Thursday, November 1, 2012

Fiddle (IW#052)

The peg head with a friction peg.

I have been reading a book called "One Man's Trash," which a history of cigar box instruments.  The first, apparently, were fiddles, and the earliest image of one is from the Civil War (though it was published later).  Of course before people could make cigar box instruments there had to be cigar boxes, which did not really start to be used until 1811, which is one of the first mentions of a 100 count box of "Spanish Segars."  Not that people were not making their own instruments, rather that the first specifically cigar box instruments had to wait until there were boxes readily available.

There are a surprising (well, surprising to me, anyway) number of one-string cigar box fiddles mentioned over the years, starting in the Civil War and going right through to about World War I.  So clearly I needed to make a fiddle.  Now that I have a peg shaver I am off to the races, and was happy to be able to put this little box to use that i had come across.  It is too small for anything else, really, but perfect for this.

Here is what I am able to make it sound like, but I wish i had someone here who actually plays fiddle.  I am able to scrape some notes out of it, but I would be interested to see whether a fiddle player could get decent music out of it.  So no apologies for the lack of skill, but maybe more of a warning.  You get the idea though, the sound is tolerable:

Dainties Uke (IW#051)

I had two things I wanted to try with this one:  I had seen a photo of a guitar someone made with a table leg, and I like the turned look at the end, so I wanted to try that.  I also had recently seen Tim Anderson's tapered reamer and peg shaver and really wanted to give them a shot.  One of the things that has been bugging me has been that I work with all of this found stuff and then I buy cheap tuners from China.  That sure as heck isn't found, that's bought.  Cheating, in a way.  So I really want to make my own pegs, and this is the best way I know how.

So I tried to make a cookie tin banjo uke from a little tin from the flea market.  The turning on the table leg is a bit too narrow at the nut, so it does not really work in that sense, but the pegs and the tapered hole were a success.  So as a proof-of-concept exercise it worked, which I am pretty excited about.  It sounds ok, but I think I am going to disassemble it and put a different neck on it one of these days.  I like the table leg idea, it is just too skinny for four strings.  It could work for a three string job, thouh, so that might be next.  Here it is: