Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Diddleybows


Despite the million things I should be working on between Leaf Garden Press, my "real job," and everything else, I've found myself making diddleybows in my not-so-spare time. 

A diddleybow is traditionally a one-string slide guitar made from spare parts, often as simple as a plank of wood and a box or glass jar with string over it. They were popular among early blues players who would otherwise not be able to afford an instrument.

Pictured above are two guitar-styled diddleybows I made using wooden dowels, boxes, and other spare parts I found lying around the yard/garage.

The red one is a single stringer made from a cigar box, uses a spare low E string from my guitar, a hose clamp as the nut, and a screw as the bridge. My intention is to put a small pickup and amplifier inside of the cigar box to see what kinda nasty noises I can make it give off, which is why I made sure to leave the lid as the back of the instrument even if it might have been prettier the other way around. The strap came off a bail of hay.

The slightly smaller, wooden one is a two stringer made from an old tea box. Rather than include sound holes, I've left the lid facing the player and it has to be opened slightly (or as much as you like) to act as the sound hole. Unexpected, it turns out that if you play the strings and then press down on the lid, it creates an interesting wahwah/vibratto/whatever effect. Because this is a two-stringer, I felt it necessary to use tuning machines and eventually settled on tuning it to the notes DG. Again, I used a hose clamp as the nut and screws as the bridge. This particular diddleybow is literally bowed, as the relatively skinny wooden dowel is pulled extremely taunt by the set of strings.

Back to doing some "real work" I guess.

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