“If you can hum, whistle or carry a tune in your head, you can play the Marxolin with only a few hours practice!”
The Marxolin was a one-string slide guitar manufactured by the Marxochime Colony in New Troy, Mich. and introduced by Dyer Company of Minneapolis Minn beginning with the Christmas season of 1921. It was marketed as an instrument anybody could learn, using a special songbook that corresponded with the numbered fretboard.
In my previous post, I shared an authentic one-string cigar box guitar that had pencil markings of numbers up the fretboard. It's quite amusing to think that the gritty blues concept of a diddley bow (one-string slide instrument) was marketed to the masses as a slick instrument that came with a songbook!
The single guitar string is fed through a metal tube serving as a permanently attached guitar slide. A small bit of felt is attached to the back end of the slide to muffle unwanted string noise. A zither tuning peg at the tailpiece serves as the tuner.
This instrument was donated to Shane Speal by David Sutton, author of Cigar Box Guitars, An Obsession (2019 Fox Chapel Publishing). It had been in his family since the 1920’s.
The instrument is quite easy to play, but extremely limited in the sounds but it serves as a great example of slide guitar history that emerged following the Hawaiian music craze of the early 20th Century.
Specs for 1921 Marxolin One-String Slide Guitar:
Dimensions: 29 x 1.5 x 10" (74 x 4 x 15.5cm)
Paper fretboard numbers
Cigar Box Guitar Museum Catalog # AUN.2018.001
Currently in curation and slated to be shown at the Cigar Box Guitar Museum in New Alexandria PA at a future date.
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