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Jan 22, 2020 - 4:13:03 PM
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166 posts since 3/7/2019

About as long as your arm from shoulder to fingertips. Flatten the mouthpiece end. Put holes on each end for zither pins or screws. Put dime sized sound hole in the mouthpiece. Add a bridge to each end. Use about a .10 to .24 string.

You gotta hold your mouth right.




 

Jan 22, 2020 - 4:21:23 PM

bubbalouie

Canada

13445 posts since 9/27/2007
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Cool! Tyler I was asking for pics. That would be played like a jews harp eh? 

Jan 22, 2020 - 5:12:18 PM

3229 posts since 7/8/2010

How inventive. Almost caveman-like.

Jan 22, 2020 - 6:29:46 PM

166 posts since 3/7/2019

Yes it pretty much is played like one. You can play polyphonic, sorta breath in and out and create a whilstle like tone. Yeah very ancient instrument.

Jan 23, 2020 - 1:30:28 AM

166 posts since 3/7/2019

And I feel like you want to efficiently make the vibrations travel from string, to wood, to your face resonating thru
mouth. So I make one side solid and one side then and more likely to vibrate. I feel like the soundhole enhances vibrations. I've tried long slits and lots of small holes. All work well.

Jan 23, 2020 - 10:33:34 AM

3229 posts since 7/8/2010

Tyler. And I thought the mountain dulcimer was rudimentary. There might be a target market for this unique instrument.

Jan 23, 2020 - 1:57:06 PM
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3913 posts since 11/29/2005

Buffy Sainte Marie does Cripple Creek on the Mouth Bow:

youtu.be/LXkM11kp_tg

Edited by - banjo_brad on 01/23/2020 13:58:19

Jan 23, 2020 - 6:48:40 PM
Players Union Member

Lew H

USA

2415 posts since 3/10/2008

I've made a couple of these. In the Ozark Mountains, they call them "picking bows." The style there is to make them flat--that is like a 1.5 inch to 2 inch wide board that's about 3/8 inch thick.

Jan 23, 2020 - 10:12:27 PM

166 posts since 3/7/2019

I've made some like that as well. It's pretty cool that Ozarks, Appalachians, Native Americans, Africans all have their own style. It's said that it is the oldest string instrument in the world with every continent having its own style.

Jan 23, 2020 - 10:15:29 PM

166 posts since 3/7/2019

quote:
Originally posted by dflowers

Tyler. And I thought the mountain dulcimer was rudimentary. There might be a target market for this unique instrument.


Oldest simplest string instrument in the world. I think there could be. They are fun to play once you figure out what to do with your mouth and throat. I play harmonica, I think that helps.

Jan 23, 2020 - 10:17:42 PM

166 posts since 3/7/2019

quote:
Originally posted by Lew H

I've made a couple of these. In the Ozark Mountains, they call them "picking bows." The style there is to make them flat--that is like a 1.5 inch to 2 inch wide board that's about 3/8 inch thick.


Jimmie driftwood is how I found out about them. I heard run Johnny run and said whatever that is I want one 

Jan 24, 2020 - 6:50:25 AM
Players Union Member

Lew H

USA

2415 posts since 3/10/2008

Tyler Basho Driftwood's story was that he built his from an arc of an old spinning wheel. His playing was probably my first experience of the mouth bow too, but certainly was the stimulus for me to make one and learn to play it.

Jan 24, 2020 - 1:21:47 PM

bubbalouie

Canada

13445 posts since 9/27/2007
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Jan 24, 2020 - 7:16:09 PM

166 posts since 3/7/2019

quote:
Originally posted by Lew H

Tyler Basho Driftwood's story was that he built his from an arc of an old spinning wheel. His playing was probably my first experience of the mouth bow too, but certainly was the stimulus for me to make one and learn to play it.


That's awesome! He is one of my favorite people. I would have loved to go hangout with him at his barn. I made one out of a really old walnut folding table. It had a Steam bent board about 36"*3"*1/4 on the bottom that held the legs in place. It was perfect.

Jan 24, 2020 - 7:18:53 PM

166 posts since 3/7/2019

quote:
Originally posted by bubbalouie

I made one to these plans. https://www.motherearthnews.com/diy/mouth-bow-zmaz83mjzraw


Ohh. I've seen this plan. How did it turn out?

Jan 24, 2020 - 8:47:57 PM

bubbalouie

Canada

13445 posts since 9/27/2007
Online Now

Pressing it against you jaw/cheek like in the directions didn't produce much sound, 

I like your style where your mouth is closer to the string. 

