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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


The Combolin was invented by Roy Williamson of The Corries in the summer of 1969. The combolin combined several instruments into a single instrument. One combined a mandolin and a guitar (along with four bass strings operated with slides), the other combined guitar and the Spanish bandurria, the latter being an instrument Williamson had played since the early days of the Corrie Folk Trio.

Originally conceived as a way to combine several of the many instruments they carried around on tour - the Corries' long row of chairs behind them on stage bearing instruments is legendary - the combolins in fact became an additional two instruments for the tour van. Most often, Browne played the guitar/mandolin instrument with bass strings, and Williamson the other, which also had 13 sympathetic strings designed to resonate like the Indian sitar. The wood for the instruments was obtained from antique hardwood furniture as well as premium-grade Tyrolean spruce, and featured Williamson's artistic embellishments in silver and mother of pearl.

The Corries' album, Strings and Things (1970), was specifically designed to showcase the new instruments and featured detailed descriptions of them on the rear sleeve. Many consider it their best album[citation needed]. On stage, when the combolins were played, the Corries would swap their seating position around from the conventional Williamson to Browne's right. Usually the combolins were played to accompany long ballads such as The Silkie of Sule Skerry and The Gartan Mother's Lullaby, as well as a number of the compositions of Peebles baker George Weir & Alister Rae, including Lord Yester and Weep ye Weel by Atholl[citation needed].

The immense strain on the instruments caused by the multitude of strings meant they needed regular maintenance later in their life, and one of Williamson's best friends, instrument repairer David Sinton, maintained them. After Williamson's death, Sinton was bequeathed the two combolins. He has since issued a CD of tunes played on them, Caledonian Sunset, although it took many years to perfect the playing of these complex instruments, as well as deal with the undoubted emotional difficulty in playing them[citation needed].

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This page was last edited on 13 November 2019, at 02:47
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