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.