Hey builders! I need some random thoughts for the design of an unconventional stringed instrument.

I have this friend - to say that he's one-of-a-kind doesn't do it justice. Imagine a burly, tatooed biker dude with a nose ring... who loves kittens and guns and Bible study. And has plenty of other issues :-) Yeah, that's him.

Anyway, last night, he asked if I would help him design/build a unique instrument for his own enjoyment. He'd like 3 strings, round/rounded fretboard and he'd like to play it violin-style. He has thick, stubby fingers, so larger is probably better. And he want's to play it with a bow. Doesn't have to look, sound or act like anything ever made - or it could.

My first thoughts were something like a fretted erhu. Might be interesting.

Another design inspiration came from the Stash stainless steel bass.
I'm thinking diatonic frets just so it's simple to get good noises. He has no musical background or skill. Just interested in playing around.

My only personal criteria is that I have to be able to build it with available materials and tools. Not going crazy here. But I also want it to make reasonable noises and be something he can and will actually play with. Thoughts from anyone?

Thanks!

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Comment by JL on Monday

No background or skills in music, I'd suggest a vaudeville violin / phonofiddle.

one string, diatonically fretted to more than 2 octives, size it to something comfortable for him to play on his shoulder or between the knees. 

Comment by Ron "Oily" Sprague on March 17, 2017 at 9:44am
Thick stubby fingers = small diameter neck fretboard. Hmm. Unless you make him a bowed psaltery. Got it! Get an old moto gas tank. Fit piano or zither pins to it, string it on top. No need to worry about stubby fingering, or necks. Highly unique instrument, can actually be mounted on the bike as a gas tank.

Here's what a bowed psaltery looks and sounds like:

https://youtu.be/sotvgwFm-MI
Comment by Hal Robertson on March 16, 2017 at 9:09am

Liking the vehicle-themed ideas. Still wrapping my head around the bow and arrow thing, but it all makes me think :-)

Comment by Ron "Oily" Sprague on March 15, 2017 at 11:43pm
Motorcycle fork. Screws. Tuners. Strings. Attach same to the righ hand fork of his bike. You have made him a playable diddley bike.
Comment by Kigar on March 15, 2017 at 10:11pm

You asked for weird - the gun thing and using a bow to play it made me think of a small archery bow for the bow.  Then a giant diameter arrow becomes the neck, kind of like Stash (which is super cool by the way!).  And a big arrowhead for the headstock.

Comment by Hal Robertson on March 15, 2017 at 4:40pm

Interesting. But we'd need motorcycle mufflers. Hmmm...

Comment by the anonymous pick on March 15, 2017 at 4:04pm

vroooom  stick  ? 

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