Jap fiddle

For the traditional Japanese bowed instrument, see Kokyū.
Commonwealth troops with a Jap fiddle during World War I

The Jap fiddle or Japanese fiddle was a one-stringed bowed instrument used by street performers, music hall performers, and vaudevillians[1] around the start of the 20th century, particularly in the United Kingdom and United States. The instrument was particularly associated with Cockney blackface performer G. H. Chirgwin.[2] A variant was later produced with a vibrating membrane and horn for amplification,[3] as a one-stringed phonofiddle.[4]

The instrument was likely named for its vague similarity to the Japanese kokyū, as in the late 1800s interest in East Asia had been piqued by the opening of Japan to foreign trade.[5]


  1. Experimental musical instruments. Experimental Musical Instruments. 1994. p. 13. Retrieved 1 April 2012.
  2. Rachel Cowgill; Julian Rushton (December 2006). Europe, empire, and spectacle in nineteenth-century British music. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. pp. 273–. ISBN 978-0-7546-5208-3. Retrieved 1 April 2012.
  3. Christine Hunt (1985). I'm ninety-five-- any objection?. Reed Methuen. p. 36. ISBN 978-0-474-00040-9. Retrieved 1 April 2012.
  4. English Folk Dance and Song Society (1983). English dance and song. The English Folk Dance and Song Society. p. 10. Retrieved 1 April 2012.
  5. American Musical Instrument Society (2000). Journal of the American Musical Instrument Society. American Musical Instrument Society. p. 201. Retrieved 1 April 2012.
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