US 3788183 A
A stringed instrument having the strings carried on an extended stick, and a sounding plate affixed to the stick to amplify the vibrations of the strings. The sounding plate is a thin sheet of resilient material which is flexed when mounted upon the stick to impose bending stresses upon the plate.
Claims available in
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent 1 1 1111 3,788,183
Mariner Jan. 29, 1974  STRINGED INSTRUMENT WITH A 3,538,807 11/1970 Francis 84/267 SOUNDING PLATE FOREIGN PATENTS OR APPLICATIONS Inventor: Ralph Mariner, 2060 Patton 115,938 2/1900 Germany 84/274 Ct., Denver, Colo. 802l9  Filed: Feb. 5, 1973 Primary Examiner-Richard B. Wilkinson Assistant Examiner-John F. Gonzales [211 Appl' 329682 Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Van Valkenburgh, Lowe & Law  US. Cl. 84/291, 84/294 [51 Int. Cl.. Gl0d 3/00  ABSTRACT  held of 3 290494 A stringed instrument having the strings carried on an 19 275 extended stick, and a sounding plate affixed to the stick to amplify the vibrations of the strings. The  References cued sounding plate is a thin sheet of resilient material UNITED STATES PATENTS which is flexed when mounted upon the stick to im- 1,927,575 9/1933 Shireson 84/296 pose bending stresses upon the plate. 2,558,893 7/l95l Wolff 84/296 10 Claims, 16 Drawing Figures PATEHTEB M429 1974 saw 2 0F 2 STRINGED INSTRUMENT WITH A SOUNDING PLATE This invention relates to stringed, musical instruments classified as chordophonic instruments such as violins and guitars, and more particularly to the construction of sounding boards for such stringed instruments.
The different types of chordophonic stringed instruments which are available are distinguished mainly by the construction of their bodies and the manner in which sounding boards are incorporated into the bodies to reinforce the tone of the strings by sympathetic vibrations. Also, the quality of the tone of an instrument is determined by the construction of different bodies and to exemplify this, one merely has to compare the tones of violins, mandolins, guitars, banjos and lutes.
In recent years, amateur and professional instrument makers have been experimenting with different types of bodies for chordophonic stringed instruments with various objectives in view. It is desirable to enhance the appearance of the instrument and to produce distinctive tonal characteristics, and if necessary, such instruments may be deficient in the amplification of the string vibrations because electronic amplifiers can to used to amplify the sound produced by an instrument through a speaker. On the whole, none of the efforts to develop an improved stringed instrument have produced any significant advances. In fact, many new types of instruments are not as good in quality as conventional, old-styled instruments such as guitars and violins.
Insofar as the public is concerned, there is a persistent and increasing demand for a low cost stringed instrument having reasonable amplification and a good tone. The present invention is directed toward meeting this demand and at the same time, providing the public with an innovation in the various types of stringed instruments. The present invention, in its fundamental aspect, is based upon the discovery that the sounding board need not be incorporated into an elaborate body, but may be a simple plate of a selected form and size which is merely flexed to place the material forming the plate under stress as in the manner hereinafter set forth. To distinguish this construction constituting the present invention from the conventional sounding boards which are incorporated into the bodies of conventional instruments, the invention is called a stringed instrument with a sounding plate."
An object of the invention is to provide a novel and improved stringed instrument which uses a flexed sheet for a sounding plate to eliminate all but the essential features necessary to form the instrument.
Another object of the invention is to provide a novel, simplified construction of a stringed instrument with a sounding plate which will produce an excellent, amplified tone comparable with the tones of conventional instruments such as violins and guitars.
Another object of the invention is to provide a novel, simplified stringed instrument whereon various sounding plates may be mounted and easily changed to selectively modify the appearance and tonal qualities of the instrument.
Other objects of the invention are to provide a novel, simplified stringed instrument with a sounding plate which may be built as a low cost instrument, yet be neat-appearing, rugged, durable and capable of high quality performance.
With the foregoing and other objects in view, my present invention comprises certain constructions, combinations and arrangements of parts and elements as hereinafter described, defined in the appended claims, and illustrated in preferred embodiment by the accompanying drawing in which:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an individual playing a stringed instrument constructed according to the principles of the invention with a sounding plate mounted upon the stick and with the sounding plate being formed in a decorative but also functional manner to permit the player to hold it with his body.
FIG. 2 is a plan view of the instrument shown at FIG. 1.
