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Photo Frank Ford of Frets.com


Stroviols Ukulele

At the dawn of the Twentieth Century, using technology borrowed from the phonograph, August Stroh developed a variety of mechanically amplified string instruments. One of the primary uses was for recording music before microphones and electronic amplification were available. In those days, musicians played and sang into the big end of a megaphone, which concentrated the sound at the stylus as the machine cut a record directly.

It was tough for string instruments to compete with horns, and Stroh's instruments had the same kind of focus as horns, so the sound could be directed toward the recording device. Perhaps the rarest of these early "Stroviols" is this ukulele which dates from about 1920. As you look over the photos, I think you'll find it easy to see where the Dopyera brothers got their inspiration for the resophonic instruments that bore the trademark "Dobro" and "National" names.

 

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