The Stumpf Fiddle


Rob Dixon, Columnist

The stumpf fiddle, also known as the pogo cello, is the coming together of percussion and string instruments, but is in no way a fiddle. A basic stumpf fiddle consists of bailing wire for strings, a pie tin, and whatever else the maker feels like adding on to it. The possibilities are nearly endless, with things like cowbells, drums, woodblocks, horns, and bells. Even with a wide array of bells and whistles on it, it is relatively easy to play. Just tap it to the beat and hit the various pieces with a drum stick.

The stumpf fiddle originated in the Midwest region in various music types such as bluegrass, polka, and country. Specifics about how the instrument was first created are unclear, but it is believed to have been emulated from rhythm sticks that most likely came over from Europe to America in the early 1900s.

It is rumoured that it was created by Harry Stumpf who had a pegleg decked out with all sorts of bells. One band that professionally plays the stumpf fiddle is Ali Gilkeson of the Rend Collective Experiment, a largely instrumental group of Northern Irish descent. The stumpf fiddle while widely unknown is a wonderful melding of music styles and instruments.