Aluminum Violin


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.

Date Made: 1932

Maker: Aluminum Company of America

Location: Currently not on view

Place Made: United States: Michigan, Ann Arbor

See more items in: Culture and the Arts: Musical Instruments, Music & Musical Instruments, Violins


Exhibition Location:

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 1988.0311.01Accession Number: 1988.0311Catalog Number: 1988.0311.01Serial Number: 356

Object Name: violin

Physical Description: aluminum (overall material)Measurements: 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


Record Id: nmah_606735

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