A podcast about unrepeatable experiments in music & art by Dave Hilowitz

Episode 3: The People's Instrument

If you flip through any musical instrument catalog, one fact will become blindingly clear: the guitar is by far the most popular instrument in America. But that wasn’t always the case, and I’ve often wondered: if the electric guitar hadn’t gotten so popular, what would we be playing instead?

To answer this question, I take a trip back in time by means of the 1903 Sears Roebuck catalog and a series of Philadelphia junk shops. In the process, I discover a type of instrument that used to be hugely popular and is now all but forgotten: the fretless zither. After finding and restoring a host of instruments I’d never seen before, including phonoharps, Marxophones, and Taishogotos, I end up building a harp of my own.

Phonoharp No. 2

Phonoharp No. 2 Image 1 Phonoharp No. 2 Image 2 Phonoharp No. 2 Image 4

Mandolin Guitarophone (Marxophone)

Mandolin Guitarophone Image 1 Mandolin Guitarophone Image 3 Mandolin Guitarophone Image 2 Mandolin Guitarophone Image 4


Taishogoto Image 1 Taishogoto Image 2

Dave’s Harp

Dave's Harp Image 1 Dave's Harp Image 3 Dave's Harp Image 2

Coming soon.