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Freak One-String Instrument from Vaudeville - 1920

This article appeared in a 1920 issue of Popular Mechanics with the photo above and only the most minimal description, reprinted below:

New Orchestral Instrument Held in Rack While Played
A scarcely recognizable, but truly lineal descendant of the humble cigar-box fiddle has made its maiden appearance on the American vaudeville stage. It resembles in shape an overgrown banjo, but is constructed throughout like a violin. Only one string is used. The instrument is not held between the knees like the cigar-box fiddle, nor under the chin like the violin, but is supported at about 35° from the horizontal and four feet from the floor, by an ornate brass rack. Standing beside his instrument, in this position, the inventor-musician plays it with a modified cello bow.

If anyone can dig up more information on the instrument, the inventor and especially the show it appeard, please send it to Shane Speal at


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Philip Taylor
Philip Taylor
17 mag 2022

This is so typical of the Gimmick Age (1880 -1925). A one string cello mounted as such is very easy to play. I have been designing and building musical instruments all my life so I have tried this. I will post a new instrument using a cigar box at CB Gitty soon.

Mi piace

16 mag 2022

I’d like to see that in action!

Mi piace
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