Monday, July 27, 2009

Ed Stilley guitar and fiddle

Today I went to a live concert for children at the Carnegie Public Library featuring Donna and Kelly of Still on the Hill. They brought Ed Stilley instruments and played them on one song, so I got a chance to take some photos.

I know music is a big part of most children's lives and it is a shame more of it isn't live.

As you can see from Ed Stilley's instruments, they can be made from what you've got. These are authentic, based on knowledge that comes from experiment and personal investigation. The images at left are of one of Ed's "butterfly guitars" and a hand crafted fiddle. They don't sound like a Taylor or a Stradivarius but they play. Each of Ed's instruments is engraved with inspiration from the Bible. If you think of Ed's guitars in light of yesterday's blog post concerning the two types of knowledge, wissenschaft and kenntnis, you can see that Ed's guitar making knowledge is kenntnis, from direct experience, having little to do with the close examination of other guitars, instruction from others or book learning. His only book of interest is the Bible. If he were looking for perfection in the guitar making art, he might find wissenschaft book learning or 2nd hand instruction of some value. But his guitars and fiddles can only be fully understood in light of his intent... to put music in the hands of children. He has made and given away over 100 guitars to children. Ed's instruments fit in quite well with the theme of today's concert... "What if you lived here in the Ozarks 200 years ago and the only music you heard was that you could make for yourself?" And as Donna points out, the writing on the guitar does not say "iPod". A slideshow of Ed's music, and images of his guitars and work can be found on the Still On the Hill website. Thanks Bob, for the link. The photos show some of Ed's interesting method for increasing the sound of his guitars and fiddles, springs and saw blades.

The concert was a rousing success and led to children joining Donna and Kelly onstage for an Ozark orchestra of hand made instruments. My sincere thanks to Donna and Kelly for their rousing and wonderful performance and for giving me a chance to take closeup images of Ed Stilley's art.


  1. Anonymous12:21 PM

    Nice work. Compliments to the luthier.


  2. Anonymous1:27 PM

    Told Kelly and Donna of your blog site and forwarded it to them at their home. How ironic that they would be playing a week later in your area. I am still high from their show here in Woodstock, IL.

    Check out the spot to see and here Ed and his life and instruments. Check outh the one where he is working with the router. This is about as good as it gets.

    Ed in qute frail now. Did you know he still plows his fields with a mule.

    The site in questions is.

    Scrap Wood

  3. Bob, Kelly and Donna mentioned this morning having met you and having been directed to the blog. I've been an audience member in the past. Your introduction brought things to a deeper level. Their work is sensitive and inspiring, and the very best way to hear them is in a room full of kids.

  4. Very cool indeed... i didn't have a guitar when i was a young kid... Dad had a lap steel but wouldn't let me play it ... was to young..4 or 5 at the time...So i made my own out of a cigar box boom handle and one used string...

  5. This was really an interesting topic and I kinda agree with what you have mentioned here! Best Acoustic Guitar for Kids