20th September 2018
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Charity fundraiser brings old instruments to life

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A Van Halen fiddle, a blow-torched guitar and a Flying V ukulele made from a skateboard.

These are just some of the quirky ideas from Lerwick musician Keith Neill, who is breathing new life into old instruments to raise money for cancer charities Macmillan and CLAN.

Keith, who plays drums in Shetland Heavy Rock group Ten Tonne Dozer, plans to auction off the instruments at the Lerwick Legion in March.

He began the project after his partner’s mum had been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Since then he has been collecting instruments from friends and has spent hours sanding, painting and carving away to produce the one-off designs.

Partner Aimee said she and her mum are really proud of Keith “she greets every time we speak about it,” Aimee said.

Keith admits he is a “a bit of a mad scientist” and has no previous luthier experience.

Though his skills with fibreglass at Shetland Composites proved to have stood him in good stead.

“It’s kind of like a good idea that’s gone too far now,” he laughs, casting his eye over the myriad of instruments.

“Each instrument kind of varies how long it takes to do and what kind of condition it’s in when I get it.”

And from stripping back a bass made of MDF to making obscure ukuleles, Keith has shown he is more than up to the challenge.

One of the most time-consuming pieces is his “steam punk fiddle” finished in a beautiful bronze with intricate watch parts stuck to the body.

“It’s trying to get all the watch parts to make it look like it’s mechanised in a way.

“It was one of the longest ones and took about 16 hours….lot’s of gluing my fingers together and lots of swearing,” said Keith.

“It’s just trying to do things that are out of your comfort zone that other people will be interested in.”

• More in Friday’s Shetland Times.

About Adam Guest

Reporter for The Shetland Times. I have also worked as a senior news reporter at The Press and Journal, The Barnsley Chronicle and as a freelance reporter for The Doncaster Free Press. Alongside news reporting I specialise in music and sports journalism. Pork pie lover.

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