The Kenwood Chef of electric guitars

Posted on: 5th May, 2015

Category: Music

Contributor: Mark Holland

Hunky Dory stocks a huge range of instruments, accessories, CDs and vinyl. Contact Mark on 023 8834982 or pop in to have a listen.

To me there is nothing as comforting as an iconic piece of engineering.  Engineering is a high bar. It can be hard just to make something work, and I mean to work at all, however badly. It’s also quite possible to make something that’ll work a few times, but with fundamental oversights stops working after a few laps around the park. I’m talking McIver style here, down in the garden shed with a few lollipop sticks and an elastic band. I can only imagine what it must be like to design a piece of machinery to be offered on the open market, to compete with machines that do a similar job. Machines that are attractive enough for people to want to spend money on them, take them home, and rely on them to do the job for which they were intended, presumably repeatedly, and in time to replace it with another one.

Have you ever invented something, in your head, the perfect solution?  (Apparently it took 48 years after they came up with the tin for someone to invent the tin opener!)  Drawing it, for me, is usually the proverbial bridge way on down the road and out of sight. From that stage I have been advised to make a three-dimensional model of it, out of sponge or something, as if things couldn’t get any worse! I am thankful that I got those notions out of my head long before Dragon’s Den come along to offer people the opportunity to do such things in front of a TV audience.

The beauty of iconic engineering, and by beauty I mean, for a certain type of person – like me, beauty in all its forms, is that by definition they are always superb. To be truly iconic, they have to be tried and tested over time, and embraced by those who have had the pleasure. Like the Kenwood Chef for example; though I do bake, and I love to bake, I have never owned one. I do remember them in mothers’ kitchens when I was a young fellow being fed pretty much everywhere I went. Not knowing the ‘mechanics’ of them, I can hardly believe that they are not only still in existence, but still the one to beat.  From what I can tell they seem to continuously go up in price, and other manufacturers, no matter how much time they have got to work it out, cannot seem to make a better one?

To me, the opposite of ‘Iconic Engineering’ is the ‘Italian Sportscar Syndrome’.   So wonderfully beautifully gorgeous that you are prepared there and then to risk losing everything so you can have hold and cherish this heap of junk that will break your heart until the day you get rid of it.

There are instruments like that, electric guitars in particular. Pigs of things that are way overweight and out of balance that’ll wreck you shoulder, break your back and eventually your toe when it falls on it, will never stay in tune because they are just over-complicated but, like the Italian Sportscar, people want them. People will justify them any way they need to and pay handsomely for the relationship. But not so the Stratocaster; at first uneducated glance it probably looks like its trying too hard to be cool, very 70s and maybe a little immature. Think again baby. The first time I picked one up it dawned on me about five minutes later that I was unconsciously trying not to put it down again. I didn’t even want an electric guitar at the time but I couldn’t get over just how sweetly this thing tucked in under my arm, curves in all the right places. Then the balance — if you rest it on the two strap buttons, the neck remains perfectly horizontal negating most of the weight. Switches all perfectly placed, cable insert, etc, etc… Every cubic centimetre of this yoke is designed to serve a purpose, effectively, a simple piece of engineering pleasure.

Latest News Articles:

Sam Maguire School Tour launched
Fundraising drive to get Kinsale students to World Robotics Championships to Kentucky
Answer the Call to save lives on March 23
Clonakilty students return from trip of a lifetime to rural Malawi
Clonakilty Fairtrade Fortnight celebrates 15 years
€44 million to improve Cork roads
Clonakilty Access Group AGM hears of many frustrations and challenges for people with disabilities in the town
Schull student scoops top invention award at BT Young Scientist
Schull Garda Station wins ‘Leading Light in Road Safety’ award from Road Safety Authority
Go quackers at the 2018 West Cork Bird Race

Join us on Facebook

Wave to Mary! 65-year-old Mary Nolan Hickey is running around the entire coast of the Island of Ireland to raise funds & awareness for the RNLI and is currently running the roads of West Cork.

Mary is the only woman to have completed every single Dublin Marathon (all 38 of them). She’s also completed the grueling Marathon des Sables in the Sahara Desert, known as the ‘toughest foot race on earth’.

To mark her 50th year involved in Athletics Mary is taking on her biggest challenge yet (even though she thought she’d already done that when completing the Dublin Marathon when she was over six months pregnant!) She wants to raise as much money as possible for the RNLI.

