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 around twenty 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 shipment 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.