FIG. 3 is an edge view of the instrument shown at FIG. 2.
FIG. 4 is an edge view similar to FIG. 3, but with the sounding plate removed from the stick of the instrument, indicative of the manner in which the instrument may be kept when it is not in use.
FIG. 5 is a fragmentary detail view of a portion of the instrument, as from the indicated arrow 5 at FIG. 3, but on an enlarged scale.
FIG. 6 is a fragmentary edge view of the portion shown at FIG. 5.
FIG. 7 is a sectional detail as taken from the indicated line 77 at FIG. 6.
FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a stringed instrument constructed in accordance with the principles of the invention, but with a pair of sounding plates mounted upon the stick.
FIG. 9 is a plan view of a sounding plate formed with a narrowed central portion.
FIG. 10 is a diagrammatic view of a stringed instrument with a sounding plate mounted upon the stick to indicate, in an approximate manner, the proportions of the sounding plate with respect to the length of the stick.
FIG. 1 1 is a perspective view of a stringed instrument having an elongated sounding plate which is substantially as long as the stick.
FIG. 12 is a fragmentary detail view of an end of the instrument as from the indicated arrow 12 at FIG. 11, but on an enlarged scale to show another mode of attaching the plate to the stick.
FIG. 13 is a fragmentary side view of the portion shown at FIG. 12.
FIG. 14 is a fragmentary perspective detail to show a clip at a side of the stick to hold a sounding plate in the position illustrated at FIG. 15.
FIG. 15 is a perspective view of a stringed instrument where the sounding plate is affixed to the side of the stick.
FIG. 16 is a perspective view of a stringed instrument where the sounding plate is oriented longitudinally with respect to the stick.
The several stringed instruments which embody the invention, as shown in the drawing, can be proportioned to be comparable with any selected conventional chordophonic stringed instrument such as a violin or a guitar, or even a bass viol. However, the basic construction of an instrument embodying the invention differs from that of a conventional instrument in that the body is eliminated and the string-holding stick S extends the entire length of the instrument. Also, a sheetlike member, a sounding plate P, P and P", to designate the different forms in the drawing, is flexed and connected to the stick. For example, a guitar-like instrument is illustrated at FIGS. 1 7, using a sounding plate P. Thus, the two primary components of this instrument are the stick S and the sounding plate P. It is to be noted that the sounding plate P may be removed from the stick as shown at FIG. 4, and that other types of sounding plates may be used as hereinafter described.
The stick S is an elongated bar-like member formed of rigid material which is capable of transmitting vibrations from strings 21 mounted upon it. Such material may be a selected piece of hardwood, or metal or a rigid, but resilient plastic material such as Fiberglas. The stick S will extend the full length of the instrument and this length will depend upon the type of instrument desired. For example, if the instrument were to be comparable with a violin, its length would be approximately 18 inches, while if it were to be comparable with a guitar, its length would be approximately 36 inches. It may be rectangular in section and the width is selected to properly underlay the strings 21. The thickness is selected to effectively withstand the compression and bending stresses imposed upon it by the strings 21. A stick S may also be reinforced by steel bars or the like if such is necessary.
The anchoring arrangement at each end of the stick 20 to hold the strings 21 is essentially conventional and the number and size of these strings may be selected to emulate a specific type of stringed instrument. For example, if the instrument is to be similar to a guitar, six strings will be used as illustrated. A peg end 22 is formed at the outward end of this stick and the string ends are connected to adjustment pegs 23 at this peg end. The strings extend from the adjustment pegs 23 over a nut 24, a short notched bar at the base of the peg end. Thence, the strings extend over the fingerboard section 25 of the stick where frets 26 may be located and to a bridge 27 at the base section of the instrument. The strings extend from the bridge and are anchored to a tailpiece 28 near or at the base end of the stick.
It is apparent that this stick 20 and the strings 21 thereon can be considered as a musical instrument. However, the tones produced by the strings will be barely audible. Such a stick-like instrument has heretofore found utility only as a practice instrument where it is desired to subdue the tones produced. Sound amplification in some manner is essential to provide a true musical instrument and in conventional instruments, a box-like body is provided with one or more sections of the body providing a sounding board structure.
