The Deserters

Got me dem ole Yobstick Blues

Okay, so I saw my favourite Yobstick builder at the weekend and have been mulling over various designs in the back of my head for most of the day. There’s too much other stuff to be doing at the moment to do anything practical about it, but it’s just one of several things floating around in my mind shouting at me “Hurry up and free some time so you can get on with me!” It hasn’t helped that my morning read of Music Thing with my coffee led me off down a path to the very wonderful Oddmusic site, where there is a gallery including sound clips of dozens of ancient, ethnic and newly-invented musical instruments. Inspiration I surely didn’t need.

There are 2 things I want to do with the next yobstick – one is to make it an electric yobstick. Not quite sure how practical that is, but it would be great to trigger samples with the welly end, or stick the string through a distortion and delay line. The other thing is to make the string more playable, i.e. instead of it being a single note I want to be able to play simple bass lines on it. Again, not terribly sure about how to do this, as one hand holds the stick and the other plucks the string – either some sort of tensioning lever (like a whammy bar) or a sliding bridge.

I just know I’m going to be dreaming about yobstick construction tonight.



  • Mick Bordet

    Hi Tom
    There used to be a description on the Deserters website, but that page is down as part of the site makeover.
    There are a couple of pictures of part of it at the website on the biography page, in the section headed THE GREAT SUMMER OF ’83.

    In a nutshell, it’s a combined bass & percussion instrument. At the bottom is a welly boot which is stamped on the ground to provide a kick drum sound. At the top is an array of several dozen bottle tops which act as a tambourine/cymbal substitute. In the middle is a
    bungie cord with beer tray resonator which acts as a single-note bass.
    The yobstick in the pictures was my first one, and was well-used by the time the pictures were taken.

    It was originally designed to accompany acoustic performers, usually singer & guitarist in late-night lock-ins at the pub, but has ended up on several Deserters recordings.