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Thread: The Commodium

  1. #1

    Default The Commodium

    Anyone have any experience with one of these?
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  2. #2
    Moderator JEStanek's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Commodium

    Read all about one here at Jazzmando.com.

    Jamie
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  3. #3

    Default Re: The Commodium

    That's where I heard about them. I am curious if anyone has one or has played one and what their impressions are.

  4. #4

    Default Re: The Commodium

    Made by Keith Cary, he charged $100 for unused bedpans.
    His website has been down for a while. http://www.keithcary.com/commodium/
    Anyone have one for sell? I've been looking for one a few years.
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  5. #5
    Registered User Fred Keller's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Commodium

    He's still making 'em. His email is listed somewhere on one of his youtube or myspace pages: kcary@dcn.org. I exchanged a couple emails with him a month ago or so asking about pricing:

    I charge $800 for the regular model, with rosewood fingerboard and inexpensive (though fine) tuners. For the more expensive Schaller or grover tuners I just add on the difference in cost to me, about $40. A little extra for an ebony board. I generally do a radiused fingerboard, unless someone asks for flat. You can ask for any width at the nut that you'd like. I am making a little batch of them right now.

    I've never played one, but I gotta say I like the tone I hear on the vids and sound clips I've heard. He sets 'em up strung in octave courses and they really have an authentic old string band sound without some of the harsh jangliness of the mando-banjo (personal opinion of mine--no flames please ).

    Here's one of the vids:

    Hokum Blues
    Lost on the trails of The Deep North

  6. #6
    Registered User Chris Biorkman's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Commodium

    With all due respect, the appeal of a mandolin made with a bedpan escapes me entirely.
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    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Commodium

    good reflective shape , resonator Ovation with a stainless steel back may make it less misunderstood..
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    Chief Moderator/Shepherd Ted Eschliman's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Commodium

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Biorkman View Post
    With all due respect, the appeal of a mandolin made with a bedpan escapes me entirely.
    Chris, Chris, Chris... It's the jokes you can tell on stage, man!
    Ted Eschliman
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  9. #9
    Moderator JEStanek's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Commodium

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Biorkman View Post
    With all due respect, the appeal of a mandolin made with a bedpan escapes me entirely.

    To me, there's nothing odd, distasteful or obscene about the commodium. It has a very American "can do" folk spirit about it of using the materials at hand to make a tool to get the job done. I really need to make a focused effort to save and order one. That, and they sound pretty darn cool.

    Jamie
    There are two things to aim at in life: first, to get what you want; and, after that, to enjoy it. Only the wisest of mankind achieve the second. Logan Pearsall Smith, 1865 - 1946

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  10. #10
    Commodium builder Keith Cary's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Commodium

    The Commodium story.

    I haven't been checking around like I should. I finally googled Commodium and found several threads on my instrument. I'm the guy who invented and builds them. I hope it's not too self-serving but I'll relate a little of its history. About ten years ago I visited National Resophonic in San Luis Obisbo, as I was want to do it those days. They're very nice guys. They'd just completed a prototype Nat wooden mandolin, trad Nat mando shape, not the round one they make now. I was so impressed I rushed home and sold my Dobro mandolin (mine, at least, didn't hold a candle to the Nat) and tried to think of some kind of common pot or pan that was close to mandolin shape. I told my close friend and dedicated garage saler about my need. Two weeks later I came home to find a bedpan on my porch. I guess this means I better share inventor status with my friend, Barry.

    I'm an instrument repairman and builder by trade but making a bedpan into a dependable, loud and good-sounding instrument still took me a year or two and several dead ends. It does use a National-style cone, but its support system is totally different from a National's. It is indeed loud. I've so far never played a louder mandolin. (Well, I haven't tried it against every banjo mandolin that comes my way.) I even get out the old decibel meter from time to time just to make sure. So far, so good. Loudness certainly isn't everything but it does count for a lot when you play with a bunch of volumetric guys and you don't use amplification. It also has a surprisingly warm sound, even with the octave stringing I tend to use.

    As to its bedpan origins, when I'm playing in public I usually don't point it out. Some band mates can't resist, but personally, I'm more interested in people enjoying its tone, its volume and or maybe the birdseye maple neck. Few people guess that it's made out of a bedpan and a pot lid. Every time I make one I seem to find another detail to refine. Lately it's been having the Revereware cover plates water cut at a machine shop.

    If you want to hear it I recently put up Hokum Blues on my MySpace, http://www.myspace.com/keithcary Bill Foss is playing the Commodium, Meredith Axelrod is playing guitar and I'm playing cello, rather sharply, I'm afraid. There's a YouTube of the song, also.

    Best,
    Keith Cary

  11. #11
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Commodium

    That youtube clip is hilarious. The Commodium sound reminds me of caribbean steel drums.

    Could do with some MOTS binding, I guess

    Reminds me also of this recent German commercial for a Ford model:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCwA8XyqmbI

    Bertram
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  12. #12
    kestrel
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    Default Re: The Commodium

    Keith -

    Your "Hokum Blues" on You Tube is marvelous. What a unique instrumental and vocal blend. I think the Commodium sounds great. Pure Americana.