The present invention provides for sounding plates P, P or P" which are flat sheets of flexible material bent to an arcuate form. A number of different materials have been found to be suitable for forming these plates, such as sheet metal, plywood, high pressure laminates such as Formica, and even corrugated cardboard. Also, synthetic resin sheets, such as reinforced Fiberglas, may be used with excellent results. The thickness of the sheet material is not critical providing that the sheet is thin enough to permit it to be flexed, and is thick enough to maintain its shape. Where excessively thin sheets are used, they may be reinforced by longitudinal strips which flex with the sheet.
The sounding plates P, P and P" are preferably, but not necessarily, quadrilaterals and they may be rectangles, as shown by the plate P at FIGS. 8, 10, ll, 14 and 15. As such, a plate P is formed with a forward end edge 30, a rear end edge 31 and side edges 32. It is mounted on two spaced-apart brackets 33 on the stick S which may be at various locations on the stick, and preferably, at the underside of the stick opposite the strings. Nevertheless, the plate P may be mounted upon a side edge of the stick as will be described. These brackets 33 connect with the forward and rear edges 30 and 31 of the plate P and are spaced apart a distance less than the length of the plate P to flex it to an arcuate form which is, essentially, a segment of a cylindrical surface as best shown at FIG. 3.
Other forms of the sounding plate may be used and one preferred form of a sounding plate P is shown at FIGS. 1 7. This plate P and the stick S whereon it is mounted are proportioned to simulate a guitar. The edges of the plate P are curved in an ornamental pattern to produce a pleasing appearance and also, to provide the functional result of permitting the instrument to be held by the player's body to free his hands as is now explained. 1
Although suggestive of a rectangle, the form of the plate P is more nearly that of a scalene quadrilateral with curved edges. The lower side edge 32, with respect to the position of the instrument when held as in FIG. 1, is provided with a curved concavity 34 adjacent to the forward end edge 30 of the plate. The upper side edge 32 is formed as a concave are 35 and cooperates with the opposing concavity 34 to permit a player to fit the are 35 against his chest and the concavity 34 against his thigh to hold the instrument with his body as illustrated. The rear end edge 31 of this plate P is inclined rearwardly from the lower side edge at a small angle with respect to the longitudinal axis of the stick. A square, transverse shoulder portion 36 is provided at the center of this rear end edge 31, at the juncture with the bracket 33' of the stick. The forward end edge 30' is inclined forwardly from the lower side edge of the sheet and is ornamentally curved to provide a neat appearing form. A square, transverse shoulder 37 is provided at the center of this forward end edge 30, at the juncture with the bracket 33 of the stick.
The square shoulder portions 36 and 37 are provided to produce a solid, firm connection between the arched sheet P and the underside of the stick S, at the brackets 33. A firm connection, such as the connection being described or any other similar connection, is needed if sympathetic amplifying vibrations are to effectively pass from the strings 21 to the stick S and thence, to the sounding plate P. The shoulders 36 and 37 are each provided with a tab 38 which may be bent out of the plane of the sheet a distance sufficient to permit each tab 38 to lie flatly against the underside of the stick when the plate is properly flexed. Each bracket 33' holds a tab 38 against the stick with a tight, snug fit and includes a wide U-shaped clamp 39 whose crotch bears against the tab 38 at the underside of the stick and whose legs embrace the side of the stick. A lock pin 40 extends through each leg of the clamp and into a socket 41 in the adjacent side of the stick to hold the clamp 39 in position. A series of sockets 41 may be provided in the sides of the stick to permit the sounding plate P to be shifted along the stick, and also, to change the degree of flexure of the plate from that shown. It is contemplated that the sounding plate will be easily disconnected from the stick for storage as illustrated at FIG. 4.
Tests relating to the size and shape of the sounding plate indicate, generally, that the form or shape is not especially critical and that the size variations may be considerable. Also, combinations of sounding plates can be used to advantage. In the arrangement exemplified in FIG. 8, a small plate PS and a large plate PL are mounted upon a stick in tandem. When playing an instrument arranged thus, the small plate will more effectively reflect the high pitched tones and the larger plate will more effectively reflect the lower pitched tones to produce a tweeter and woofer effect.
A good amplification of sound appeared to come from a plate P", as shown at FIG. 9, where the side edges 32" are concaved to provide a narrow, central portion.
