An interesting piece of zither history in the form of a zither patent, providing an example of amplification techniques employed in a zither's construction. Thank you to Jane Curtis for providing the English translation for the German patent which follows:
Johannes Pugh in Altona
Zither with air chambers for amplifying tone
Patented in the German Empire from 5 March 1879
(See attached PDF for original patent with illustrations)
This invention consists of providing the zither with a double bottom, thereby dividing it into two spaces, one on top of the other. The upper space in turn is divided by vertical partitions into a number of chambers whose size is chosen so that the individual tones of the instrument find chambers whose air columns when the tones are struck resonate together and thereby contribute to the amplification of the tones.
The attached drawing represents the construction of the zither. A is the bottom of the instrument, B the middle layer, and C the top surface of the resonance box. B and C each have a circular hole, whereby the hole in the upper surface C is about one third larger than that in the lower layer. a…a are the vertical partitions between B and C. Each of the chambers so created has one or more openings, on the side of the instrument or on the top surface C. These openings, designated o in the drawing, allow the sound waves to escape. The line Z, Fig. 1, represents the strings that are left out of the drawing for the sake of clarity. The size of the individual chambers must be chosen in each case according to the size, strength, and type of the respective instruments and must be synchronized by means of the holes.
The advantages of this invention should be a powerful amplification of the tone and the avoidance of the sharp tinkly tone that is more or less associated with the zither. In comparison with the Zakaria zither table with its air-resonance structure, this construction also has the advantage that the resonance structure is part of the the instrument.
Explains the use of air chambers on zithers, between an inserted middle surface and the top surface of the resonance box, for the purpose and in the manner described and through the attached drawing.
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