This is a one-of-a-kind, hand-crafted instrument created by Ben "Gitty" Baker, founder of C. B. Gitty Crafter Supply. Ben came up with idea of the Hobo Fiddle after delving deeply into the history and lore of America's hoboes. He has drawn upon that history, and his own love of trains and railroads, to create this heirloom musical instrument.
To create this Hobo Fiddle, Ben started with an antique "Corina Larks" brand cigar box. On the lid, which became the soundboard of the instrument, he hand-woodburned a sketch by Farley Andresen. The woodburned scene, based on an old photo, shows a group of hoboes gathered in a "jungle camp", with some boxcars in the background. Farley re-imagined the scene in her sketch, showing the men playing homemade instruments and singing around the jungle fire, in keeping with Ben's "3-String Sam" storyline.
The neck of the instrument is hand-crafted from a piece of timber salvaged from an old water tank along the tracks in the little railroad town of Bellevue, Ohio. The tower was built in the late 1800's and refilled the tanks on uncounted steam locomotives over the years. That same water tank would have been the place where hoboes moving through the railyard would have carved their road names ("monikers"), to let other travelers know they had been there, and where they were going. Ben woodburned old hobo symbols into the neck as fret markers as an extra touch.
The headstock is woodburned with "The Hobo Fiddle" branding, and set with an old railroad number nail from 1931 - during the worst of the Great Depression. The track workers would pound these specially forged nails into the railroad ties to mark the year they were installed. There is also an old silver U. S. "Mercury dime" stuck under the bridge - the sort of coin that would have bought a hobo a cup of coffee and maybe a stale donut, just enough grub to get him on to the next town.
This Hobo Fiddle is strung with three nylon strings and tuned to Open G "GDG", with a 17-inch scale. The overall length is just over 24 inches.
Ben has signed and numbered the back panel of this instrument with permanent ink. Also included with this instrument is a signed and numbered certificate of authenticity, a set of two "Hobo Glyphs" posters designed by Ben Gitty, a spare set of strings, and a signed copy of Ben's book "The Legend of the Hobo Fiddle" that includes stories, history, hobo songs and more.
A note from Ben Gitty: "It is hard for me to let any of these instruments go. So much time and feeling goes into each one, and the end result is so meaningful to me, that selling one feels somehow sacrilegious. But, I can't hold onto them all and I want to have a reason to keep building them, so I must let one go once in a while. This is not an instrument for a person who wants a shiny, new, perfect guitar. Go to Guitar Center and by a factory-made strat if that's what you want. This is also not an instrument for someone who just wants a cheap, basic cigar box guitar. These are hand-crafted and hand-decorated one-of-a-kind works of art that I pour my heart and soul into, something that I think is truly unique. I came up with the name and idea of the Hobo Fiddle, to try to encapsulate the sort of instrument that an actual hobo might have built for himself out on the road. I know there are folks out there who will see the value of that, and who won't balk at the price I have chosen to put on my work. Please, don't buy this instrument if the words above don't resonate with you - I want these instruments to belong to folks who really get it. I know that's not the sort of sales pitch that will win any awards, but I'm OK with that."