The original "Celestial Fiddle."

The original "Celestial Fiddle."

Alfred Grosjean of Pasadena invented a sharp-angled violin, which is tuned three musical steps higher than an ordinary violinand and which he says reproduces the “celestial” or “seraphic” tones of ancient instruments. He calls it a “violaeol,” a word made up from violin and aeolian.
— Time Magazine - January 21, 1935.

My interest in the "Celestial Fiddle" is owed to one Tom Carlson who introduced me to this unique instrument a couple of years ago. A friend of Tom's in L.A. is in possession of two examples, made by the inventor, which have been in the same family since the 1930's. In 2013, Tom commissioned me to make a copy of the instrument. After a trip to Phoenix to make a drawing of the original I set to work reproducing this interesting violin. My version is not a true "copy" in the sense that I modified the neck and body dimensions to accommodate my patron. I also chose to modify the internal structure slightly to make the rib garland a bit more robust. 

My version of the "Celestial Fiddle" was completed in the summer of 2014. I have always enjoyed looking at the many interesting, innovative ideas that came about in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, especially as they apply to musical instruments. This project gave me the chance to indulge that desire on a whole other level. 

Enjoy!

- J. Rieck


 Original 1934 Patent filed by Alfred Grosjean

Original 1934 Patent filed by Alfred Grosjean

 Popular Mechanics article from 1935.

Popular Mechanics article from 1935.


Photos of the original Celestial Fiddle built c. 1934 by Alfred Grosjean in Pasadena, CA.

Photos of the Celestial Fiddle commissioned by Tom Carlson; built in 2014 by Josh Rieck in Sioux Falls, SD.


Audio was recorded at String Theory Luthiery with Krystal Pederson playing the fiddle.