Mary started her epic journey in Arklow, Co. Wicklow, on New Year’s Day. She aims to cover up to 5000 kilometers, using coastal routes, over the next five months. She hopes to get back in time to get her first pension payment in June when she turns 66.

Mary will stop off at as many RNLI stations as possible, on her once in a lifetime adventure. As far as she knows no other woman has ever taken on this challenge.

Speaking about her journey Mary said:

“I wanted to prove that age not a barrier. Coming from a coastal town I have a deep affinity with our local RNLI station & volunteers and have huge admiration for the brave men and women who risk their lives to save lives at sea”.

Mary, who’s depending on the goodwill of communities along her route for accommodation, has been astounded by the response so far. “The support has been overwhelming,” she said. “I have met the most amazing and encouraging people along the way”.

To see more about Mary’s adventures, and to pinpoint her location today, check out her Facebook page - rnlilapofthemap2018.
... See MoreSee Less

20th March, 2018  ·  


This Saturday the 10th March, will see some magically curious activity as local Bandon national schools compete in a Wizarding Harry Potter Quiz. The prize will be the beautiful Bandon Banshee Perpetual Cup.

As any Harry Potter enthusiast knows, Bandon has the unique honour of having a character named after the town. The Bandon Banshee, was referred to as the nemesis of Gilderoy Lockhart in the Chamber of Secrets. The book grossed €60 million in sales and was the 7th highest earning film of all time.

Locals, looking to enhance the town for young people, saw the quiz as an ideal way promote the connection. The universally absorbing book series brings young readers on a huge adventure of magic, adversity and triumph. It is also an exploration of loyalty and friendship, good and evil – so it is not only popular way to engage young people, it is a hugely positive connection.

Zoe Tennyson, one of the organisers said they were delighted with the response from schools who ran a qualifying quiz as part of World Book Day. On Saturday Bandon Town Hall will be transformed into Hogwarts Great Hall, with proceeds going Bandon Playground Group, and to cover costs of the event.

Bandon Books will be rewarding the winning team with vouchers to each of the five members. The Bandon Banshee, or Bean-sidhe na Bandaan Perpetual Cup will be hotly contested – but which school will the Banshee go to??

If you have any questions please call Marguerite McQuaid on 087 900 9494
... See MoreSee Less

8th March, 2018  ·  

Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition 23 February 2018

The inaugural Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition will take place in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen this Friday 23rd February. As part of Engineers Week 2018, leaders and members of Ballineen Foróige Club have organised an exhibition which will showcase a diverse and exciting range of engineering projects that have been undertaken by members of the club over the last few weeks, with the aid of leaders and a number of local engineers.

With the aid of local pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, along with the support of STEAM Education, a UCC based company focused on promoting science, technology, engineering, arts, and maths subjects in primary schools, Ballineen Foróige has been engaging members and leaders in all things engineering over the last six weeks. From researching, designing, and prototyping a project based on local problems, to participating in various workshops on coding and careers in engineering, Ballineen Foróige have been extremely busy in preparation for the exhibition this coming Friday night.

On the night itself, Michael Loftus, Head of Engineering at CIT, Fintan Goold, Manager at Eli Lilly and All-Ireland Cork winning Footballer, along with Geraldine Coughlan of GCA Architects & Designers, a local business, will act as judges on the night, evaluating the different engineering projects and offering some advice to the members of the club. Also in attendance will be the CEO of Foróige Seán Campbell, along with a number of local councillors, TD’s and Senators.

Leading the team of Ballineen Foróige leaders organising the event, is Rebecca Dwyer, a bioprocess engineer at Eli Lilly. Rebecca recently became a leader in the club and says that Ballineen Foróige Young Engineer Exhibition 2018 “promises to be a fun, challenging and rewarding experience for all involved and we look forward to welcoming parents, relatives, friends and members of the public to the exhibition and film screening on the evening of Friday 23rd February.” Overall, there are twelve projects entered in the exhibition. One project, led by Cian Kennefick and Charlie Nolan, members of the starting out club, examines the possibility of installing speed ramps on the road near local primary school. Fourteen-year-old Charlie says he got involved in the project as it was something to do and it gets you thinking. Cian says the most exciting part of the project was the building of the prototypes.

Both Cian and Charlie, along with thirty other members of the club will display their projects this coming Friday 23 February in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen. Doors open at 8pm and the event runs until 10pm. All are welcome to attend, and admission is free. Catering, including tea and coffee, will be provided on the night.
... See MoreSee Less

20th February, 2018  ·  

Did you know..... ... See MoreSee Less

Main course

17th February, 2018  ·  

Jump to: