Biography and Discography Music Gallery Schools & College

This is a Fender Solid Violin that I acquired in 1977. Before I talk about this fiddle I will take a quick trip further back to gain more of a perspective.

The Viola I had at Music College was an excellent English Viola, made in High Wycombe (I can't remember who made it). After leaving college in 1969 I played in bands using this fiddle with an electronic pick- up and sometimes acoustically. After a couple of years I eventually sold it for a cherry red fender telecaster guitar. I had always wanted one. This was soon sold because of serious cash problems. Frivolous Man.

I was, for the first time in years, Frivolous, I mean fiddle less, so in 1972 I bought a fifteen-pound copy Strad Violin. It served me well until I sold it in 1981. Unfortunately I don't have a picture of it.

The following year I used this fiddle when I joined the band that became Ultravox. My life became much easier when I fitted it with the Barcus Berry transducer mike for Fiddles. It sounded quite good! Mainly I could now compete, volume wise, without feeding back. Result! When the band (Ultravox) did the all-important demos with Steve Lillywhite, at Phonogram Studios, Stanhope Place, London, I used this fiddle on a midtempo track called WANTS ME WELL. The natural large room was so good for playing Violin and we (Steve and I) managed to get a big backing orchestra vibe tracking up with just this fiddle. Steve was great to work with, he had empathy for the instrument and realised immediately the problems I would have had if the room had been small and dead. This track was a bit too poppy for our first album and got permanently shelved. (Walker Brothers meets The Righteous Brothers meets Wizard meets Tiger Lily meets Ultravox) We were having fun. OK!

I used this fiddle when we recorded the first album at Island Records, St Peters Square, London with BRIAN ENO and STEVE LILLYWHITE. The Basement Studio was small so Steve Lilywhite and I sussed out a room out at the back, which was a fire escape and a place to store the cleaner's gear. This room had a fairly high ceiling and, because of the hard walls, natural ambience. It seemed only right to take off the barcus berry pick-up, again, and use this room for I WANT TO BE A MACHINE. When we layed down the backing track for THE WILD THE BEAUTIFUL AND THE DAMNED it was best to do it all together, with the band, in the studio. Back to reverb in the headphones. This fiddle worked pretty well on tour that year in 1976.

Here we are in 1977 when I bought, along with my Arp Odyssey Synth, this Fender Solid Violin! (Pictured) I used this fiddle on the Ultravox Album HA! HA! HA! This fiddle had a very cutting sound and I could also get natural distortion from the amp. (At the time I had a Fender Twin with JBL speakers).

FEAR IN THE WESTERN WORLD and ARTIFICIAL LIFE are the tracks I used it on. For LIVE work, that year, it was good for all tracks although quite hard sounding for the slow section of I WANT TO BE A MACHINE. Feedback was a problem but I did use it on purpose to wind the crowd up.

For ARTIFICIAL LIFE I used to turn up the fiddle, get it feeding back so that it would howl like hell and only stop when I actually started the solo. (When the bow hit the string).

We did a FIDDLE, GUITAR, Real DRUMS version of HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR which I have only on Vinyl. (Used for B side of single ROCKWROCK) I will try and get it on a compilation album, it should be heard! I am not belting it out on this track; it is a more textural noise. This fiddle was a bit heavy to hold and far too harsh sounding so next year I went back to the other one.

I didn't use the Fiddle on the next ULTRAVOX album SYSTEMS OF ROMANCE. I did tour a lot in 1978 sticking with the cheap Violin and reliable Barcus Berry pick-up.

In 1979 I used it on the GARY NUMAN tour. I used it on FADE TO GREY - VISAGE. Later that year when the new ULTRAVOX line-up got together I started using this fiddle more. WESTERN PROMISE, MR X, ASTRADYNE.

I'll come to that when I talk about the violin I borrowed to do the VIENNA solo. 1980.


Fender Solid


This is the Fiddle that I used for the VIENNA Solo. There is no label or inscription in the instrument. I borrowed it from a friend and liked the emotional sound. The solo starts on the low G string and this fiddle had the intense gutsy classical sound I wanted. (Reminiscent of the first Classical record I bought :- Schaikovsky Violin Concerto) I played the solo in the doorway of RAK Studios in St Johns Wood, London. The doorway entrance had marble walls and this gave natural ambience for the fiddle sound and it was a perfect setting to pull off this almost over emotional solo whilst hearing all the keyboards in the headphones. It's a great lasting memory!

We were happening! So much energy!

I took this fiddle with me the following year (1981) when we went to Conny Planks studio, in Germany, to record the album Rage In Eden. We experimented with the sound by tying a Guitar pick-up under the bridge of the Fiddle. I used it for THE THIN WALL on the Textural Chord build up that starts the track.

