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The Aluminum Fallacy

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24 Dec 2007
Posts: 260
PostPosted: 06/17/2009 at 8:25 AM    Post subject: The Aluminum Fallacy link

For your amusement, this from S. S. Stewart's "Banjo And Guitar Journal" of October and November 1896. Stewart was the largest manufacturer of banjos, the most popular instrument in America of that era (this history is pretty essential to understand the history of 20th century guitar building, but hardly anybody pays any attention to it anymore!). This was a time of great technological explosion, and ideas about innovation were a big deal. Stewart really liked himself a lot, and enjoyed trying to take his imitators down a notch or two. The rest of his Journals are a really fun read too.

The Aluminum Fallacy

The craze for aluminum, the metal extracted from clay, started off like a rocket a few years ago, with a vast amount of imagination mixed with fact. Aluminum was to be used for the hulls of ships, for shoeing horses, for plugging teeth, for cooking utensils, for air balloons, for bicycles, and also for almost every kind of musical instruments. Aluminum banjos were tried and proved a failure. Aluminum banjo hoops and brackets also proved a fizzle, like the same metal for shoeing horses.
Now, some enterprising inventor proposes to give us aluminum mandolins, drums, and possibly guitars and violins.
"Claim everything," is the motto of the aluminum votary. So the aluminum workers claimed everything, even that the soft metal was better than wood, harder than steel and better in all respects than anything else on earth. One musical instrument manufacturer even goes so far as to claim that his aluminum bag pipes will not be affected by damp weather at the sea shore. We always supposed that dampness and humidity affected all musical sounds, and we are inclined to believe that this claim is much on the order of the claim put forth on the old patent closed back banjo, that it would sound as well in damp weather as in clear weather. Now, if they had said that it sounded as badly in clear weather as in damp weather, they would have come nearer to it.
Aluminum, like everything else, has its uses, but it is not a universal cure all. It has its disadvantages, like the celluloid mandolins, and collars and cuffs of that material. Drop a light on them and they go up in smoke. Your aluminum drums will not stand much salt water, and their future will proved the fallacy of attempting to realize a dream of aluminum violins.
Wood with proper seasoning, and with the grain well filled, will never give way to any metal extracted from clay. Better let the free silver shouters have it.

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