The primary dimensions to define the size limitations of a plate are indicated at FIG. where the length L and width W of the plate P are compared with the length LS of the stick S. Insofar as the length of the plate was concerned, it was found that this plate could be practically as long as the stick, as exemplified at FIG. 1 1. As the length of the plate is reduced, the tone amplification is correspondingly reduced, but such a reduction of amplification does not become noticeable until the length of the plate is approximately onefourth the length of this stick. However, this plate length L can be further reduced, to as little as approximately one-eighth the length LS of the stick without seriously impairing the quality of tonal reproduction. Likewise, the width W of the plate may be varied considerably, the maximum width being limited only by the bulk and awkwardness of an excessively wide plate, while the minimum width W required to obtain a tone of suitable quality may be as little as one-eighth the length LS of the stick or even somewhat less.
A number of alternate constructions of this instrument are possible by varying the manner in which the sound plate is mounted upon the stick. In every instance, it is important that the sounding plate P be flexed and under stress before it will function satisfactorily and an instrument having a pre-formed sounding plate where it is not stressed when mounted upon the stick, will not effectively vibrate to amplify the tones of the strings on the stick. It is also desirable that each end of the sounding plate P be solidly connected to the stick and the brackets 33 may be varied in structure provided this requirement is met. Accordingly, a modified bracket 43, shown at FIGS. 12 and 13, is indicated as connecting the plate P of FIG. 11 to the stick S. This bracket 43 is formed as a clip angle 44 secured to the underside of the stick and an car 45 is secured to the connective edge of the plate. The ear is bent from the surface of the plate to fit snugly against the outstanding leg of the clip angle so that the two may be connected together by a thumb screw 46. With this arrangement, the plate can be swung from an under position, directly underneath the stick, to an inclination with respect to the stick. This will place the plate at any inclined position which is convenient for the player of the instrument.
The clip 47 at FIG. 16 exemplifies a construction which permits a plate P to be attached to a side of the instrument as illustrated at FIG. 15. This clip 47 consists ofa block which is attached to the side of the stick as by a screw 48. It includes a slot 49 wherein the edge of the plate P may be fitted. A thumb screw 50, directed into this slot, will tightly grip the edge of the plate when it is fitted into the slot.
FIG. 16 illustrates another modified arrangement of an instrument where the plate is carried by a pair of arms 52 outstanding from the sides of the stick to provide an instrument where the arch of the bent plate P parallels the stick instead of being perpendicular to the stick as heretofore described.
I have now described my invention in considerable detail. However, it is obvious that others skilled in the art can build and devise alternate and equivalent constructions which are nevertheless within the spirit and scope of my invention. Hence, I desire that my protection be limited, not by the constructions illustrated and described, but only by the proper scope of the appended claims.
1. A stringed instrument comprising:
a. a stick whereon tuned strings are mounted to produce tonal vibrations;
b. a sounding plate formed as a flat resilient sheet having opposing edges which are brought toward each other by flexing the sheet to an arcuate form encompassing an arc of less than and c. means for holding the opposing edges of the flexed plate to the stick, with the plate being essentially at one side of the stick and with said holding means resisting the opposing forces produced by flexing the plate to provide continuity between the stick and plate, whereby the plate forms a responsive resonator and will amplify the vibrations produced by the strings on the stick.
2. The instrument defined in claim 2, wherein:
said opposing edges include shoulder portions snugly fitting against the stick at the holding means.
3. The stringed instrument defined in claim I,
the length of the plate is greater than approximately one-eighth the length of the stick.
4. The stringed instrument defined in claim 1,
the connection of the opposing edges to the stick is at the underside of the stick, opposite the strings.
5. The stringed instrument defined in claim 1, wherein:
the holding means comprises a pair of brackets attached to the stick, and a slot-like space at the brackets is provided to receive an edge portion of the plate.
6. The stringed instrument defined in claim 1,
the holding means comprises a cross bar secured to the stick and the aforesaid opposing edges of the plate are secured to the opposing ends of the cross bar.
7. The stringed instrument defined in claim 1,
an abutment section is formed at each of the aforesaid opposing edges and a tongue extends from each abutment section; and
the aforesaid securing means includes a U-shaped bracket adapted to hold the abutment tongue against the stick.
8. The stringed instrument defined in claim 1,
the sounding plate is essentially rectangular in form. the side edges of the sounding plate are curved to I 9. The stringed instrument defined in claim 1, conform with the body and thigh of a player in a wherein: seated position permitting the player to hold the the sides of the sounding plate are concaved to proi t nt i t hi body vide a central portion narrower than the end portions.v R0. The stringed instrument defined in claim 1, wherein: