The transverse sound bar 60 of wood or similar material has an inherent or natural spring resistance or resilience, and being securely fixed or secured to and in the receiving and seating structure therefor provided by ribs 61, will function to resist the tendency of the plastic sounding board S to bend or deform under the pressures to which the board is subjected. And due to the natural characteristics of the wood, of which bar 50 is formed, together with its location and manner of mounting at the under side of the sounding board S in relation to sound opening E and to body B, the tone of such an all-plastic stringed musical instrument is materially improved in quality.
The ribs 23 at the under side of sounding board S, provide effective structure for resisting and overcoming the tendency of the sounding board to twist or distort under the torsional or pressure forces which are applied thereto by tension of the strings 1, 2, 3 and 4, as well as by the torsional forces developed by the strumming transversely of the strings by the player. By positioning these ribs 23 longitudinally of the body and generally parallel with the strings, interference with the resonance, volume and tone qualities of the body or hell B is avoided.
The finger board F is molded of polystyrene to form the elongated plate or strip 30 having the depending flanges 31 along opposite longitudinal sides thereof but spaced a distance inwardly from the outer longitudinal edges of strip 30, so as to provide the opposite shoulders 31a. The finger board so formed is mounted on and over neck N with the flanges 31 extending into the neck between and forming a snug slip fit with the inner surfaces of the opposite side walls 16 of the neck and with shoulders 31a seating upon the upper or outer edges of neck side walls 15 (see Figs. 6 and 7). The finger board plate or base 39 is cemented and secured in assembled position on and completely over and closing the outer side of neck N, with the inner end 30a of the plate projected a distance beyond the adjacent ends of flanges 39 to extend over onto the upper side of sound board S for cementing thereto, as will be clear by reference to Figs. 1 and 2.
The finger board F includes the series of transversely disposed, parallel frets 35 thereon and there across, the frets being spaced progressively increasing distances apart outwardly along the finger board in the established manner for fretted finger boards of such types of musical instruments. By my invention, however, I have provided these frets as formed of what may be termed a metallic plastic molded on and bonded to the plate or base member 30 of the finger board to form in effect, fixed permanent components of the finger board. Referring now to Fig. 7, each of these frets is molded on and across the outer side of base member 30 and is bonded thereto by the bonds or sprues 35a extending in and through suitable spaced holes 35b transversely across member 30 in line with and defining the position of the fret. It is to be noted that each fret 35 terminates at its opposite ends spaced inwardly (in the specific example hereof about 1/64″) from the adjacent side edges, respectively, of the finger board, and that the opposite ends of each fret are rounded. This permits of a player sliding his fingers from one fret to another smoothly and without encountering rough or abruptly edged structure.
In the present example, each of the frets 35 is formed of clear, natural color polystyrene with which has been admixed a metallic powder or pigment such for example as aluminum in the proportion of approximately twenty to twenty five percent (20 to 25%) of the mixture. There is thus produced a metallic plastic having a silvery color and metallic characteristics when molded onto the base 30 as the series of spaced frets 35. A plastic fret is thereby formed which has, however, the desired metallic characteristics for efficient functioning of a string or strings when contacted therewith by the fingers of a player, while at the same time presenting the necessary contrasting color to the color of the base 30 of the finger board F. The position markers 36 which are provided at spaced intervals between frets 35 for the finger board F are, in this instance, similarly formed of such metallic molded as inlays in suitable openings in base member 30, with their outer surfaces flush with the outer surface of the base.
The formation, construction, materials coloring and other features of the finger board and the frets as herein disclosed are not claimed in this present application but are included and claimed in my pending application Serial No. 179,111, filed July 3, 1950, as a continuation-in-part of this present application Serial No. 149,741.
Following a further teaching of my invention, the outermost metallic plastic fret 35′ of finger board F, is located at or immediately adjacent the outer end of the base member 30 of the fingerboard and a separate string divider in the form of a plastic strip 31 is attached in position against and across the outer end of fingerboard base 38 and the adjacent end of the cover plate C on the head H, and occupying a space between the adjacent ends of the finger board and the cover plate. This plastic material string divider extends upwardly a distance above the outer surface of fingerboard F and a plane passing through the outer surface of the frets 35 and 35′. String divider 31 is provided with properly spaced transverse slots 31a across the outer or upper edge thereof and extending thereinto to a depth to receive and retain the strings in proper spaced relation elevated above and out of contact with the inner ends of the slots as the strings extend across and in contact with the outer end or first fret 35 to the tuning keys. Thus, the string divider 31 functions solely as a divider, and the first fret 35 is provided to function solely as a fret so that the metal characteristics of the metallic plastic of which it is formed may be utilized in obtaining the proper tone or note from any one of the strings 1, 2, 3 and 4 which may be pressed by the fingers of a player. The arrangement and combination of first fret 35 and string divider 31 of my invention is not claimed herein but is disclosed and claimed in my copending application Serial No. 265,074, filed January 5, 1952, as a division of this present application.
The bridge member D in the example instrument, is formed by a hollow, generally rectangular structure of polystyrene plastic. Bridge member D is open at its inner or under side and provides in this instance, a series of four (4) box structures 45 which depend from the upper wall of the bridge D, being spaced equal distances apart within and longitudinally of the bridge (see Fig. 3). These box structures H are each open at their outer side to provide the string end receiving openings 45a spaced along the outer longitudinal wall 16 of the bridge, as will be clear by reference to Figs. 2, 3 and 5. The upper wall 47 of the bridge is provided with string slots 41a disposed transversely thereof. and opening into the box structure 45 and through the outer edge of wall 47 and longitudinal Wall 46. Slots 41a terminate at their inner ends spaced outwardly a distance from the. inner longitudinal wall of the bridge D.
The bridge D is mounted on the outer side of sounding board S by a structure which includes at transverse rib 40 and a series of short spaced ribs or lugs 41 parallel with, but spaced outwardly from rib 40. Ribs 40 and 41 are molded as integral components of sounding board S to project outwardly therefrom and are so dimensioned and positioned as to permit of bridge D being fitted down there over into mounted position on the. sounding board with the ribs holding the bridge against lateral or longitudinal displacement. The bridge D is secured and attached in dual mounted position on sounding board S over ribs 40 and 41 by cementing, in the example instrument.
The ribs 41 are so dimensioned that the spaces 41a there between will align with and open into the openings 45a through Wall 46 into the bridge structures 35. Thus, the ends of the strings 2, 3 and 4‘ which may be knotted or otherwise prepared, are passed through the sets of aligned openings 41a-45a, respectively, with the strings received in and extending outwardly through the slots 41a. Thus, the knotted or prepared ends of the strings are engaged under the upper wall of the bridge and the strings held firmly anchored for tensioning by the tuning keys to which they are attached. Preferably, contact strip 40 of plastic material is cemented in a groove 48a (see Fig. 5 in the upperwall of bridge D. Strip 48 projects outwardly a distance from the outer face of bridge upper wall so as to provide a relatively thin but rounded surface, for receiving the strings in positions maintained spaced outwardly from the bridge, The bridge D, so constructed and mounted, provides for very easy mounting and removal of a string or strings from the instrument.
The bridge D on the sounding board S is not specifically claimed herein as such bridge and its mounting are disclosed and claimed in my copending application Serial No. 264,133, filed December. 29, 1951, as a division of this application.
The cover plate C is cemented on the outer side of the head H. Cover plate is provided with a flange 50 there around spaced inwardly from the outer edge thereof and extending inwardly from the inner side of the plate, so that a shoulder 51 is formed around the plate for seating on the outer edges of the side walls 18 and end wall 18a of the head, as will be clear by reference to Fig. 2 in connection with Fig. 5. The tuning keys GI, G2, G3 and G4 may be of any desired construction for mounting and journal ing in and extending through the assembled head H and cover plate C. In this particular example, bushings 53 are formed or molded as integral components of and projecting from the inner side of cover plate C for journaling therein the key spindles 54, respectively. With the head H and cover plate C in assembled relation, the bushings 53 are disposed between the head and cover plate and rotatably receive the key spindles 54, with these spindles projecting through suitable bores in head H to receive at the under side of the head the key handles 55 by which the spindles are rotated.
While I have shown a stringed musical instrument of the ukulele type by way of example, in which the bridge D has attached thereto the end portions of the strings, it is to be understood that my invention is not so limited, as the features thereof may and are intended to, be expressed in various other types of stringed musical instruments in which the strings, instead of being directly attached or anchored to the sounding board mounted bridge, are extended across the sounding board over a bridge or equivalent structure to anchor structure or points on or carried by the body of the, instrument removed from the sounding board.
The various features of the invention as hereinbefore described and as embodied in the stringed musical instrument of the, ukulele type of the illustrated example are adapted to embodiment in stringed musical instruments of this general class, of various sizes and shapes and with varying numbers of strings intended either for finger strumming or. for picking or vibrating with a pick, bow or other instrumentality. And for the sake of brevity, the, term ukulele, or the expression stringed musical instrument of the ukulele type has been used in the appended claims, and wherever such term or expression appears it is used as a generic, broad expression and is to be interpreted to include any and all musical instruments of the general class, unless in any such claim where used such term or expression is given by other context a clearly intended more restricted or limited meaning.
Several features of the invention, notably the sound opening amplifier structure; the antitorsion ribs on the under side of the sounding board; and the arrangement of separate, string divider and first or outer fret on the finger board, while they may have their greatest utility and efficiency with the plastic instrument of the invention, are all capable of adaptation to and embodiment in wood or other material instruments.
It will also be evident that various other forms, designs, embodiments, substitutions, eliminations, additions and combinations may be resorted to without departing from the broad spirit and scope of the appended claims, and hence I do not wish to limit myself in all respects to the exact and specific disclosures of the selected example instrument hereof What I claim is:
1. In a stringed musical instrument including, in combination; a hollow, closed-wall resonant bell having the top side thereof open; a hollow neck on said bell; a head on said neck; said ball, said neck and said head being comprised of a one-piece, integral molded plastic component and said bell being shaped to substantially close the adjacent end of said neck; a sounding board comprised of a molded plastic component, said plastic sounding board having a sound opening therein and being directly cemented to said closed-wall resonant plastic bell at and around the open side thereof in position thereon over and closing said open side to form with said bell a resonant all-plastic musical instrument body; a molded plastic finger board on and cemented directly to said neck; a head cover member on and cemented directly to said head on said neck; and keys mounted on said head and head cover member.
2. In a stringed musical instrument including,
in combination; a hollow, closed-wall resonant bell having the top side only thereof open; a hollow neck on said bell; a head on said neck; said bell, said neck and said head being comprised of a one-piece, integral molded plastic component; a sounding board formed of a molded plastic member and having a sound opening therein; a molded plastic bridge member forming a rigid, fixed portion of said sounding board in position on the outer side thereof and being adapted for the attachment thereto under tension of the ends of the playing strings of the instrument; said molded plastic sounding board being cemented on and directly to said molded plastic bell as a permanent fixed component thereof in position over and closing the open top side of said bell to form therewith a resonant hollow musical instrument body; a molded plastic finger board on and cemented directly to said neck; a head member on and cemented directly to said head on said neck; and keys mounted on said head and head member.
3. In a stringed musical instrument including, in combination; a hollow, closed-wall resonant bell formed of bottom, end and side walls open only at the top side thereof; a hollow neck on said bell; a head on said neck; said bell, said neck and said head being comprised of a one-piece, integral molded thermoplastic component having a sound opening therein; a molded thermoplastic bridge structure forming a fixed, rigid portion of said sounding board at the outer side thereof adapted for the attachment thereto under tension of the ends of the playing strings of the instrument; said thermoplastic sounding board being cemented directly to said thermoplastic bell in position over and closing said open top side of said bell to form therewith a substantially one-piece resonant hollow musical instrument body; a thermoplastic finger board positioned on and cemented directly to said neck; a head cover member on and cemented directly to said head on said neck; and keys mounted on said head and said head cover member.
4. As a new article of manufacture, a stringed musical instrument comprising, in combination, a resonant bell consisting of side walls, end walls and a bottom wall formed to provide an integral wall structure open at the top side thereof; a hollow neck rigidly joined with and extending outwardly from one end wall of said bell and having an open inner end closed solely by said end wall of the bell; a head at the outer end of said hollow neck; said bell, said neck. and said head being formed by a one-piece, integral component of a molded thermoplastic; a sounding board formed of a molded thermoplastic having a sound opening therein and being formed with inwardly projecting flanges on the inner side thereof adjacent but spaced inwardly from the outer side and end edges of said sounding board, said flanges being located in positions to extend into and form a slip fit with said bell wall structure at the open side thereof; said sounding board being mounted in position over and closing the open side of said bell with said flanges received therein and being cemented directly to the portions of said bell wall structure at the open top side thereof to form with said bell a hollow resonant body; a molded thermoplastic bridge structure rigid with said sounding board in position at the outer side thereof; a molded thermoplastic finger board cemented to said neck; a head cover member on and cemented directly to said head on said neck; string tuning keys mounted on said head and said head cover member; and playing strings connected at their opposite ends to and being extended under tension between said tuning keys on said head and said bridge structure on said sounding board.
5. As a new article of manufacture, a stringed musical instrument comprising, in combination; a resonant bell consisting of side walls, end walls and a bottom wall formed to provide an integral wall structure open at the top side thereof; a hollow neck integral with and closed by one end wall of said bell, said hollow neck being open along the top side thereof and said bell and said neck being formed of a. molded thermoplastic; a sounding board formed of a molded thermoplastic member having a sound opening therein and being formed with inwardly projecting flanges on the inner side thereof at locations to extend within said bell wall structure through the open side thereof; said sounding board being positioned on said bell over the open top side thereof and being cemented directly to said bell walls; a molded thermoplastic finger board having inwardly projecting flanges on the inner side thereof in locations to extend through the open top side of said neck, said finger board being positioned on said hollow neck over the open top side thereof and being cemented directly to said neck; a head integral with said neck; a head cover member on and cemented directly to said head on said neck; a bridge on and rigid with said sounding board for the attachment thereto under tension of the ends of playing strings of the instrument; and keys mounted on said head and said head cover member.
The following references are of record in the file of this patent:
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