Strange stringed instrument

wheel instrumentI found this image online over the weekend and thought I’d share it with our readers.

I still haven’t figured out what it is. Eight strings, a banjo like design (including the tailpiece), and a pickup system, make for an interesting instrument.

I wonder what it sounds like? Not a lot of acoustic sound I would guess, which probably blacklists it at most bluegrass festivals. But with that wheel on there, it sure looks like you should be able to play pretty fast on this thing!