I haven't posted on this forum in ages, but I read something that intrigued me that I wonder if y'all know anything about. Here's the back of John Hartford's LP Nobody Knows What You Do:
It says "Benny Martin on the fiddle (with a spring on the bridge to give it an echo effect)." Anyone ever heard of this spring echo effect? I'll play around with looping pen springs on my strings at the bridge to see what it does, but I'd love to know exactly what Benny Martin did. His fiddling is fantastic on this album.
There was an old novelty decide that clipped onto the bridge. It was a steel ball mounted onto a small mute with a piece of spring steel. The idea was that the vibrating ball would create a vibrato without moving the left hand as well as producing a modified sound.
The device was intended as a way to get a continuous vibrato but ended up just being a gag. Playing with one sounds as though one is playing underwater. Every once in a while one shows up in an old case.
My old luthier pal had one. I have a thick pickup bridge so it wouldn't fit on mine, but i played his violin with the gadget on it. It was fun for ten minutes. Anything on the bridge attenuates the volume. This is no acception.
You could probably make one with a paper clip. Somehow wrap/attatch a springy wire on it. Maybe pinch a led split shot on the end of the wire. If i make one i'll take a picture.
Thanks for your replies, Rich and farmerjones! My vibrato needs work, but not like that. I wonder if Benny Martin ever actually used a gimmick like that? That would surprise me.
NFN Benny Martin was also early to electrify. I believe he's quoted as saying, "I'd wear electric shoes if it would help me be heard."
I have seen Benny do this back when I played in his band. It gave a beautiful reverb effect. Very natural sound. The old Tige was a true genius in his own right.
'5-strings' 10 hrs
'Squeaks and scratches' 2 days
'Pre WW2 Fiddle' 2 days
'Flash jams?' 2 days