Click of the Wrist – Jack Hall, Matchstick Man

Sometimes, interesting discoveries are a bit like sun showers: they appear without notice out of a clear blue sky. These links on the amazing story of Jack Hall arrived the same way. In response to our recent ?Matchless? column, Jack’s son Tony shared the tale of his dad’s days as a deckhand in the 1930s?and the astonishing musical legacy he created. It has to be seen (and heard) to be believed.

Matchstick Instruments

To fully appreciate the clips below, you’ll need a little background on Jack’s remarkable creations. As a young seaman in the merchant navy, Jack Hall ?couldn’t pick, strum, or draw a bow.? He didn’t know anything about carpentry either. But that didn’t stop him from whittling down more than 20,000 matchsticks to build a real working fiddle. And that was just the beginning.

Musical Matchstick Man

Glen Campbell is the first musician in this collection of clips, and he performs using Jack’s Guinness World Record 1937 Matchstick Guitar. That’s right, Jack’s entire collection of instruments was painstakingly handmade by him from used matchsticks. There are four segments in this clip, each one featuring instruments made by Jack?and there’s even a short performance by the patient builder himself.

Merchant Navy

Along with information on his instruments, there are photos and documents from Jack’s early naval career, including a description of the conditions he worked in. Besides gluing thousands of matchsticks together while the ship pitched and rolled beneath him, tight quarters meant he would often have to ?move his material into the ship’s galley where he continued among the pots and pans.?