I left the fiddle with the Studio Boffins who offered to make a more permanent and usable electronic job on the Fiddle to play live. Unfortunately when I finally received the fiddle they had done a very shoddy job! It just fell to bits leaving bad marks under the bridge where they had tried to stick the pick-up with heavy glue. It was quite ironic that they had written on the preamp NOT MADE IN JAPAN (a little joke). That is why it looks a bit sad with no Bridge or Strings on. I will get it fixed up soon, its a lovely little fiddle. I bought two fiddles that time in Germany and had to give one to my friend as I felt so bad about what happened to hers. It looked like this one so everything worked out in the end.


Ultravox Vienna Solo Fiddle


This is a Viola made by the reputable Wolff brothers of Berlin. They have made instruments since 1893 and made this one in 1965. The Viola is tuned a fifth lower than a Violin, it is bigger and sounds more mellow. The top string can be very cutting. The Viola is perfect for getting weird harmonics. (See The Fragile Skin on Keys and the Fiddle.)

I borrowed it from a shop in 1980 in preparation of the upcoming Vienna album. When I went to return it (a little late I must admit), the shop wasn't there. Bonus!! I used it under the Violin solo on Mr.X. I used it again the following year on the track THE ASCENT (Rage In Eden) behind the Violin solo. Both these Viola parts where anchor parts under the Violin solo and also to keep the music moving along while I improvised the Violin solos. I thought of Ultravox as a strange orchestra at these moments. Synthesiser sounds mixing with real strings so you were not always sure what was which. I felt the Viola would work best in its rightful and usual place. In the middle of the orchestra (band).

I have just had some work done on this instrument. New Bridge, Tale-Piece, Chin-Rest, Tuning-Pegs and Sound-Post. It is very comfortable to play because it is not a full size Viola and so it is very easy to hold and keep on top of. It has a good sound.




I bought this fiddle in the middle of the Ultravox Vienna Tour (end of 1980) and used it straight away. The pick up was inside the body under the bridge. It had a volume knob that I used to set near maximum. So I could turn down if I got Feedback and could turn up if I needed more clout! Basic but hi-tech for what was available at the time. Coming off that tour we went straight in to doing the next album back at Conny Planks studio in Cologne, Germany (1981). I used it on “THE THIN WALL” for the solo near the end. Conny and I put a spectrum analyser on this fiddle and found that huge areas of frequencies (mostly lower mid) where missing and so had to be compensated by quite extreme EQ.

Conny always had microphones hanging up all over the place so he could mix ambient and close miking in with the final signal. He did this for this solo.

I used this Fiddle on the next Rage In Eden tour later that year. I bought a MXR transposer that had 4 presets. This was so I could do live what we were doing in the studio. For example on “Mr X” Conny and I used to put a transposer on the Violin or Viola so as to make strange effects, especially if we manually locked it on to an augmented fourth. A transposer changed the pitch of the instrument, done manually in those far off days. We used Octaves and Fifths as well. I did this live on “THE THIN WALL”, “Mr X” and ”Stranger Within”. I always had a shit load of effects on as well like Echo, Flanger, Chorus, Reverb. I had the four transposer presets set to Octave Up, Fifth Up, Augmented Fourth Up and Fourth Down. It was a lot of Fun!
I continued using this Fiddle on the next Ultravox Quartet Tour painting it grey to fit with the stage set (1982-83). I used it on the Lament Tour painting it the black it is now to go with the stage set (1984) but as my second Fiddle and only on one track. The solo on “HEART OF THE COUNTRY” was in E flat so I tuned this fiddle up a semitone so it felt like I was playing in the much easier key of D.


Barcusberry Violin - Ultravox


I bought this fiddle in Cologne, Germany, while making the Ultravox Rage In Eden album (1981). We had just had a big hit called “VIENNA”. I wrote in a Violin solo deliberately playing it in a very classical way so I was well into fiddles at this time. I always loved the look of this fiddle. It had a bright, crunchy sound. I used it immediately on “NAME THAT SIN”. This fiddle was perfect for “ THE ASCENT” solo where I was looking for a classical sound. No effects, just good microphones and natural ambience which was much available in Conny,s studio. That’s what he was into Man!

“THE ASCENT” was the last Track to be Mixed on the album. Conny and I mixed it while friends where arriving in the studio for an “End of Album” party. We were looking through the glass window at them while we were mixing this. I remember Conny’s face when I pointed out a very slight feedback against the reverb, just before the fiddle solo came in. He looked like he had been pushed to the limit by us and wanted me to give him a break. So I let it go. See if you can hear it. Its very slight. He did a GREAT job!

