The occasional addition of electric bass and drums, and the general demand for greater and greater volume in bluegrass bands has created an occasional need for electric amplification of the fiddle.
Our forefathers played through giant steam-driven amplifiers. Primitive and bulky, it took as many as twelve hours to get the boiler temperature up, and was a nuisance to move during indian raids and hailstorms.
The first recorded incidence of amplified fiddling occurred in 1789. Captain Obidiah Grunte was playing “Leather Britches” under an elm in Dunwich, Massachusetts when a sudden thunderstorm sprung up.
A lightening bolt struck Obidiah hurling him 50 yards to a stone fence containing some copper-rich ore. Still resounding and glowing, the vibrations of “Leather Britches” by the now charged fencing were transferred to an abutting hollow log which amplified the strains of the tune to monstrous proportions.
The clientele of the Bull & Stoole tavern, some twenty miles away heard “a mighty scream and thence a huge fiddyle playing a reele” and immediately began a barbarous round dance which lasted until the echoes died away the next morning.
Thus Obidiah Grunte is credited with the invention of both the amplified violin and reverb unit.