Welcome to the NOTECANNONS section of the MM FORUM. This is the forum for www.notecannons.com - a website hosted by Colin McCubbin that is dedicated to history of National, Dobro, Supro, and all things Dopyera related.
I'm currently in London for a few days so I've been spending most of the day at the various guitar shops in Denmark Strret. While i was in one of them, a guy walked in holding this "thing" and was asking where he might get parts for it.
It looked kind of like a neck really, extending down towards where there should be a body, but just really like a neck stick with a small bridge with a needle underneath sitting on a small disc (may have got this description wrong quite a bit !!!). Anyway, there was a brass ring on it that looks like where the "horn/bell" gramaphone like thing should be attached - but it was missing.
The stange thing was, this thing was just a one string instrument - on tuner peg on the headstock, one string on it, and a bridge only wide enough for one string.
Looked to me like it was probably supposed to be a sort of one-string violin.
Sorry, I didn't get a picture of it !
He was planning on going around the Denmark Street guitar shops, so i suppose it is possible someone might have taken some more info or pictures of it. Sorry, i never thought to take any pictures. The guy was in and out of the shop in about 3 mins.
The guy seemed fairly sure he would be able to find parts for it ! I doubt it very much !!!
Post by Colin McCubbin on Oct 14, 2013 17:09:30 GMT
Yes, you got it right, a Stroh single string violin, usually called a 'Jap Fiddle'. I've never seen one, but was fortunate to see the Hawaiian Guitar version in Erie, Pen, some 20 years ago.
Often known as the Japanese fiddle or One-String Jap fiddle. The name likely originated from the Japanese exhibition held in London at the end of the 19th century. It was produced in three models: “Home,” “Concert” and “Professional,” priced at 35s, £3 and £12 respectively. George Chirgwin popularized the Jap Fiddle on the British music hall stage. The body, neck, “pegbox” and “scroll” outline of this instrument are fashioned from a single narrow piece of mahogany with a dark red-brown varnish. There are aluminium knee grips and a single gear tuning mechanism.
Patented by John M. A. Stroh, British Patent #9418, 1899 and manufactured by George Evans & Co. in London, England 1904-1942. John Mathias Augustus Stroh and an associate, Charles Wheatstone (of Wheatstone concertina fame) produced numerous innovations in telegraphy and the study of acoustics. They collaborated with Stroh’s son, Charles Stroh and George Evans, both violin makers, in the development of “Stroh” instruments. The patent application refers to the attachment of an aluminum diaphram and horn to amplify the sound of a vibrating string. The concept was adapted for use on modified violins, violas, cellos, mandolins, and guitars.
If you drop by our notecannons.com site and scroll down the left hand index you will find an entry I wrote years ago titled "STROVIOLS Did these inspire John Dopyera?" click on it for pictures of several instruments and a repeat of the above history.
A Stroh Hawaiian guitar Does the cone look familiar?
Post by Colin McCubbin on Oct 14, 2013 17:29:19 GMT
If any members of our forums have more pictures or, even 'own' Stroh instruments please post them here, or contact me or Michael/Mark via email.
I've been trying to find patents 9418 and 3393 via the UK patent office website, but it tells me that neither are valid numbers. (Too old to be computerized perhaps?) If any of our UK members can find copies I/we would be delighted to see them too.
UPDATE: Patent 3393, dated 1901 now found and added later on on page 2 of this thread.
I also now have page 1(of 3) of another Stroh patent, for the Violin, #644,695, dated March 6, 1900. Seeking pages 2 and 3! ;-)
Yes, i had a look at your website AFTER I had posted this thread. Most of the metal parts seemed to be missing.
As far as i remember it, from this morning, and only getting a brief look at it, the thing had a scroll headstock, with the single tuner button on the "treble" side of the headstock. Most of the metal parts were missing. There was either never a chin rest, or that too was missing.
Post by Colin McCubbin on Oct 14, 2013 20:53:43 GMT
It is a long time since I was in London and had the pleasure of wandering down Denmark Street, clambering up those rickety stairs to the upper floors and searching out anything 'Dopyera' related, probably 30 years ago now. I saw Mike Cooper play there in a club down a side alley (forgotten the club's name). I bought my first decent bass guitar, a stack knobs fender jazz with there, in, (showing my age here) about 1972, I still have it here with me in Osoyoos, Canada.. I was told it had belonged to the bass player in Amen Corner, he'd stripped the finish, and I had it refinished in a (now) vile post office box red.. ;-( There's a picture in a mid 1970's 'Time Out' magazine of me playing it with a band of school mates called Blaze, at a gig in West London, wish I still had the picture, although I'd probably be embarrassed at the reminder of the 'big hair' that was all the rage then! (At least I never boasted an afro and white disco suit like Michael M is wearing in a pic I have, I'm waiting for him to get rich so I can use it as blackmail.... (Big Grin!)
Post by Colin McCubbin on Oct 16, 2013 14:28:08 GMT
The Hawaiian Stroh guitar was, I believe sold some 10 years ago to a museum in Britain, it would be great to locate it and get more detailed pictures. And, of course other Strohviols instruments.
I read an article in 'pre internet' days which remarked that Beauchamp had visited Britain in the very early 1900s and had seen a Stroviols. Thus providing a direct link to the Dopyeras and the resonator concept they developed, and which we all admire so much.
Hi Colin, have you seen this page from The Springer Sisters web site, "The Phono Collection... of Strohviols and other horned stringed instruments" There is a small pic of Stroh Guitar, one of only five known to exist, and it's for sale! Is this the same instrument? Tymus.
... Is exactly the same model I saw, but the one i saw had main bell trumpet thing missing.
I don't fully remember if the shoulder/chin rest things were there though. The single pin-bridge is exactly what i saw without a large disc diagragm. There seemed to be very few metal parts on the thing I saw.
To be fair, I don't remember if it said it was a concert model or not, but it definitely had the decal with the name Stroviol on it.
Was quite funny when the guy owing the thing popped in to this guitar shop in Denmark Street (London). I was playing on a lovely Gibson L7 archtop acoustic, telling the shopkeeper that I really didn't know that much about most guitar companies and the various models etc, when this guy came in with the Stroviol. The shopkeeper didn't know what it was. Instantly i thought it might be a Stroviol, as i've seen them many times on the Notecannons website. As I tried to shout across to the shop that I thought it was a Stroviol, he was already half out of the shop and gone. Then he reappeared about 10 seconds later as he realised someone was trying to help. I suggested he have a look at the notecannons website but I'm not confident he knew what i was talking about. Then he was gone out of the shop again. He was hoping to get parts for it as he said it might then be worth something, to sell. Both the shopkeeper and this guy were quite surprised that I had known something about it. That's all I know.
Thanks for all the help. It had been a while since I last looked at the Strioviol section of the Notecannons website so I'd forgoton about the Japfiddles ! But, I suppose you didn't have any photos of them on your website anyway.