Peeler Fifes

History of Peeler Fifes

In the spring of 2000, Ron Peeler and his daughter had just begun to take fife lessons with the Moodus Drum and Fife Corps. They began playing the usual plastic fifes that most of the fifing world has had to endure. On the way home from practice one Thursday night, Ron's daughter Elizabeth (Liz) mentioned that she wanted a wooden fife to practice on instead of the plastic one she was given by her instructor.

With woodworking being one of his hobbies, Ron quickly replied that he'd make her one. Liz was even quicker to add that she wanted a real fife. (We can only guess what Ron had done in the past to warrant such a response.) Ron asked her what she meant by "a real fife", and she said that it's something you buy from a store. Ron took this as a challenge. (Those of us who know Ron would have been afraid right about now.) Within a few days, Ron had purchased a couple of rosewood blanks, an 18 inch long drill bit and a couple of brass ferrules. He soon began to bore and shape a fife.

When his daughter saw the semi-finished fife, she insisted of taking it to practice. The Ferrary players met the uncompleted fife with some skepticism. It looked like a Ferrary and even sounded like one, but who builds their own fife? Terri, the fife instructor, tried it and thought it better than some of the non-Ferrary fifes she had played. The Corps encouraged Ron to complete the fife, and several weeks later at the 2000-DRAM, a completed fife was unpacked and quickly passed around the tent. The general feeling among the group was "Wow!". Ron was a bit nervous about showing anyone else his fife, but with a lot of persuading he finally caved in and left the tent.

As Ron was new to the fife and drum community, he had no idea what the responses would be. The fife ended up being shown to several different people over the course of the day. Ron's fears were soon forgotten when people began asking him to make more. We can remember Ron returning to the tent that day with a bewildered look on his face. He didn't immediately share his good news, as he said later on, "I didn't expect this to happen. I basically just threw it together". Following the muster, Ron completed a small quantity of fifes, all of which were shown to us in various stages of completion. Those of us who developed an interest in these raw, partially finished fifes knew what was about to happen.

Ron's first sale was in October of 2000. As these fifes were delivered and passed around at musters and various drum corps events, he had additional requests for what had become the Peeler fife. In the spring of 2001, he was contacted by a suttler, as well as by who both wished to carry the fife. The rest, as they say, is history.

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