I have no idea what to call this oddball bowed thingamajig. There are folk fiddles of similar style all over the world and deriving from many cultures (all fretless, though), but it looks a lot like an erhu. Maybe it should be called a culturally-insensitive "tinhu," especially as Chinese New Year just wrapped-up. I've been wanting to try something like this out for a while -- ever since I made that weird "reverb tin" ukulele. I spent 2 1/2 hours on Saturday putting this together, which meant cutting, finishing and fretting the neck, and setting it up to play well.
It's a weird instrument and our kids love it. The sound is bizarre and feels like it's coming through layers of effects and EQ work -- thought it's totally natural. I apologize for the squeakiness in the soundclip as I found that my last puck of rosin was loaned-out to a friend so I was using a bow with rapidly-decreasing amounts of the stuff on it.
As far as how it's made? It's a simply "stuff a neck through the tin" like on cigar-box guitars, these days, and I used a bit of walnut I've had for years and never found a use for. I finished it with a coat of wipe-on poly and it dried enough to use in half an hour.
This instrument has a 6" tin, 18" scale length, walnut neck, and very simple rosewood bridge (I haven't yet re-cut it into a prettier shape).
It's got a bone nut, Kluson-style tuners, and jumbo frets.
I simply drilled some holes in the top to make a "soundhole." If you notice, there's a little metal loop going through two of them. That connects to...
...the spring inside that runs from the top to the back. This is what gives the instrument its natural "spring reverb" and crazy-long decay/sustain -- though the tin itself has some of that characteristic already.
Note also the two ball-ends for the strings that run right through the neck and out the top. You take the back off to load the strings. This kept it simple and tidy and did away with the need for a tailpiece.
As far as tone goes without the spring -- it's just a little more "boring."
Like an erhu and many traditional fiddles from around the world, this is played with the body between your knees in a sitting position.