Jan 25, 2020 - 9:21:09 AM
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Players Union Member

Lew H

USA

2415 posts since 3/10/2008

I have always played the bow against my cheek. I have trouble with it on my lips or teeth. I can't seem to tension my jaw & cheek very well there. But maybe it's a matter of not trying enough. Mine have been very quiet. I played one of mine on our community radio show once. I have to get my mouth virtually on the microphone for the sound to be picked up. But let's face it: Your mouth is the sound board for the bow, so it's going to be quiet. (Boy, it would sure be hard to electrify a bow with a pickup!)

My bows look like those in Bob's link--maybe a bit longer and just a bit flexible. I use old banjo pegs as tuners, since I have some sets where one or more pegs quit holding. There's less tension on my picking bows than on my banjos.

On Jimmy Driftwood: Before he started his music barn, he was , as I recall, a central figure in the Rackensack Folk Music Society back in fifties or thereabouts. This group was central in establishing folk and oldtime music as a tourism industry in Mt. View, AR. Later, he was a leader in getting federal funding for the Ozark Folk Center, which has cemented music tourism there. He put up his music barn after some disagreement with others involved in the OFC. There have always been occasional musical splinter groups there, as people couldn't fully agree on what genres of music they wanted to play and sing. I don't know what specific issue led Driftwood to break ties with the OFC and start his own venue.

Jan 28, 2020 - 7:46:47 PM

bubbalouie

Canada

13445 posts since 9/27/2007
Online Now

Lew H I'm so glad I saw this! I gave the one I made away as a wall hanger because I couldn't get it to work, I used to twang a steel jaw harp but I don't think my teeth would hold up nowadays.
Did I say I love the song Chicken Train? If Not I'm sayin it again! Ozark Mountain Daredevils!!!

Jan 29, 2020 - 4:44:12 AM

12 posts since 4/3/2006

I got one years ago as a Christmas gift. I think it was purchased from Dick Albin, but I don't think he was the maker. It has a guitar tuner to adjust the tension. I either use a pick (or a plastic bread bag tab), or I tap the string with a pencil.

Jan 29, 2020 - 3:00:39 PM
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Jim Yates

Canada

6643 posts since 2/21/2007

I first saw one of these at the 1964 Mariposa Folk Festival.  It was being played by Buffy Ste Marie and was made for her by Patrick Sky.
Here's Buffy explaining it to Pete: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DkWMC2zS1fU
Here's Jimmy Driftwood playing one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wrYa5wGgzDw 
And Simon Winsé has a different way of playing it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8asPiUQlqlY

Jan 29, 2020 - 7:37:24 PM

bubbalouie

Canada

13445 posts since 9/27/2007
Online Now

That's really cool Jim I'm saving this whole thread!

Jan 30, 2020 - 6:11:12 AM

166 posts since 3/7/2019

I place the end of mine in-between my lips, sometimes against my jaw, sometimes in my mouth. Every bow seems to have a sweet spot . Sometimes I'll have one not be very good, then a week or so later it livens up. I just made one from a honey suckle branch about 4 foot long and as about round as my thumb. Sounds good.

Jan 30, 2020 - 6:16:29 AM

166 posts since 3/7/2019

quote:
Originally posted by Lew H

I have always played the bow against my cheek. I have trouble with it on my lips or teeth. I can't seem to tension my jaw & cheek very well there. But maybe it's a matter of not trying enough. Mine have been very quiet. I played one of mine on our community radio show once. I have to get my mouth virtually on the microphone for the sound to be picked up. But let's face it: Your mouth is the sound board for the bow, so it's going to be quiet. (Boy, it would sure be hard to electrify a bow with a pickup!)

My bows look like those in Bob's link--maybe a bit longer and just a bit flexible. I use old banjo pegs as tuners, since I have some sets where one or more pegs quit holding. There's less tension on my picking bows than on my banjos.

On Jimmy Driftwood: Before he started his music barn, he was , as I recall, a central figure in the Rackensack Folk Music Society back in fifties or thereabouts. This group was central in establishing folk and oldtime music as a tourism industry in Mt. View, AR. Later, he was a leader in getting federal funding for the Ozark Folk Center, which has cemented music tourism there. He put up his music barn after some disagreement with others involved in the OFC. There have always been occasional musical splinter groups there, as people couldn't fully agree on what genres of music they wanted to play and sing. I don't know what specific issue led Driftwood to break ties with the OFC and start his own venue.


I love the story of when Jimmy went before the State to get the funding for the folk center. It's a good one. He was such a great guy. Classact. He wrote and or transposed over 6,000 songs in his life. They are at a University in Arkansas (forget the one). Anyone can go look at them. I really want to.

Jan 30, 2020 - 6:43:49 AM
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166 posts since 3/7/2019

quote:
Originally posted by bubbalouie

Pressing it against you jaw/cheek like in the directions didn't produce much sound, 

I like your style where your mouth is closer to the string. 


Mine is more of an African style. Sometimes you gotta try moving forward or backward until you hit the sweetspot.

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