Aluminum Violin

Description (Brief)
This violin was made by the Aluminum Musical Instrument Company, Inc. in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1932. In the last decade of the 19th century Neil Merrill, president of the Aluminum Musical Instrument Co. in New York City, began incorporating aluminum in the manufacture of mandolins, fiddles, banjos, guitars and zithers. Fitted with spruce soundboards, the bodies of these instruments were pressed from one piece of aluminum.
Unrelated to Merrill's efforts, on March 24, 1932 the Buffalo plant of ALCOA (Aluminum Company of America) joined with Dr. Joseph Maddy, a music teacher from Ann Arbor and director of the National High School Orchestra Camp at Interlochen. They redesigned a 1928 aluminum double bass model in order to market aluminum violins, with bow and case for $50.00. The Buffalo plant assembled and finished the violins to resemble wood and Dr. Maddy provided the set-up work and sales from Ann Arbor. ALCOA records indicate the Buffalo Fabricating Plant provided a total of 435 violins to Dr. Maddy and about 500 double bass instruments to other dealers.
This 1932 model is molded with half-height ribs and back pressed from a single piece of aluminum joined at the center height of the ribs to a similarly molded aluminum table with half-height ribs. It is fitted with an aluminum neck with wood core, and an aluminum pegbox, scroll, bassbar and endpin. The exterior aluminum surfaces are painted to imitate wood grain.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Date made
Aluminum Company of America
Physical Description
aluminum (overall material)
overall: 23 3/4 in x 8 1/8 in x 3 15/16 in; 60.325 cm x 20.6375 cm x 10.00125 cm
Place Made
United States: Michigan, Ann Arbor
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
serial number
Music & Musical Instruments
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Musical Instruments
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
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