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Publication numberUS3398622 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateAug 27, 1968
Filing dateMay 28, 1965
Priority dateMay 28, 1965
Publication numberUS 3398622 A, US 3398622A, US-A-3398622, US3398622 A, US3398622A
InventorsWalter E Smith
Original AssigneeWalter E. Smith
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Musical instruments
US 3398622 A
Abstract  available in
Images(4)
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

W. E. SMITH MUS ICAL INSTRUMENTS Aug. 27, 1968 4 Sheets-Sheet 1 Filed May 28, 1965 Aug. 27, 1968 w. E. SMITH 3,398,622

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Aug. 27, 1968 w. E. SMITH MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS 4 Sheets-Sheet 4 Filed May 23, 1965 United States Patent 3,398,622 MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS Walter E. Smith, P.0. Box 408, Caldwell, Idaho 83605 Filed May 28, 1965, Ser. No. 459,551 4 Claims. (Cl. 84-267) ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE The plane of the strings of a guitar is slanted so that when the guitar is held in an upright position by a standing musician, the plane of the strings is neither horizontal nor vertical, but is inclined at an intermediate position, so that the steel bar used with a Hawaiian-type guitar can be manually moved by the musician along the length of the strings. Also, a new tuning system for the strings makes it possible to play, for any one position of the slide bar, a major chord in either one of two different keys, a major chord with a diminished seventh, a major chord plus a sixth or a diminished seventh chord, or a minor chord.

This invention relates to musical instruments of the lute type and is particularly directed to improvements in a stringed musical instrument in which substantially parallel strings are tensioned between a bridge on the body and a nut on the neck. This invention will be described in connection with guitars of the Spanish type and Hawaiian type but it is to be understood that this is by way of illustration and not of limitation.

So-called Spanish type guitars are commonly played by a musician while in standing position. The musician plucks or strums the strings with his right hand while forming chords by pressing the fingers of his left hand against the strings. This type of instrument has great appeal for entertainers because the motions of the hands of the musician are plainly visible to the audience and because the musician may walk about the stage while playing the instrument.

The Hawaiian type guitar on the other hand must be played while the musician is sitting down because the musicians left hand is used to slide a steel bar along the length of the strings while the strings are plucked or strummed by fingers of the right hand. The Hawaiian type guitar cannot be played while the musician is standing because the strings then lie in a substantially vertical plane and it is not possible to operate the slide bar properly when the plane of the strings is vertical.

Accordingly, it is an important object of this invention to provide a Hawaiian type guitar which is played with a bar sliding on the strings and which may be played by a musician in standing position.

Another object of this invention is to provide apparatus for converting an existing Spanish guitar to one of the improved Hawaiian type embodying this invention.

Another object is to provide an entirely new tuning system for the strings of a Hawaiian type guitar played with a sliding bar.

Another object is to provide improved sliding bar devices particularly adapted for use with improved Hawaiian type guitars.

These and other objects of the invention are achieved by slanting the plane of the strings with respect to the face of the body or sound-box of the guitar, so that when the body or sound-box is held in upright position by a standing musician, the plane of the strings is neither horizontal nor vertical but is inclined about halfway therebetween. The tuning system which forms a second feature of this invention is unlike conventional tuning systems for either Spanish guitars or Hawaiian guitars. The new system makes it possible to play, for any one position of the slide bar, a major chord in either one of two different keys, a major chord with a diminished seventh, a major chord plus a sixth or a diminished seventh chord, or a minor chord. With the strings tuned in the manner to provide this great selection of chords available in any key, the instrument takes on an entirely new quality with great range and versatility. An aspect of the new tuning system is that a fret-board surface may be provided which simulates a piano keyboard, and thus provides a visual indication to the musician of where to position the slide bar.

Another related object of this invention is to provide novel forms of slide bar constructions adapted for use on strings positioned in an inclined plane.

Other and more detailed objects and advantages will appear hereinafter.

In the drawings:

FIGURE 1 shows a guitar embodying this invention and being played by a musician while in standing position.

FIGURE 2 is a front elevation of the guitar shown in FIGURE 1.

. FIGURE 3 is a side elevation.

FIGURES 4, 5 and 6 are transverse sectional views taken substantially on the lines 44, 5-5 and 6 6 respectively as shown in FIGURE 3.

FIGURE 7 is a fragmentary sectional view taken substantially on the lines 7-7 as shown on FIGURE 2.

FIGURE 8 is a diagram showing the tuning system for each of the nine strings.

FIGURE 9 is a vfront elevation of a modified form of device embodying this invention and showing an attachment for a Spanish type guitar having a hollow sound-box.

FIGURE 10 is a side elevation of the device shown in FIGURE 9.

FIGURES 11, 12 and 13 are transverse sectional views taken substantially on the lines 11-11, 1212 and 1313 respectively as shown on FIGURE 10.

FIGURE 14 is a view ofthe fret board design Whic may be employed with either embodiment of this invention and shows how the surface of the fret board simulates a portion of the keyboard of a piano.

FIGURE 15 is a perspective view showing a slide bar device of novel form.

FIGURE 16 is a side elevation thereof.

FIGURE 17 is a transverse sectional view taken substantially on the lines 1717 as shown in FIGURE 16.

FIGURE 18 is an end elevation showing the bar in contact with the guitar strings.

FIGURE 19 is a view similar to FIGURE 18 showing how the bar is lifted from contact with the strings while retaining contact of certain fingers with the strings.

FIGURE 20 is a perspective view showing a modified form of slide bar device.

FIGURE 21 is a top view thereof.

FIGURE 22 is a side elevation partly in section.

FIGURE 23 is a transverse sectional view taken substantially on the lines 2323 as shown in FIGURE 22.

FIGURE 24 is an end elevation showing the bar of FIGURE 20 in contact with the guitar strings.

Referring to the drawings, the guitar generally designated 10 is supported by a strap 11 passing over the shoulder of the musician, the musician being shown in standing posiiton in FIGURE 1. The guitar 10 has a body 12 provided with an exposed upper face 13 and having a neck 14 extending longitudinally from the body 12. The neck 14 may be formed integrally with the body 12 or as shown in the drawings may comprise a separate part afiixed to the body extension 15 by means of threaded fastenings 16. The neck 14 has an inclined surface 17 on which is mounted the longitudinally extending fret board 3 18. This fret board 18 extends from the inclined nut 19 on" the neck-14 to a position overlying a portion of the body 12, terminating at 20 as viewed in FIGURE 2.

An inclined bridge 22 is mounted on the body 12 and has the same inclination as the nut 19 and the fret board 18. A series of substantially parallel strings individually numbered 1 through 9 are tensioned over the bridge 22 and nut 19 and hence are positioned in an inclined plane. The plane is inclined sufliciently with respect to the upper exposed surface 13 of the body 12 to enable the slide bar device 24 to be manipulated properly by the musician when the musical instrument is in the position shown in FIGURE 1. While the angle of inclination is not critical it should be closer to a 45 angle than to either the horizontal or the vertical.

The extreme end portion 25 of the neck 14 supports a plurality of string tightening units 26 of conventional design, one for each of the nine strings. The other end of each string is fastened to the anchor device 27 aflixed to the body 12.

Electrical pick-up microphone units 29 and 30 are mounted in an inclined position on the body 12 between the bridge 22 and the fret board 18. These electrical pick-up units are of conventionaldesign but unit 29 picks up all strings whereas unit 30 picks up all. strings except 9. The units 29 and 30 are electrically connected through a bank of switches 31 and conventional volume control and tone control knobs 32 and 33 to a conventional jack 34. A cable 35 extends from this jack to the power supply and amplifier, not shown. The switch bank 31 may be selectively operated to connect either one or both of the electrical pick-up units 29 and 30 to the jack 34.

The strap 11 which goes over the shoulder of the standing musician is attached to the fitting 37 at the end of the body 12 in a conventional. manner. The other end of the strap 11 is attached to the pin 38 mounted on the front face of the end portion 25 of the neck 14. This mounting of the strap 11 serves to apply a torque to the instrument so that the upper edge of the body 12 is held snugly against the body of the musician.

Although the inclined strings are shown as applied to an electric guitar having a solid body 12, as shown in FIGURES 1-8, it is to be understood that the same inclined bridge and nut and inclined fret board may be employed on a guitar having a body which comprises a hollow sound-box and which does not employ any electrical pick-up units. Also as shown in FIGURES 9-13 a Spanish type guitar as shown in phantom lines may be converted to the inclined string Hawaiian type and played with a slide bar device. Thus a metal fret board 51 may be mounted by wedge shaped supports 52, 53 and 54 to rest on the exposed face 55 of the hollow soundabox 56 and upon the neck 57 which extends longitudinally from the sound-box. The inclined fret board 51 is maintained in place by means of the side clips 58 on each side of the neck 57. The metal fret board has an inclined nut 60 afiixed to one end and an inclined bridge 61 affixed to the other end. A guard or shield 62 may be placed in position over the strings if desired to form a rest for the right hand of the musician. An electrical pick-up microphone unit 64 may be mounted on the fret board 51 and held in place with a thumb screw 65, as shown in FIGURE 12. Only six strings are illustrated in this form of the invention since the ordinary Spanish type guitar is equipped with only six strings. However, a greater number may be employed if desired. The pick-up unit 64 may be positioned at any desired location along the inclined fretboard 51 and above the exposed face 55 of the soundbox 56, but I prefer to position it directly above the opening 67 conventionally provided in Spanish type guitars. The tensioning mechanisms for the strings and the body anchor for the strings are the same as initially employed on the guitar before attachment of the inclined fret board 51 and its associated parts.

The tuning of the nine strings in that form of the device shown in FIGURES l-7 is set forth in the diagram of FIGURE 8. In this diagram it is shown that the first string is tuned to the E above middle C, the second string to the E one octave therebelow, the third string is tuned to C sharp above middle C, the fourth string is tuned to A below middle C, the fifth string is tuned to the A one octave therebelow, the sixth string is tuned to the same E as the second string, the seventh string is tuned to middle C, the eighth string is tuned to the G below middle C, and the ninth string is tuned to the B flat below middle C. This tuning schedule for the strings applies before the slide bar device 24 is touched to any of the strings. Accordingly, when strings 8, 7 and 6 are sounded by plucking or strumming, a major chord in the key of C is produced. If a major seventh chord is desired in the key of C, strings 9, 8, 7 and 6 are sounded. A C major chord plus the sixth of the scale is produced by sounding strings 8, 7, 6, 5 and 4. This same chord is an inversion of a minor seventh chord. A minor chord may be sounded by sounding strings 7, 6, 5 and 4. A major chord in the key of A is produced by sounding strings 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1. This unique stringing enables the musician to play chords and sequences of chords previously not possible with the conventional Hawaiian guitar. It is to be noted that seldom if ever would all of the strings be sounded at the same time. All of the strings, both bass and treble, are mounted in the same plane and may be contacted simultaneously by the slide bar 24.

It will be noted that adjacent strings 4 and 5 are tuned one octave apart and it will also be noted in FIGURE 4 that these strings are spaced closer together than any other pair of strings. This enables them to be sounded almost simultaneously. This close spacing also provides a reference for the musician so that the proper strings may be plucked or strummed to produce the desired chord. Strings 1 and 2 are also tuned one octave apart and are closely spaced for sounding almost simultaneously.

When only six strings instead of nine are employed, the first five strings are tuned as shown in FIGURE 8 but the sixth string is tuned to middle C or to the G below middle C, instead of the E below middle C.

It is shown in FIGURE 14 that a design may be placed on the fret board to simulate the keyboard of a piano. The fret board is provided with the usual parallel transverse lines 70 which denote the location of the frets and thus denote positions of the slide bar 24 to produce halftones on the musical scale. Rectangular shaped areas 71 of darker or contrasting hue with respect to the remainder of the fret-board surface are provided at intervals along the length of the fret board. These areas 71 extend inwardly from one edge of the fret board but terminate short of the other edge and they thus simulate the black keys of the piano keyboards while the lines 70 simulate the boundaries of the white keys on the piano keyboard. S nce the frets become more closely spaced in a longitudinal direction away from the nut over which the strings are placed, the areas 71 are more closely spaced at the right hand end of the fret board than at the left hand end. This simulated piano keyboard is particularly useful for beginning students of the guitar and enables them to place the slide bar 24 at a position on the strings corresponding to a desired equivalent note on the piano keyboard. The position of the areas 71 simulating the black keys is correlated with the tuning of the strings 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 in the diagram of FIGURE 8, whether nine strmgs or six are used.

The slide bar device generally designated 75 and shown in FIGURES 15-19 constitutes an improvement over the conventional slide bar 24 as shown in FIGURE 1. This device 75 comprises a solid tapered metal bar shaped to be held between the thumb and fingers of the left hand of the musician. A first wing 79 projects laterally over the thumb and a second wing 80 projects laterally over the third, fourth and fifth fingers. The index finger passes through a circular ring 81 which is split at 82 to permit adjustment in size. A central projection 83 is afiixed to the bar 76, wings 79 and 80 and ring 81. The'wings and ring are are of great assistance in properly manipulating the bar device 75, particularly since the plane of the strings is inclined. Moreover, as shown in FIGURE 19, lifting of the bar 76 is accomplished by pivotal action around the fourth finger 74 which remains in contact with the strings.

In the modified form of slide ba-r device as shown in FIGURES 20-23, the solid bar 86 which is rounded at one end is provided with a wedge shaped lug 87 secured to an outer surface thereof by means of fastenings 88. The wide end of the wedge shaped lug forms lateral projections 89 which contact portions of the thumb and third finger. The upper surface of the lug 87 is provided with spaced concave surfaces 90 and a central recess 91. The surfaces 90 are shaped to conform to the index finger. The operation of this form of the slide bar device is similar to that described above; when the bar 86 is to be lifted from contact with the strings the fingers are pivoted about the fourth finger 74 which remains in contact with the strings.

I claim:

1. In a guitar, the combination of: a structure including a body and a neck projecting from the body, an inclined bridge on the structure and an inclined nut on the neck remote from the bridge, a plurality of bass strings and a plurality of treble strings tensioned over said bridge and said nut, all of said strings being supported in the same inclined plane for simultaneous contact by a slide bar, so that when the guitar body is held in an upright position by a standing musician, the plane of the strings is inclined downward and away from the musician.

and simulating the white keys on a piano keyboard, said lines in the series being progressively closer spaced on the fret-board surface from the nut toward the bridge, and a series of rectangular zones on the fret-board surface each extending inward from one edge thereof and terminating short of the other edge thereof and simulating the black notes on a piano keyboard.

References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,168,153 1/1916 Boswell 843l2 1,381,187 6/1921 Grover 84-308 2,976,755 3/1961 Fender 84-267 F OREIGN' PATENTS 243,442 2/1912 Germany. 456,051 6/1913 France. 523,049 10/1921 France.

RICHARD B. WILKINSON, Primary Examiner.

E. C. SIMMONS, Assistant Examiner.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US1168153 *Sep 23, 1914Jan 11, 1916Nathaniel Richard BoswellStringed musical instrument.
US1381187 *Aug 14, 1918Jun 14, 1921Grover Albert DBridge for musical stringed instruments
US2976755 *Jan 6, 1959Mar 28, 1961Fender Clarence LElectromagnetic pickup for lute-type musical instrument
*DE243442C Title not available
FR456051A * Title not available
FR523049A * Title not available
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3833751 *Feb 22, 1973Sep 3, 1974Chapman EGuitar-like instrument with magnetic pickup
US4137813 *Apr 7, 1978Feb 6, 1979Intonation SystemsFingerboard attachment for stringed instruments
US4509400 *Jun 10, 1983Apr 9, 1985Smith Walter ESlide bar guitar
US5696337 *Feb 13, 1996Dec 9, 1997Hall; Charles R.Concave finger board for stringed instruments
US5852249 *Jul 3, 1997Dec 22, 1998Actodyne General, Inc.Elongated string support for a stringed musical instrument
US6034308 *Feb 18, 1997Mar 7, 2000Hampshire CollegeErgonomic string instrument
US6965066Jan 15, 2003Nov 15, 2005Actodyne General, Inc.Elongated string support for a stringed musical instrument
US7211719Jun 29, 2005May 1, 2007Blake Jason DStringed instrument
US7622662Nov 24, 2009Thomas O. ShaperString percussion instrument
US20030094087 *Jul 15, 2002May 22, 2003Gregory Maestro AlexStringed musical instruments and method therefor
US20070000370 *Jun 29, 2005Jan 4, 2007Blake Jason DStringed instrument
US20080134860 *Nov 27, 2007Jun 12, 2008Thomas O. ShaperString percussion instrument
WO2015105726A1 *Jan 12, 2015Jul 16, 2015Calder Michael AlexanderGuitar playing accessory
Classifications
U.S. Classification84/267, 84/319, 84/314.00R
International ClassificationG10D1/08
Cooperative ClassificationG10D1/08
European ClassificationG10D1/08