In our relentless pursuit of strange and unusual tone for cigar box guitars and other instruments, we were floored when we tripped over this little piece of history:  The Echo Uke featuring the Ukulele Echo Device from the 1920's.

"Echo Uke" was a brand name of the Hawaiian Mahogany Company, a Honolulu ukulele manufacturer in the 1920s. Their ukuleles were sold in Hawaii as well as distributed on the mainland. Jules M. Sahlein of San Francisco sold Echo Ukes under the Y'Ke'Ke brand name and Schireson Brothers of Los Angeles sold them under the Mai Kai brand.

Some Echo Ukes include a special device apparently intended to add to the instrument's tone. This "Echo Device" was one or two strips of thin metal attached to the inside of the top of ukulele directly opposite to where the bridge is mounted.
Note: This is the same philosophy used by Ozark guitar builder, Ed Stilley when he placed springs and metal objects inside the guitar bodies.  See our article about Stilley here for more info.

The photograph above shows the echo device on a piece of the top from a badly damaged Y'Ke'Ke Echo Uke. The top and bottom photographs on the right are from a concert-sized Echo Uke and a soprano "Pele" model Echo Uke. These photos were taken by laying a small mirror inside of the ukuleles and catching the echo device's reflection through the ukulele's soundhole.

The labels of some Echo Ukes contain the claim "Echo Device Patented" but they list no patent number. Searches at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office have yet to locate the patent.

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Wow! That is mind blowing! Plus a hollow/ resonating neck chamber! I've done hollow necks on mountain dulcimers but not with the openings in the fret board. So much to experiment with and alas,so little time. 

Yep, the hollow neck is wild!

I think Paul is probably right about the metal strips sounding more wah wah - tempted to play with that on my oil can fretless slide.

I put springs in my Cedar Box Build and the back is easy to get into, so I may add some rake tines to experiment with.

I've heard that Billy Gibbon's Les Paul signature model has a chambered neck to keep the weight down. Makes me wonder how well a chambered neck stays straight through time with all that stress. Trussrod helps, but even they can only do so much. Maybe the chambers are small or the necks are bigger than normal. Interesting to say the least.

Seems Billy Gibbons uses 7 gauge strings.

"What looks to be a beautiful, vintage "burst" Les Paul is actually a newer Gibson reissue. But that's just the start. Before ZZ Top maestro Billy Gibbons riffs away, the guitar is handed over to luthier and longtime friend John Bolin. Bolin removes the top and the fingerboard, and then scoops out as much wood as possible from the body and neck before putting the Paul back together and flawlessly touching it up. The result is a guitar so unexpectedly light and resonant that notes seem to jump right out of it."

I had a quick look around at this and here's some comments and a pic of a Tele that was chambered. The comments are about a different guitar:

"If you've never played a chambered neck, be prepared for something special. Unplugged and plugged-clean it's loud and acoustic, while plugged and rockin' it it swallows some sustain so I hope you're planning a humbucker (like Billy) in there."

"I've used up tp 9.5s with no issues (of neck bowing). I have one with a single action truss and another with a Stew-Mac hotrod.
If you string the single action truss one with .007-.036s there's a neat "reverb" like sound when unplugged "

"This one guy I follow has done chambered necks but says it can be risky because you can get weird over tones or dead spots."

Thanks for that.

The loss of sustain is often said of hollow body guitars like the Casino, but is often cured by adding a(tone block) piece of wood under the bridge that connect the top and back like the ES 335/339. That however takes away some acoustic properties. A catch 22 scenario.

Maybe the loss of sustain in the neck like the one in the pic is due to the long routed chamber. so would it be better to have several drilled holes instead? Benefits of less weight without a loss of sustain, but probably a little loss of acoustic properties which isn't a big deal with an electric guitar anyway.

This is an interesting idea. I'm building a Uke now so think I will give it a try.
I've been experimenting with an old bandsaw blade on another project so I think I'll start with it and see how it goes.

One of my neighbors trew away a leaf rake with the small thin tines. Looks like a build in my future. Haha

Would the Kalimba/Marimba tines that CB Gitty sells work in this application? If so, where would I attach them? 

Underside of the soundboard seems like the first place to put them. If you link the top to the bottom with a tone block or tone post beneath the bridge, then attached to the bottom would also work well.

I think next month I'll order some kalimba tines, make up some pairs of tines and take some acoustic measurements to see if the presence of the paired tines has a resonant frequency that can be tuned. I imagine it might be possible to build an analog style spring reverb box into the cbg as well. 

A quick search with Google Patent shows a number of patents for mechanical amplification schemes. It overlaps with analog guitar pedal spring delay lines as well. Given a long cigar box, a spring reverb unit could be built into the CBG! 


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