Organology: Harp Guitar "Relatives"

Note to the casual reader or researcher: This Reference Gallery features historical instruments that are not harp guitars, but “relatives” or distant “cousins” – presented on for historical and organological comparison.

Multi-neck Guitars
by Gregg Miner

Not to be confused with harp guitars, as there are no unstopped strings. Includes double or multi-neck guitars, where each neck is fully fretted and capable of standard playing.

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Alexandre Voboam, 1690 This interesting instrument (French?), once listed as a "harpolyre" in the Yale University Collection of Musical Instruments (formerly in the Belle Skinner Collection at left, with non-original base), is an unrelated triple-neck guitar. Center neck is standard, left neck is likely terz, and right neck shorter scale (quart, quint, octave?).
© Yale University Collection of Musical Instruments
Photo credit: Alex Contreras

Ward "Harpo-Guitaret," 1898, Pat #613,540 Levin, 1897, guitar-mandolin dbl-neck, Pat #D28,061 Levin guitar-mandolin Englund, 1899, guitar-mandolin dbl-neck (with sympathetic strings), Pat #616,908

Lindemann, 1891, Pat #8918
3 of the 8 strings are underneath the fingerboard on a second fretted (with the thumb!) "neck." 
Pribyl, Prague, 1923, 
Patent # 1,472,991
Almost identical to Lindemann's; 4 of the 8 strings run over a fingerboard on the back of the neck.
This was a standard Washburn guitar that mechanical genius Demain Woods turned into a multi-stringed, multi-fretted,  mechanically-actuated one-man-band, ca. 1906. Even more astounding - the instrument survived, and sold on eBay on June, 2004! All the various strings appear to have been mechanically fretted - it's hard to tell from the pile of spare parts that came with it! I think that the strings beneath that long decorative cover have their own reverse fretboard, rather like the two previous patents - so I believe it qualifies as a "multi-neck" rather than as a true harp guitar.
(see the tuxedoed Mr. Woods with the instrument in Iconography).


Nonfri  "Improved Combined Guitar and Mandolin," 1916, Pat #1,188,983 Montfort, 1927, U.S. Pat #D72,433
octave mandola-
Bayreuth, 1927

Patent # 445,860
New York, 1931
Patent # 1,828,315

Nova Scotia, c.1930 (?) Richardson, U.K.,
Patent # 403,822
Rosler, Germany, 1956
Patent # 945,899
Cogdell electric triple-neck guitar-mandolin, 1959, Pat #D186,688

Dawson electric guitar & mandolin double-neck, 1971, Pat #D224,841 Ezaki, Japan, 1972
Patent # 3,636,809
Pelensky, Philadelphia, 1972
Patent # 3,392,618
Salomao, Brazil, 1986,
Pat # BR8501179A
Artru, 1990,
Patent# 2,643,182

Andy Manson
Triple-neck instrument he made for Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones.
Fred Carlson
Todd Green, who commissioned this piece, usually plays the long neck basses open. Thus, he plays it in the manner of a harp guitar, though it is technically (and can be used as) a multi-neck guitar.
Steve Klein
strings are fully fretted.
An example that there is no limit to the number of necks a guitar can have.



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