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another unusual construction

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The description is similar to when it was sold at an auction house recently in the North of England,(which i happened to also notice around two weeks ago,so the buyer has obviously put it onto ebay).The top is spruce so it cant be part of a true one piece consruction,how would they carved through the F holes.Whether the neck is part of the back /sides i dont know.But it is novel! I can assume it would be difficult to carved out the interior to a normal rib thickness.Also i`d expect some cracks as the grain would be going right through the ribs at several places.(the topp and bottom ribs would be very thin end grain,which has no strength).I also would love to examine it .

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I believe fiddles in Appalachia were sometimes (often?) made that way. Anne and Frank Warner mention that Roby Monroe Hicks (b. 1882) of Beech Mountain, NC, made his that way: We have one of Roby's fiddles, of his own design. The bottom and sides are one piece of wood, hollowed like a dugout canoe, with the top nailed on. It is beautiful craftsmanship, and it plays with a tone rather like a hoarse viola. There are 2 photos of his fiddles being played and they look to be about the size of violas, too--big ones!

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I'm sure you're right about the reason for making them that way--at least in Appalachia, where poverty prevented access to conventional violins to serve as construction models.

I expect it was the same way as with banjos and 'dulcimoors': some highly creative musician-craftsperson sees some kind of 'store-bought' instrument at a distance, or a picture of one, understands instantly how it works, and then invents a way to make a usable one with whatever tools and materiél he has at hand.

Roby Hicks certainly did his best to copy what he'd seen. As well as I can tell from the photos, he took a lot of care to carve a classical scroll and elegant f-holes, and put a beautiful coat of varnish on it. Not bad for someone who could neither read nor write, and had never had any formal training of any kind.

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