Rich Egan plays the piano rag "Chestnut Street in the '90s" by Brun Campbell, while Scott Miller accompanies on rhythm bones. The bones are made from grey roofing slate. The two pairs of bones have a slightly different tone because Scott uses a different grip for each hand. Recorded June 2, 2013, at the Ragtime Rendezvous monthly gathering in St. Louis, Missouri.
What are Stone Bones?
Stone Bones are made from roofing slate. Slate musical bones are noted for their hefty weight and distinctive clanky sound. The clefted surface makes them naturally slip resistant. Stone Bones are literally rock hard and should last years if you don't drop them on the sidewalk.
Stone Bones Really Rock!
Stone Bones are made from 500 million-year-old mud. The mud once rested at the bottom of an ancient sea. With the passing of time plus the application of heat and extreme pressure, that mud turned into slate. Slate is a metamorphic rock. That is just a fancy word which means it morphed (changed) from mud to slate. The material is fine-grained, heavy, very hard, and durable. Slate is a hard dense stone that is a pleasure to hold in your grip.
Since these bones are in fact, rock, they do give off teeny tiny chips. And you will see a light powdery residue of talc-like dust after you play them (which may be visible in some of the photos). With time then, natural slate musical bones will erode. How long will they last you? I have been cranking my personal sets of Stone Bones (very) hard for over a year and they just show a little wear along the edges. During that time not one bone has broken. I have also talked with folks who have rattled slate bones ten years or more, and they tell me the instruments are just fine. Likewise, no Stone Bones customer has ever reported a problem. So depending on your playing style they might last a lifetime. Or maybe just a few weeks. But in any event, you get a full five-year guarantee as an insurance policy.
Genuine Roofing Slate
Your Stone Bones are expertly handcrafted from genuine roofing slate. Each premium roofing slate was hand-culled by an expert slater from the back lot of Old World Roofing Company in Saint Louis, Missouri.
Experienced players will tell you it is difficult to find matched pairs of natural musical bones. What is a matched pair? A matched pair consists of two virtually identical bones. (For two-handed players, matched sets of four are nirvana, but that's another story.) Between you and me, I will admit that I like to mix and match bones of all kinds, shapes, and sizes. Nevertheless, like many other players, I also appreciate—and long for—matched pairs. The bottom line? This is a great opportunity for you to acquire closely matched pairs of natural slate musical bones.
Heavy and Clanky
Stone Bones are heavy and clanky. They might be too awkward for some beginners. But these fine quality musical instruments are a must for any serious bone player.
Other than meeting a handful of slate players over the years, I have found no definitive information about the history of slate musical bones. We do know that a tradition of slate musical bone playing exists. But I cannot tell you how long folks have been playing slate musical bones, or where the tradition started—although I suspect it is Wales or Scotland.
Roofing slate has been around a long time. The U.S. Department of the Interior reports that "roofing slate has been uncovered in Jamestown, Virginia dating back to 1625." The report goes on to say that "nearly all roofing slate was imported from North Wales. It was not until 1785 that the first commercial slate quarry was opened in the United States." The Slatesite Project in Wales tells us slate "has been used in Wales since the Iron Age and Roman times." So it is clear we have been using slate for thousands of years. If you can cite a source that documents the early use of slate musical bones, please drop me a line.
Give These Curious Slate Bones A Test Run Today
If you have been among the world community of musical bone players long enough, you know that slate musical bones are extremely hard to come by. So whether Stone Bones last a lifetime or not, you really have not lived until you try a pair. And if you do try a pair, I hope you will post a review here to let us know how well your Stone Bones work out.
Guaranteed Not to Break, Split, Crack or Wear Down for Five Full Years
How long will your Stone Bones last? I cannot say. But you don't have to worry about it. Because if your Stone Bones break, split, crack or wear down within five full years, just let me know and I will send your choice of a full refund or replacement pair absolutely free. And the shipping is on me. So if the clanky sound of Stone Bones is intriguing to your ears, then go ahead and order a pair now. After all, the risk is on me.