We had a good party with Cologne musos from Can, Cluster, DAF, La Düsseldorf and lots of other weirdo's.

I used this fiddle on my solo album “Keys and The Fiddle” On tracks “SPIRIT OF HER SPIRIT” and “PLAYGROUND”.

I recently took this fiddle to a fiddle specialist who said that the bridge was too low. He said that it was probably made by a student who screwed up. Charming I thought. I got the neck pulled back and the finger board lifted. That process took weeks as they have to clamp it in a vice gradually moving it. It feels much better now with a higher bridge. I am using it on my 6th album. The one I am currently working on.


MittenWald Violin 1964 Germany

I bought this in L.A on the American leg of the Ultravox Quartet tour (1983). I preferred this one to the other and used this on the rest of the tour through and on to Japan. “I played the solo on “HEART OF THE COUNTRY” (Lament Album) with this Violin”. Yes I did do it in E flat! This was the fiddle I used for the remaining life of the eighties Ultravox line up. The Lament Tour (1984) and the Uvox tour (1986-87).

It was a slightly bigger Violin and felt comfortable for me, someone used to playing a Viola. The sound was much better as well! All the Violin on my solo album “STAND UP AND WALK” (1990–91) was done with this fiddle. I could plug it straight into the desk and the sound was good.

I used it on “FRENCH VIOLA” and “LIBERATION”. I also used it on “PUSH”, my recent album, on “INTO THE SPACE”.


This is the violin that I use on the Return To Eden Tour.

Barcusberry Violin American



I bought this beautiful instrument in 1985. It has a worn red varnish. Looks amazing. The Violin and Viola specialist (at Ealing Strings London) told me that the guy, Frank Georg Rost, (yes Georg is spelt like that) moved from Germany to London then went on to live in New York where he built more Violins and Violas up until he was in his late nineties. This was the year I built my “Hot Food Studio” in the basement of my home. I used it on the track “ALL IN ONE DAY” from the Ultravox album “Uvox” which was recorded in my studio (1985-86). I played it on that Uvox tour.

My first solo album was recorded in “Hotfood Studios” in 1987 –88. I used this fiddle on the track “ENGLISH HOME” using the transposer effects idea.

I used it on Steve Howe's album “TURBULENCE” (1989) which he did in my studio. “STAND UP AND WALK” my 1990-91 solo album was inspired very much by this Viola. I was using a pick-up called the Fishman Pick-Up which worked very well in the studio. It wasn't as hard sounding as a Barcusberry pick-up which was really better for live work. I used it on “CHANGE OF HEART”, “FRENCH VIOLA”. “LIBERATION”.“RITUAL BLISS”, “STAND UP AND WALK”, ”UKRAINE”, “JAMBOREE”,” CRISIS”, “HATCHBACK MANIA” and ”IRISH WIDDERSHINS”. I used this Viola on the Ultravox albums I did in the early nineties also performing live with this fiddle using the Fishman pick-up. In 1996 I played this Viola on a German tour I did with Blaine Reininger, we both used Barcusberry pick-ups. The tour was all Violin and Viola except two tracks with me on keys. For the two “UNEARTHED” gigs I did in London (1998) this was the Viola making those Unearthed sounds like feedback whistling. I used it also on “The Fragile Skin” soundtrack. I had a digital recording setup at that time (1999 – 2000) so I could record the Viola and manipulate small sections, reversing and duplicating like I was some kind of strange Artist (painter), especially on “PASSAGE TO POSSESION”. Good Lark that was. I performed, using this Viola, with Barry Edwards Optik last year (2002) doing 3 gigs at the I.C.A. in London. This brings me right up to when I played this Viola on my album “PUSH”. Making the track “WHY DO YOU HANG ON ME” was a real high point of my experiences with the Viola. I am playing this Viola on my 6th album. I am working on this now.


ARP Odyssey

The ARP Odyssey was an analog synthesizer introduced in 1972. Responding to pressure from Moog Music to create a portable, affordable (the Minimoog was US$1,495 upon release) "performance" synthesizer, ARP scaled down its popular 2600 synthesizer and created the Odyssey, which became the best-selling synthesizer they made.

The Odyssey is a two-oscillator analog synth (the Minimoog has 3 oscillators and its sound is considered "fatter"). The Odyssey was the one of the first synthesizers with duophonic capabilities (the ability to play two notes at the same time). One potential appeal of the Odyssey is the fact that all parameters, including a resonant low-pass filter, a non-resonant high-pass filter, ADSR and AR envelopes, triangle (not sine) and square wave LFO, and a sample-and-hold function are editable with sliders and buttons on the front panel.

There were many versions of the Odyssey over the years.


More to be added
More to be added