect arc for optimal performance and effect. But don't believe me. Go see for yourself. Just compare these side-by-side with other quality bones.
4. Rounded edges and ends: Resists chipping, improves your playing technique. Quality, as you know, is in the details.
5. Double convex faces (like natural rib bones): The world's oldest musical instrument has not changed much over the millennia. Your Nautical Style Musical Rhythm Bones are shaped like the rib bones our cave-dwelling pre-historic ancestors rattled. Seafaring whalers played bones like these too. Musical bones shaped like rib bones are age-old favorites.
6. Natural bone-white finish: Ages gracefully over the years into a warm golden patina. I suppose this is true of all genuine bone products.
7. Professionally buffed and polished finish: Feels silky smooth and provides a comfortable grip. The impeccably handsome surface is simply a result of fine workmanship.
8. Rail curvature follows natural symmetry of ox shin. Looks like a rib bone with a slight torque (twist): The modest warp makes each instrument sound truly individual and unique - and quite fun to work with. Lest you think it's a flaw, experienced players value the subtle twist that distinguishes ox shin musical bones from the rest. This is another reason why no two are exactly alike. As your playing skills advance, you discover ways to take advantage of the difference.
9. Skilled tradesmen 'crank out' these instruments one-at-a-time in a rustic family-owned workshop: The market for musical bones is too small to make mass production cost-effective. So bones-making is a cottage industry. That's why musical bones are so hard to find. Your purchase helps keep the ancient craft alive.
10. Hand-crafted traditional product from England: As the owner of a culturally authentic historical artifact, you are maintaining a tradition of excellence descended from the maritime heritage of a great seafaring people. You can take pride knowing that your Nautical Style Musical Rhythm Bones resemble antique whale bone bones in my personal collection from the British Isles.
11. Heirloom quality musical instrument: These Nautical Style Musical Rhythm Bones are built to exacting professional standards and are destined to remain a family treasure for generations. They will pretty much last forever if you don't drop them on the sidewalk.