Instrument inventor Henry C. Marx didn’t stick around in Hoboken, NJ, where he had the Marxophone manufactured. In the 1920s, he went to New Troy, Michigan, where he founded the Marxochime Colony, which produced a variety of instruments, including the violin-guitar. It has a number of open bowed strings, providing almost three octaves, including sharps and flats. It also has 5 open chords and a sliding capot-like device to enable key changes. And, ladies and gentlemen, it is built into its own handy carrying case, plus – can you dig it? – it comes with built-in rosin! Essentially a bowed psaltery with chords, it has a haunting sound, with much sympathetic resonance. Similar instruments, like Neuber’s violin-zither (also in my collection), were also being made in the 1920s in Germany (Indeed, some are still made there today). Other related American variants included the ukelin, Hawaiian art violin, pianolin, Marxolin, and more.
Here I discuss the violin-guitar and play my original song Roll Me in the River.
- The bowed instruments page from a highly recommended site, known as (and formerly found at) FretlessZithers.com, started by the late Illinois/Indiana fiddler and folklorist Garry Harrison, and now maintained by his family
- Wikipedia on the bowed psaltery and its cousins
- Appalachian Strings on the history of the bowed psaltery