Knutsen Guitars: A Look Inside  

by Gregg Miner, as part of

One of the interesting, much-discussed, but little-explored topics of Knutsen's instruments are the bracing systems he used on  his many instruments. Like other features of these instruments, the bracing patterns were constantly evolving, the braces themselves of varying, seemingly random degrees of quality. Rather than trying to explain bracing patterns like "modified-fan" or "ladder," I believe a picture is worth a thousand words - especially in Knutsen's case!

Of course, to obtain the pictures, one needs to remove the back of the instrument - but as this seems to be a somewhat frequent necessity for repairing Knutsen instruments, we should find quite a few to examine!  I am arranging those available in roughly chronological order, to look for any transitional features. Luthiers and repairpersons will undoubtedly have far better observations on these images than I, so please share your thoughts (and please send in your images of disassembled instruments). As usual, the thumbnails expand to only a page high or so (web space rapidly fills up!) - if anyone requires large, high-resolution images for study, just ask.

Harp Guitars

Note: Without removing the fingerboard, it may be impossible to tell if those neck joints with heels are indeed dovetailed.

braceshgp6top.jpg (18712 bytes)braceshgp6back.jpg (16683 bytes) braceshgp7top.jpg (19100 bytes) hgp21topbraces.gif (178138 bytes)hgp21backbraces.jpg (52256 bytes)
HGP6
(Dan Most called this top "light ladder bracing" - intended for gut strings)
HGP7
(DM: "light ladder bracing")
HGP21

(images copyright Kerry Char)

(images from eBay)
braceshgt6.jpg (26074 bytes) braceshgt9top.jpg (22634 bytes)braceshgt9back.jpg (16284 bytes)  braceshgt37.jpg (45517 bytes) braceshgs4.jpg (25311 bytes) braceshgs26back.jpg (16163 bytes) braces_hgs35front-ken_miller.jpg (56464 bytes) braces_hgs35back-ken_miller.jpg (32242 bytes) braces_hgs35front_close-ken_miller.jpg (92693 bytes)
HGT6
(Dan Most called this top "modified fan" bracing - for steel strings, but ironically weaker than X-bracing)
 HGT9
(DM: "modified fan" bracing)
HGT37
(This is the instrument that had the treble bridge bank and bridge section removed. The hacker also tried attaching the trebles to the tail edge of the top, which is what probably ripped it off)
HGS4
(Dan did not discuss this bracing)
 HGS26

(image copyright Danl Terry)

 

HGS35

(images copyright Ken Miller)

(images copyright Kerry Char)


Hawaiian Guitars & other instruments

braceshw20front.jpg (28436 bytes) braceshw20back.jpg (21772 bytes)          
HW20     HM7        
(images copyright Ben Elder) (images copyright Ron Petit)

Here are all the types of bracing Dan Most and Tom Noe refer to in their book, along with list of instruments with that form.
Terms in quotes are theirs. Likewise, the presumed intended strings are their deductions.
There is now hard evidence that steel strings were offered as an option on certain American guitars in 1890.

Top bracing

Presumably for:

Inv #

Style

Noe/
Most page

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top bracing

Presumably for:

Inv #

Style

Noe/
Most page

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top bracing

Presumably for:

Inv #

Style

Noe/
Most page

"light ladder"

 

 

"gut strings"

 

 

HGP2

1896 Patent-style

20

"modified fan"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"steel (though actually weaker than X)"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HGT3

Symphony

28

"ladder"

 

 

 

 

 

 

"steel"

 

 

 

 

 

 

HCW1

Hawaiian Weissenborn-shaped Convertible

52

HGP6

1898 Patent-style, no basses

21L

HGT4

Symphony

31

HCW2

Hawaiian Weissenborn-shaped Convertible 56

HGP7

1898 Patent-style, 3 basses

22

HGT5

Symphony

33

HCS1

Hawaiian Spanish-shaped Convertible

58

"X"

"possibly to accommodate steel"

HGP5

1898 Patent-style, no basses

21L

HGT6

Evolving Symphony

34

HHW2

Harp-Hawaiian Weissenborn-shaped

103

HGT8

Evolving Symphony

36

HHW3

Harp-Hawaiian Weissenborn-shaped

107

HGT9

Evolving Symphony

37

HCP11

Harp Hawaiian Upper Treble Point Convertible

108

HGS2

Lower Bass Point, Short Arm

49

HCW3

Hawaiian Weissenborn-shaped Convertible

110

HGS3

Lower Bass Point

50

HW2

Hawaiian Weissenborn-shaped

113

HGS5

Lower Bass Point

69

HW3

Hawaiian Weissenborn-shaped

114

HGS6

Lower Bass Point

70

HGS7

Lower Bass Point

71

HGS9

Lower Bass Point

76

HGS10

Lower Bass Point, Short Arm

78

HW1

Hawaiian Weissenborn-shaped Tenor

105


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