I was going through some of the posts over at cigarboxguitar.com looking at the historical articles and pictures and it seemed to me that most of the old instruments are either diddleys, or they're homebuilt versions of traditional instruments like ukes, banjos and violins. Are there any period examples of 3 stringed guitars out there?
I know there are plenty of 3 string instruments from around the world, but as far as American roots instruments are concerned the only thing I could think that would compare is the Appalachian dulcimer with its 3 strings and 151 tuning. Maybe they are cousins, but especially as it relates to the blues and how we generally approach these things today, I'm beginning to think 3 stringers might be a more modern idea than I thought.
Are there any historians out there that could shed some light?
OK Let's blame it all on Shane! Maybe he can shed some light on where his 3 string idea came from.
I just went back through Bill's book as thoroughly as I could in the hour or so available. There are several mentions of 2 string CBG instruments and many mentions of 1 string but I was unable to find a single mention of 3 stringers! Hopefully Shane will be able to add some knowledge to this bit of history.
Thanks for looking Jim, this is blowing my mind!
i think one must take into consideration the timing of the cigar box era . not too many folks in the US had a youtube ready video recorder on them at all times , neve-rmind a standard camera during the depression era . not to mention the juke joints and watering holes they appeared in were not so "news worthy" at the time . the cigar box thing was short lived and non event-full on the world stage . hence we have to rely mostly on the word of mouth of the old guys that were there , the old blues men themselves , joint owners , barber shop folk , and those that lived it . and rare chances of a company recognizing it through research and /or hearing such stories even seeing copies of their models etc... first hand .
as this 1963 / 64 fender ad illustrates
then take into account where the US version came from , i believe it has a heavy African influence .
here we see a 1930's photo with an American playing what surly seems to be a 3 stringer box guitar ....
but . the photo was taken in Africa .
add that imported knowledge and influence to hard times and the ever popular diy kleenx box guitars that almost all kids have made ............,
and you may have the ingredients for the original recipe.
which may result in more, (although rare) documented evidence.
Very cool info and photos pick. Yeah, I have to believe the 3 string box goes back much farther than we can trace and the African connection makes perfect sense to me since there are African gourd instruments with 3 strings and it would have been a natural thing for that to transfer to whatever box was available back then.
The 3 string Akonting from Africa could well have been the ancestor of both our 5 string banjo and our 3 string CBG! The traditional Akonting tunings don't really correspond to banjo or CBG tunings commonly used but hey, many of us tune an instrument to suit a particular song with little regard for "standard" tuning.
Looks like i stand corrected on that last picture . indeed it looks like a 6er when blown up and clear .
(internet misinformation , another reason research is tough .)
Thanx for the assist / clarification., ;-)
. and why let one already corrected picture get in the way of a good theroy , ;-) i still stand by my views of African influence. . ;))
Well now that's a bit of history I was unaware of. Vasco played horn? I always thought he played 6 string viola de gamba.
Saxophone (tenor), actually. I don't know if he was another Sonny Rollins or not, but I heard he tore the place up pretty good one night during a Stones' concert, while sitting in for Bobby Keys.
I'm pretty sure turtlehead didn't expect his serious inquiry to go all crazy like this. But that's what happens sometimes with CBN types. Besides, I know for a fact that Albert Einstein didn't invent the Saxophone until about 1840 so I'm sticking with viola de gamba!
If I've learned anything from hanging around here, it's that we're all a little crazy ;)