VIDEO & PHOTOS: Jim Morris Re-Creates Historic Fiddle from Just a Photo

Several months ago, I posted this photo from the 1890's in a Cigar Box Nation email with the challenge for somebody to make a similar instrument.  The young man in the photo was from Savannah, GA and is playing a crude violin.

Jim Morris of Springfield, WV immediately took the challenge.  Morris, a fantastic old time guitarist and fiddle player, has been featured in previous Cigar Box Nation features, including Gus Cannon's Frying Pan Banjo (article link).  I must first mention that the photo posted in the original email was a lot smaller than the cleaned up version above.  

Here is his version along with builder's comments.  Great work, Jim!!!

Fiddle copied from Shane's pictureA lot of guesswork went into this one. Decided it needed a homemade twig bow too.

Fiddle copied from Shane's picture

It looked like a 3 stringer from the pic.

Fiddle copied from Shane's picture

Most of the details were hard to make out in the pic but I didn't see a fingerboard so I went without one.

Fiddle copied from Shane's picture

Fiddle copied from Shane's picture

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amazing work 

Great work Jim and the bow is the cherry on top. Awesome build.

just excellent work!!!

Repeated History ! a conservater in time ! your kind of handmade pastime !

Gee wiz! That’s great Jim. It sounds like the real thing! I feel like I just heard something from the 1900’s. Excellent museum Masrerpiece!

Thanks Dave. Sometimes a build like this feels almost like a time machine transporting me to other places. It helps me to feel a one-ness with long ago folks who felt compelled to make home made music.

What a great achievement to bring back to life an instrument virtually lost to to us, just by studying a photograph. 

How did you work out scale length and tuning?

This is really inspiring stuff.

Many thanks,

Sounds great Jim. Sure would like some “fine” details on bow making. What king if string or hair used? Wood twig ?

Jim, is there a slot in the “neck” so the soundboard is hollow back to the bridge under the fingerboard?

This is what Shane means when he says “ Stay Primal” 


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