About Neil Russell
Neil 's daughter, 25 years later, with the Psaltry - the first instrument he created
Neil's introduction to building instruments came about way back in 1981. His daughter, 9 years old at the time, came home from school one day and said she needed a medieval instrument to play in "show and tell". Being the dutifull father that he is, he did his research at the library and came across a psaltry in one of their books.
Having spent his life up until that point in machine and fabricating shops working with metal, switching to wood was not a great challenge and he proceeded to make the Psaltry . His workmanship produced a functional instrument and his daughter was thrilled. She learned a tune or two on it then took it to school and played it for her class mates.
Neil Russell laying out some pieces of a weissenborn copy in his workshop
After the Psaltry he was bitten by the musical instrument making bug and made other things, such as banjos, harps, mandolins, guitars, lutes and a number of different instruments and finally settled on the instruments of the mandolin family. For the next 15 years he made dozens and dozens of Irish Bouzoukis, Octave Mandolins and Mandolins. The Chicago Mandolin Orchestra took fifty of his mandolins.
A chance meeting with musician Doug Cox got him building Weissenborn copy instruments. Doug's being the first. Now, 25 years later he's set up his shop exclusively for slide instruments such as Konas, Hilos and Weissenborn style.