A Knutsen Bass Guitar?  
by Gregg Miner, as part of The Knutsen Archives

woolsey.jpg (33387 bytes)

basscompare.jpg (39641 bytes)
(Knutsen Hawaiian HW6, Woolsey mystery instrument, Gibson mandobass, Prairie State giant guitar.
All instruments to scale)

woolsey2.jpg (40133 bytes)

This is either a bizarre novelty - or the find of the decade!

Knutsen historian Ben Elder wasn't sure if he had remembered it or only dreamt it - a Knutsen-esque guitar in the Wheeler & Woolsey comedy Cockeyed Cavaliers, from 1934. 
So I found a rare video copy, and went over it with a fine tooth comb.
Sure enough - in the pictures above, Robert Woolsey serenades Thelma Todd on what looks like an oversized Knutsen.
But what IS it? 
Was Knutsen himself asked to make a prop guitar for Hollywood in his last years? 
Did some Studio prop master happen to have a Knutsen lying around, and copy the headstock and bridge?
Or was it, in fact, a Knutsen six-string bass guitar?

It sure looks like a real instrument. It has tuners, six strings, a horizontal back brace, and dot fret markers in the proper locations.
Though the body shape is somewhat different, it has a headstock and bridge typical of many of Knutsen Hawaiian guitars, especially HW6, shown above.
The bridge appears scalloped at the ends, with the standard mounting screws right where they should be (not discernible in the photos).
The neck was hard to see, but appeared Spanish style. No label was visible.
But the size!

After some calculations, it would seem to be about five feet long, perhaps a bit less. That would put the scale length around 42-43", like my Gibson mandobass above. The lower bout would be around 25" wide, and the body appeared to be about 5-6" deep. The main problem is the neck, which is abnormally wide. Even the huge six-string Prairie State bass guitar above does not have a neck anywhere near as wide. 

So - cast your votes. Do I add it to the Inventory, or laugh it off?

Click on an image to enlarge
(images copyright Gregg Miner, except giant Praire State guitar, copyright and courtesy Robert Hartman)


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