The Diddley Bow


As if to prove that my life as become as virtual as Lincoln Rhyme‘s, I really cut that shit loose and celebrated blues guitar legend Buddy Guy’s recent 74th birthday by — brace for the scandal — reading his Wikipedia page. I mean, Buddy’s getting close to the big seven-five, so I wanted to majorly kick out the jams, you dig? We’re talking par-TAY.

Anyway, as it turns out, the esteemed Mr. Guy, like many young black men in Lousiana in the 1930s and ’40s, first learned to play music on a homemade Diddley Bow, aka “the jitterbug.” Buddy’s had two strings, but a Diddley Bow typically has a single string, leading to the instrument’s other nickname, the “one-string,” or its formal name, the “monocord zither,” which was also the name of a Lizard Men chieftain in the original Flash Gordon serials (okay, I made that last part up).

The Diddley Bow is usually played with a glass slide or a whiskey bottle, but the best-known appearance of the instrument on film is in Alan Lomax’s movie The Land Where the Blues Began.



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