|Project by GnarlyErik||posted 11-20-2016 11:19 PM||569 views||1 time favorited||8 comments|
This is the first of several Diddley bows.
I don’t know much about music except I enjoy listening to it, particularly traditional or folk type music. “Diddley Bows” popped onto my radar somehow, and I researched them and decided to try my hand. One attraction is these don’t need to be tuned so long as you can get them to sound. When tuned they should be tuned to either a high,’C’ or high ‘D’ I’m told, but I liked the sounds better with it tuned to “G”. Since there’s only one string I figured I might even be able to play a little, but as it turns out not so much. My son-in-law however can really make this thing walk and talk. I failed to record his playing before his family left on a Thanksgiving cruise, so sadly, I don’t have anything for you to listen to yet. Maybe I can catch some sounds by him when he returns. It sounds somewhat – a lot – like a one-string slide guitar.
I’ve long been fascinated by the fussy art and craft of building stringed instruments. My ‘Diddley Bows’ are my first efforts, which are intended as gifts for grandchildren. There will be at least four altogether, perhaps more.
Diddley bows usually have no frets and the single string (traditionally the wire winding from an old-fashioned straw broom) is simply stretched until it ‘twangs’, and ‘tuning’ happens as you play, and find where the notes occur as you go. It is usually played with a ‘slide’ in the left hand (for a right-hander) and either strummed, plucked, or struck with a rod or stick with the right hand.
The ones I’m building are a bit more elaborate than most of the ones found online. But, they are gifts, so I wanted them to be a little more ‘special’. I hope the kids like them well enough to get them away from computer games now and then. These are fitted with inexpensive piezo pickups so they can be connected to an amplifier if desired. You can just see the pickup jack port in the next to last picture, lower right side. The last picture shows the pair I’ve made so far, one for an older child and one for a five-year-old. They are nearly the same except for size.
The fretboard (without frets) is walnut on a painted poplar neck which goes all the way through the sound box, but clear of the back and soundboard. The tuning pin box has a modified scroll in walnut. The body sides are A grade spruce sawn to shape and about 3/16” thick. The back is 1/8” hobby shop ply and the sound board is very thin (about 5/32”) cedar with some internal bracing. The single tuning pin was turned on the lathe and the string is a .012 guitar string. The whole is finished in paint and high-gloss varnish. Everything is wide enough so they might be converted to a 3-string guitar should a recipient want that later.
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