    Gene

  13. #13
    Registered User Fred Keller's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Commodium

    I got one of these beauts for Christmas and I must say it sounds great! Yes, it is indeed loud--a real b@njo killer--but it has enough of that resonator sound to take the shrill out and temper the whole thing with a bit of a bluesy, mellow tone.

    It sounds awesome on old stringband blues, jugband, and ragtime material. If I get time this weekend I'll try and make a few video clips and post 'em
    Lost on the trails of The Deep North

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    Moderator JEStanek's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Commodium

    Thanks Fred and Keith. I need to save my nickels for one of these!

    Jamie
    There are two things to aim at in life: first, to get what you want; and, after that, to enjoy it. Only the wisest of mankind achieve the second. Logan Pearsall Smith, 1865 - 1946

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  15. #15
    Registered User kudzugypsy's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Commodium

    Joe Craven (David Grisman sideman) and i played a great duo on the commodium a few weeks ago - i played a couple of bo diddly tunes on it. as one would imagine, quite similiar to a dobro mandolin

  16. #16
    Registered User John Flynn's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Commodium

    Quote Originally Posted by Bertram Henze View Post
    Reminds me also of this recent German commercial for a Ford model:
    Bertram
    I saw a documentary about the making of that commercial. Those are real instruments made out of real car parts and they are actually being played in the commercial. One guy, who is a visual artist and instrument maker, was commissioned to create them and the documentary was mostly about him and his work.

    I think the Commodium is a great design. It is a wonderful study in form and function. I agree with the "Yankee ingenuity/can-do" sentiment. Also, if I didn't know it was a bedpan, I would still look at it and say it had nice lines and was very innovative. I'd like to get one someday.

    I'd also have to opine that it's the perfect metaphor for my playing abilities!

  17. #17
    Registered User Fred Keller's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Commodium

    And the jokes are definitely a plus . I've taken to referring to mine as a "P"-style mandolin, model #1 or #2.

    (sorry, couldn't resist but I probably should have...)
    Lost on the trails of The Deep North

  18. #18
    Registered User John Flynn's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Commodium

    Quote Originally Posted by Fred Keller View Post
    And the jokes are definitely a plus . I've taken to referring to mine as a "P"-style mandolin, model #1 or #2.

    (sorry, couldn't resist but I probably should have...)
    In the old days, we would have had a couple of pages of sophomoric jokes by now. I miss the old days....

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  20. #19
    Registered User Tom C's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Commodium

    Great tune!

  21. #20
    Commodium builder Keith Cary's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Commodium

    Wow, it's great to see all the interest, and I'm so happy you like your new Commodium, Fred. Excellent. Dang, I need to send you those CDs. They're right here next to me.-------And I have to tell everyone that it's Bill Foss playing the Commodium on Hokum Blues, not me. He's an incredible mandolin player. I'm playing cello and Meredith is on guitar. And I also have to revise my "loudest mandolin I've heard" comment. We were over at Bill's tonight playing Mammy's Little Sunny Boy, an old rag. I was playing Bill's new National Resophonic mandolin and he was playing my Commodium. I have to say the National seems to be as loud as the Commodium. It's a beautiful instrument, and each as its place in the tone spectrum. The National is warm and throaty, probably because it's not ported, and the Commodium sounds a little more like chimes. They both share a trait that none of the older reso mandos have, as far as I know. They both have very stiff systems to support the cone, so all the energy goes there and not to sheet metal or thin wood. I think we'll have a recording up very soon of us playing that rag, if I didn't play too many clams. Best, Keith

  22. #21
    Registered User jim_n_virginia's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Commodium

    I always wanted a commodium! Never could find one for sale.

  23. #22
    kestrel
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    Default Re: The Commodium

    "Excellent. Dang, I need to send you those CDs. They're right here next to me.-------"

    Keith -

    Where are those CDs available? I'd like to get one.

    Gene

  24. #23
    Moderator JEStanek's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Commodium

    CDs for the Joy Buzzards and Alkalia Flats are on CDBaby. (from Keith's MySpace page).

    Jamie
    There are two things to aim at in life: first, to get what you want; and, after that, to enjoy it. Only the wisest of mankind achieve the second. Logan Pearsall Smith, 1865 - 1946

    + Give Blood, Save a Life +

  25. #24

    Default Re: The Commodium

    FWIW, I own a tenor guitar Commodium. Great sounding guitar; Keith did a wonderful job with it.

    Hi Keith! It's been a while...

    Besides being a great player, Keith is one of my favorite mad scientist luthiers... it's always a hoot to see what he's tinkering with.
    Jason Verlinde
    The Fretboard Journal
    www.fretboardjournal.com

  26. #25
    Commodium builder Keith Cary's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Commodium

    Jason! Good to hear from you. Man, I've been digging the Journal. What a beautiful thing you've been doing. You, and anyone else, can contact me at kcary@dcn.org. (Bob and I have been playing with Little Charlie, who is probably ready for an article.) I'm glad the tenor is still in service. I think it was my first long-neck Commodium. Thanks for the inspiration. Back to "work". Keith

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