by Doug Odell

Published in the July 1999 Issue of Anvil Magazine


Farriers may find themselves shoeing more than just equines, especially when they have an interest in large, stringed instruments. One example from Chester County, Pennsylvania, involves farrier Doug Odell and his bass fiddle, Blondie.

“Upright basses have adjustable end pins that are either left as bare spikes or are covered with ‘feet,’ such as rubber cane tips. Traditional musicians may use more creative license and ‘shoe’ their basses with anything from handballs to baby sneakers.” Odell’s idea for his instrument: the bass hoof.

All of the “horn” structures were first modeled by Odell in wax pattern and then cast in Herculoy (silicon) bronze by his friend and sculptor/bronzer Joel Tea of Cochranville, Pa. The bronze was then finished with a ferric nitrate patina.

The hoof flexes by means of a chrome-steel ball that is partially embedded in the bronze. The ball was surface treated with sulfurated potash and is threaded into the end pin by a cap screw that was silver-soldered onto the ball face.

The cover plate was fabricated from a 3 1/2” washer, and is held in place by four brass machine screws. It is protected from over-rotation of the ball by a rubber “O” ring on the cap screw head. The shoe is a garden-variety handmade straight bar that is secured with eight custom E-head nails. All components of the four-pound,

11-ounce hoof were waxed after assembly.

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