My DIY Romanian style horn fiddle

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I’m in love with technologies that repurpose other abandoned technologies. When I first learned of the Romanian horn fiddle I instantly decided that I must make one.

Figuring out the design was tricky because I’d never seen one in person before, and the images online are mostly low resolution or hard to read. I even got clever and started searching using the proper Romanian name “vioară cu goarnă” (provided by a friend — thanks Sebastian).

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Here’s what I learned: The Romanian horn fiddle is very similar in design to a stroh violin. Both instrument replace the box resonator and f-holes of the violin with a diaphragm and horn. In the case of a Romanian horn fiddle a repurposed phonograph reproducer provides the diaphragm and a sawed off trumpet horn provides the horn. The bridge connects to the arm of the diaphragm on the needle holder. The arm vibrates, pushing and pulling the diaphragm. The diaphragm compresses and displaces air, which is communicated by the horn to the outside world.

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I built my fiddle based on photographs kicking around the web, so I can’t guarantee that it’s 100% authentic. That being said, it sounds just like the ones on Youtube, i.e. totally awesome. Whenever I play it to people for their first time, their jaws literally drop. To me the most important part isn’t perfect authenticity but the spirit of reuse and ingenuity. I made mine out of wood scraps gleaned from a dumpster behind a carpentry shop, a trumpet curbed in my neighborhood, and I found the phonograph reproducer on ebay severed from it’s player years ago and at a very affordable price because it doesn’t have the right brand or serial number for collectors to covet it. The finger board, tuning pegs, and fine tuners I purchased manufactured online. I starting working on a jig to make the finger board, but I learned that it’s quite difficult to accomplish the compound radius of a violin finger board. Alternatively, I could have used a broken violin for those parts.

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