The Knutsen-Dyer Connection   

by Gregg Miner, as part of

- with assistance from Robert Hartman

Last Update: March, 2014
Major Rewrite January, 2010

For the very latest Dyer discoveries, check the index on:

Dyer Harp Guitars
Updated June, 2013

Dyer Harp Mandolins and the Harp Plectral Quartet

Dyer Dating, Serial Numbers and Timeline
Updated June, 2013

Dyers in the BMG Magazines: An Illustrated History
(Members Only)

Dyer Catalog, c.1906
NEW! March, 2014

Dyer Harp Guitars: An Updated Overview

This is the new main section of the completely revamped and rewritten Dyer section of Harpguitars.net.  I have left it tied in to the Knutsen Archives as established in 2002, as the Dyer instruments evolved directly out of the Knutsen instruments and remain inextricably linked.  In this first section I will try to keep discussion of the complex and unresolved serial number system and timeline to a minimum, and just try to present to the novice and Larson expert alike the basic Dyer "models" - types, styles, one-offs, etc.  This subject seems to take another leap forward every time Robert Hartman publishes a new edition of his ongoing series of books on his Larson ancestors - both in the book, and then always the best discoveries before the ink is even dry!  For example, in 2008, I was finally given access to a near-complete run of Cadenza and Crescendo magazines, which were considered crucial to our research.  So in these web pages we can constantly amend and append new material, new discoveries and always new theories as the never-ending and endlessly popular story of the Larson's Dyer brand harp guitars unfolds.

For the purposes of discussion the shorthand term "Dyer" will be used throughout these pages, and should be taken to mean either the company "W. J. Dyer & Bro." (which was William J.and one brother and later three brothers), the owner W. J. himself, or some unnamed company representative.  I will also refer to Larson author and expert Robert Hartman as "Bob" (normally "Hartman" would be used, but we're too friendly for that).

As always, the books - both the Noe/Most Knutsen book and the assorted Larson Brothers books should be considered a prerequisite before reading these articles.  I will update and clarify certain things while bringing my own perspective to the subject but I don't duplicate too much of the book material here.


.

..

.

.

.

W. J. Dyer

..

.

.

C. E. Dyer

..

.

.

This ad from the 1898 St. Paul directory hints at the versatility of the company

..

.

.

The Company's letterhead, which highlights pianos and organs, can be seen on this 1905 response to a customer.

W. J. Dyer & Bro.

Most of what we know about the Dyer Company is included in Bob's books, so the reader should familiarize themselves with the information there first.  I'll include some of the family member names here just in case some relatives are out there and searching.

The Company's "W. J" was William James Dyer, who was the owner and senior partner of the business from the beginning.  The "Bro." was Charles Edward Dyer, who assisted his brother from the beginning.  Eventually, brothers Samiel.H. and David Martyn were added to the firm.  By 1894, W. J. was president, S.H. was vice president, D.M. was secretary and C.E. was treasurer. 

W. J. Dyer was born March 21, 1841 to Samuel and Ann Dyer.  He married Sarah Lee Rowland in Springfield, Massachusetts on December 16, 1863, and they had two daughters (Josephine Dyer Johnston and Louise Dyer Griggs) and one son (Edward Rowland Dyer).  The family’s final home address was 513 Grand Ave., St. Paul, Minnesota.

The store made several moves, finally landing in St, Paul, with a second facility in Minneapolis.  The company dealt with all kinds of merchandise, but as the family was always interested in promoting the pursuit of music (W. J. was an organist), they eventually became the largest distributor of musical merchandise west of Chicago.  In their first location (Faribault, Minn) they established the first music school in Minnesota and eventually outfitted their huge Minneapolis facility with teaching and practice rooms and a small concert hall.

As can be seen on the 1905 letterhead at left, pianos and organs were their biggest offering, and they carried a huge variety of brands, including pianos by Steinway, Chickering, Ivers & Pond, Kranich & Bach, Gavler and Pease, and a variety of organs, including their own Dyer Brothers Organ.  They also carried music, music supplies, band instruments, vitaphones, harps, banjos, and presumably all the common stringed instruments. 

Virtually the only evidence I have found about their non-keyboard instrument distribution is in the Music Trade Review (1880-1954) which, to all researchers' delight, was completely scanned and published online as searchable PDFs here.  (In the many hundreds of "Dyer" results, I have yet to come across anything related to the harp guitars. Yet the highly successful and important company was mentioned often - in fact, it seems every time W. J. made a trip it made the news!)  There are numerous mentions of Dyer's sales of keyboard and band instruments, with occasional images of other wares, like Victrolas and banjos.


c. International Arcade Museum


c. International Arcade Museum

Dyer exhibit, September, 1920
Minnesota State Fair
Dyer exhibit, October, 1921
Trade Fair
Where are the harp guitars?!
c. International Arcade Museum

c. International Arcade Museum
Dyer exhibit, September, 1922
Minnesota State Fair
Dyer display of Bacon banjos, December, 1924
.

An additional reference to Dyer's piano sales was found online by researcher Paul Fox.  The trade journal 'Piano Trade Magazine" featured these images in its Jan 15, 1915 issue.

"A Steinway room in the W. J. Dyer & Bro. building, St. Paul." "A section of the recital hall in the W. J. Dyer & Bro. building, St. Paul."
"A section of the retail talking machine department in the W. J. Dyer & Bro. building, St. Paul.  Entrances to sound-proof booths may be seen through the doorway with the entrance to the recital hall beyond."  W. J. Dyer, 1915

Other than the mentioned organ, there does not seem to be any other Dyer-labeled instruments.  So it is interesting to contemplate their series of harp guitars and harp mandolins, which arrived seemingly out of the blue.  One of the brothers must clearly have been a proponent of this new instrument, as they not only were supporters and early distributors of the (then) brand new Knutsen instruments, but they soon after made a dedicated and continuing effort to offer better instruments -in fact, arguably the best ever created.  In fact, in the BMG journals (which only covered fretted instruments), they never advertised anything but the harp guitar and mandolin line, other than in the last few months.  As everyone knows, these instruments were built by the Larson brothers of Chicago, though surprisingly, neither they, nor the Maurer Company which August Larson bought out in 1900 with other investors, were ever credited.  Instead, the public was always led to believe that the entire Dyer harp guitar line was manufactured at and by W. J. Dyer & Bro.

By our great good fortune, Dyer chose to advertise their harp guitars and harp mandolins for close to two decades in the Cadenza and Crescendo, the leading "BMG" magazines (periodicals devoted to the Banjo, Mandolin & Guitar).  These ads appeared for months at a time, and offer intiriguing clues.  All are collected and discussed on the Members-Only page, Dyer Harp Guitars in the BMG Magazines: An Illustrated History.

The harp guitar/harp mandolin ads completely disappeared before the end of 1919.  Dyer continued with occasional ads for strings and other, common instruments in various magazines.

(courtesy of Paul Fox)

February, 1920 ad in The Violinist magazine April, 1920 ad in Northwestern Druggist magazine

With the death of W. J. in 1925, his son Edward Rowland became president and remained so until his death in 1941. Contact with the Larsons had probably ended with Carl’s retirement in 1940.


Dyer Harp Guitars

.

..

.

 

dyer-cad6-02p58.gif (45135 bytes)
Dec, 1901 Cadenza ad

..

.


Port Townsend flyer

.

.

.cadenza,cover3.jpg (78090 bytes)
The complete run of Dyer appearances in Cadenza and Crescendo magazines - from 1894 through 1934 (Harpguitars.net Members Only)

Larson-made Dyer Type 1
c. 1901-1904

 

 

(image © Bob Hartman)

Understand that there are no official Dyer “types.”  I simply dubbed this model "Type 1" as we believed (and are now convinced) that it was the first version that the Larsons built for Dyer.  Only four verifiable specimens are so far known (that we know of) - even though ads indicate that it may have been offered for three full years.  Recently, I was able to determine the exact year and month that Dyer first introduced this model in The Cadenza: December, 1901 (see the Cadenza ad at left).  Yes, this is much earlier than previously thought.  But is it really the Larson-built Dyer type 1…or a Knutsen Symphony harp guitar?   Bob Hartman believes it is the former; I am more inclined toward the latter.  Either way, the fact is that we don’t know.  Either possibility is valid: that the ad depicts a Larson-built Dyer, or that it depicts a Knutsen-built instrument (see full details in the Dating section).

Those brand new to this subject may not be aware of the fascinating discovery of the flyer (at left) that discloses a distribution arrangement between Chris Knutsen and the Dyer company.  In their 1999 Knutsen book, Dan Most and Tom Noe theorized that Knutsen made his move to Tacoma in 1900 in order to be close to the western terminus of the Northern Pacific Railway.  To quote: "Chris Knutsen in all likelihood saw a larger market for his instruments in Tacoma, as well as a direct railroad link with St. Paul, Minnesota and other points east." (italics mine - GM
When the incredible 1898-1900 flyer from Port Townsend was discovered shortly after the Knutsen book was published (see Jean Findlay's story, "
Harmony in the Family"), it seemed Knutsen did indeed have a specific need for this railroad link - as the flyer contains the telling heading:

"NOTICE – W. J. Dyer & Bro., St. Paul, are general agents for the U.S. except Washington and California"

This indicates that Knutsen had a deal with Dyer before the Larsons got involved - probably by 1899!  What is not yet known is precisely when Knutsen's distribution arrangement ended and W.J. Dyer contracted the Larsons.  As alluded to above, we originally believed that the switch transpired in the months leading up to December, 1901, before the 1901 Cadenza ad appeared - but I am not convinced (again, see Dating). 

Serial numbers of this model (two are now known) and others will be discussed separately in the Dating section.
dyer,type1-hartmaN.jpg (78036 bytes) Dyer_type1-smith.jpg (127370 bytes) Dyer_type1_label.jpg (41398 bytes) dyer125-workman.jpg (73022 bytes) label2.jpg (280734 bytes)

The fancy specimen from Bob Hartman's first book. (image © Bob Hartman) The Knutsen-signed label is illegible, so the style and serial numbers are unfortunately not known.  It has the ornamentation of a Type 2 Style 7 instrument.

There is a second Type 1 with similar fancy Style 7 appointments known.

This third specimen, currently stripped of its finish for restoration, is very plain. To the right is the Knutsen-signed label from this instrument. (images © anonymous donor)

And we have a valid serial number!  #127.  The Style number was for a long time frustratingly indecipherable – until the fourth Type 1 turned up with a similar label (at right, photos © Robert Workman)  The serial number was just two lower - #125 – making this the lowest confirmed Dyer number (and, we believe, the 25th instrument labeled).  Best of all though was that we could read the Style number: 5.  Not quite what we were expecting, but of course, valuable information!  (yes, I know it looks like a “3”, but that is because the long, separate upper slash of the “5” − easily discernible on the serial number – is faintly penciled over the busy printing underneath).  Dyer aficionados will of course notice that it has no top binding, which all the common type 2 Dyer Style 5’s are adorned with.  It matches instead the eventual basic Style 4, though only has 3 dot markers, and different rosettes. 

Armed with this new information, we can take another look at #127 and easily see that what looked something like a “U” or a zero in is really the lower loop of the unusual (but consistent) hand-written number “5” – the remainder again being faint and masked by the print it was written over.  That Style 5 conforms to the new #125 as the plain model.

While the Larsons' Type 1 instrument copies Knutsen's "mature" Symphony model fairly accurately, close inspection reveals many refinements, such as slotted headstock for Waverly-style tuners, a neck heel, and of course better and more consistent construction.


.

.

.

.

Dec, 1904 Cadenza ad

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

1939 Dyer catalog

.

.

.

.

Dyer Dating, Serial Numbers and Timeline

.

.

.

.

The Dyer Harp Mandolin Family

Larson-made Dyer Type 2
c. 1904-1920's
This is of course the common Dyer model that so many guitarists own and love.  It is not known who modified Knutsen's original design, specifically coming up with the new "cloud" bass headstock, but most of us attribute it to the Larsons.  Like the previous Type 1, full study of the Cadenza magazine run yielded the ad (at left) showing that this model was also introduced much earlier than previously thought - December, 1904!
The very same month, a similar ad appeared in a rather strange place - the Yale Scientific Monthly.  Were they trying to reach Physics students that moonlighted in the mandolin glee clubs?

Initially it was a 5-bass instrument like Knutsen's.  Eventually 6-bass models were made, though strangely it took many years for them to mention this in their ads.  Yet musician photographs in The Cadenza and Crescendo magazines show that the 6-bass clearly became more popular over time.  Dating by number of sub-basses is impossible, other than one can assume that an early 6-bass would be unlikely.

As discussed by Hartman and Noe & Most in their respective books, early Dyers, including Type 2's, had Chris Knutsen's signature on the label.  Some of these even had the signature notarized.  The thinking was that the label changed to one without Knutsen's signature, and a new serial number series begun, when Knutsen's 14-year-term patent expired in February, 1912.  I have since come up with an alternate theory (see Dyer Dating) that this change may have possibly occurred around 1907, give or take a year.  In fact, all the harp guitar serial numbers probably need to now be moved up.

As far as we know, there was never a "style" or "model" number for this design - only a Style Number denoting the level of trim.  The plainest version is "Style 4” (which matches the original plain model Type 1 “Style 5”). The fact that there is a Style 3 Dyer of a completely different design (next shown) - a fact we only discovered in 2007 - thus confounded our research and theories.

Bob Hartman distinguishes the five Type 2 styles as:

  • #4, no binding anywhere, 4 dots on fingerboard
  • #5, bound front, 4 dot fingerboard
  • #6, bound front and back, 4 dot fingerboard
  • #7, full binding including pegheads, fancy fingerboard inlays and inlays in both pegheads
  • #8, full binding, tree-of-life fingerboard, very fancy peghead inlays, abalone trimmed top and fancy 6 string tuners
  • Center back strip is fancier in Style 7 and 8, unsure if 4, 5, and 6 are different. Many purflings were used through the years.

Production numbers for this instrument are unknown, but based on the serial numbers collected, we estimate the number of Type 2 harp guitars at between 500 and 600, perhaps somewhat less, and likely not more.  My end date of (early) 1920's in the heading above is when I think they probably stopped "full production," though special orders may have occurred - and easily been filled - for another decade.  In fact, an amazing recent find (Feb, 2005) was a Dyer harp guitar ad from a 1939 catalog! (at left).  Had anyone thought to order one, it could have still been built by Carl.  The original Style 8 was now listed as "Style 100."  Also listed were a Style 75 and 85. The company appears to have been giving their harp guitars one last gasp as the electric guitar entered the fray - they now hyped its "Amplification without Distortion"(!)  Of all the Dyer harp guitar labels known so far, none has been found with one of these new Style numbers, and we suspect that few, if any, would have been built or sold after the harp guitar's heyday (from 1900-1920s).  Note the new recommended tuning of the sub-basses: G-A-Bb-B-C-D (low to high).

dyer2.jpg (20111 bytes) dyer2label.jpg (23013 bytes) dyer_label.jpg (20280 bytes) dyer1.jpg (99694 bytes) dyer,type2-200-miner.jpg (16740 bytes)

Early instruments have a Knutsen-signed label like this Style 7.  The duration of this early Knutsen license period is now in debate. Originally thought to have lasted until February, 1912 when Knutsen's second patent expired, I believe it may have ended as early as 1906 or 1907, though this is conjecture.  Most often, Knutsen's red pencil signature is completely faded, though the label can still be identified.
(image from From Harp Guitars to the New Hawaiian Family, courtesy Tom Noe)

Standard post-Knutsen license label, year of transition unclear. Stephen Bennett's infamous Style 4, serial #669, has a handwritten date of 1909 on the label.  I am leaning towards this date being accurate. Type 5 ads top binding to the plain Style 4.

Surprisingly, all five Type 2 styles appear in very equal numbers.

This unusual Dyer Style 6, #917, has a slightly lower, more centered bridge.

Here is an early Style 6 with Knutsen-signed label.

Style 8, serial # 690

Something we have not yet fully addressed are the surprising differences among Type 2 specimens.  There is the obvious difference in the two sub-bass configurations, five being standard for the first few years, then giving way to six.  Bob has noted that there are many variations on the inlay and trim used for the five style levels.  One interesting variation is the inclusion of sequins to create an extra-flamboyant (and gaudy) stage instrument.  At first, the few examples found were thought to have been later modified or customized - but when similar designs were found on multiple instruments, Bob began to wonder.  Especially when he found the sequin stash among the Larsons' remaining supplies!   


This "custom" addition of sequins to the bridge may have been something the Larsons offered from time to time.  However, the other custom inlays on this instrument were definitely added by the original owner. (image courtesy John Doan)

Another variance is size.  We have now seen an incredible amount of difference in some of the specimens found, particularly in body depth.  Specifically, specimens were previously known with a body depth at the end pin between 4 and 4-1/2" (4", 4-1/4" 4-1/2" are specific specimens I have measured).  Recent finds have maximum body depths of 3-7/8" all the way down to 3-5/16"!!  Apparently, there seems to be no standard.

Count: Currently, we know of at least 67 with legible serial numbers, plus roughly that same amount with illegible numbers or, more typically, missing labels.


.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

 

The Mysterious Five-Course Harp Mandola - Another Knutsen-Dyer Connection????

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

 

Larson Brothers Iconography

Larson-made Dyer Type 3
c. 1907
(1906, 1907, 1908?)
or c. 1912
The obscure Larson-built Dyer "Type 3" (seven now currently known) appears to be a variation on Knutsen's earliest  Seattle period "Lower Bass Point" harp guitars.  But again, the "chicken or the egg?" ("Knutsen or Larson?") question stymies us again - so the Knutsen or Larson design question will be discussed at length in the Dating section.  Regardless, Bob postulates that they brought it out to offer an option with a smaller body and a shorter scale length.  Indeed, as it turns out, every specimen that has turned up that we have been able to measure has the same 14" body width and a roughly 3/4 scale of 21-22+".  We think that these smaller scale instruments - of which Knutsen also made a huge quantity - were geared towards women, children and anyone with smaller hands, and typically tuned to standard pitch.

Labels in the recently found specimens also yielded another interesting find.  By a complete coincidence, what I had dubbed a "Type 3" simply for organization and discussion turned out to be Dyer's ""Style 3"!  This would seem to have some obvious relation to the fact that the Type 2 ornamentation styles start at 4 - but I cannot adequately explain itAgain, see Dating for my speculation.

Unlike Knutsen's guitars of this period and style, Larsons have a neck heel.  All Type 3 specimens have a bridge identical to the typical bridge of a Dyer Type 2 (above). The slotted headstock and veneer seem to match the Type 2 Dyer Symphony style.  Note the square, box-like bass arm terminus, which appears on all specimens. This was the first Style 3 label, found in 2007.  Serial number 624 or 629.

(images copyright and courtesy Forrest Buckman)

Additional Dyer Style 3's with labels have now also been found, and show that the label was not a one-shot - they are all "Style 3" and all so far have a low 600 series serial number (Update, Jan, 2013: with one higher number of 673).   Note the unusual sub-bass nuts.                   (images copyright and courtesy Robert Hartman)

Fortunately for our research, Bob Hartman was able to finally obtain his own rare Dyer Style 3 in August, 2008.  He writes:

"This is a wonderfully preserved, Larson Brothers built specimen of the rarest of the Dyer models.  The 608 serial number is the lowest known to date in the 600 series, which is believed to have started in 1912. The body shape is evidently patterned after Knutsen’s 1906-1908 model, which has a similar body point, bass peghead shape and semi-cutaway upper bout. That year Knutsen differed from the Larson version, having 13 frets clear of the body and a (longer) scale length (though many similar ¾ size Knutsen instruments would soon appear with 19-20” scale lengths – GM).  The woods used comply with the standard styles 4-8 and the craftsmanship and quality is comparable. The body size is smaller than its counterpart Dyer styles, which have a 16” lower bout.  Aside from the very neat body point on the bass bout this little lovely has 15 frets clear of the body!  It appears to be all original except for the standard neck bass side tuners.  The bracing pattern is different from the standard styles; not quite an X pattern and not ladder or Z pattern either.  It is more like a complicated H pattern.  The fingerboard is radiused for steel strings.  The sub-bass nuts are metal bars, possibly aluminum, which are not seen on the other two examples."

  • Total length: 38”

  • Scale length” 22-5/16”

  • Upper bout: 12”

  • Lower bout: 14-3/8”

  • Body depth: 4”

  • Harp scale longest string: 30.5"

>>> The Style 3 compared in size to the common Dyer and Bob's one-of-a-kind Larson


And compared to a 3/4 size Knutsen "double point."

dyer-knutsencompare.jpg (28046 bytes) dyer3-stutzman-doan.jpg (48996 bytes)

Update, January, 2013: A seventh Style 3 has long been hiding right under our noses, owned by Bob Brozman (who tragically took his own life in April, 2013).  Curiously, it has a somewhat later serial number: 673 (not a hard to read "613" but definitely a "7" according to Bob).

The third Style 3 label found in 2009 had the lowest number - 603.  The instrument looks essentially like Bob's. Note the more bulbous shape of the upper and lower bouts on the treble side of the Larson instruments when compared to the closest Knutsen-built instrument.  This Dyer Type 3 specimen is the instrument mentioned on page 43 of the Noe/Most book.
 (images copyright Dan Most Estate & Kerry Char)
This otherwise consistent Type 3 Dyer appears to have different binding and natural-colored headstock.  No label.
(image copyright Stutzmans Guitars, courtesy John Doan)
This is now the sixth Dyer Style 3 recorded (by John Doan in December, 2011).  Another legible label!  As presumed, No. 610 falls right into place with the others.  Family lore has it as purchased new "about 1909" which fits pretty well with our new timeline.
(image copyright James Kempton)
IMPORTANT: ALL DYER HARP GUITAR OWNERS are encouraged to submit a photo and Style/Serial # of their instrument to The Larson Brothers Guitar Registry, maintained by John Thomas.  Additionally, I am adding measurement specs to the Harpguitars.net Dyer Database.  Please specify (if known) Style #, Serial #, Knutsen-signed or notarized label, number of basses, width and depth of body, any known provenance, and any unusual features.  Send to gregg@harpguitars.netWe are especially looking for specimens of Type 1 and 3!

Can't read your serial number?  Try this:  Turn off all room lights (and access to natural light) and shine a black light into soundhole (Warning: UV exposure is dangerous. Avoid looking directly into bulb).  The Style #, Serial #, and "C. Knutsen" signature may appear under this lighting.

The Larson Brothers Guitar Registry
(maintained by John Thomas)
&

The Dyer Database

I am compiling a Table of Dyer Harp Guitar Measurements Variation to accompany the GAL plans.
Please help by providing yours!

Including Spectacular X-rays of a Dyer Style 7 by John Thomas!

 

Tunings

Historical (and modern) tunings for harp guitar sub-bass strings are listed in the Harpguitars.net Tunings page chart.  However, the Dyer's "original tunings" are not known.  We assumed that they simply copied the original Knutsen tunings for the first 5-bass version, but early ads were touting the ease of "playing in flat keys" - so someone may have developed a new tuning (for the 5-bass, then 6-bass) that was different from both Knutsen's and Gibson's.  Original stringing is believed to have been some sort of steel or silk & steel for the neck, and steel wound over silk for the sub-basses.  By 1890/1891, two types of silk and steel strings were available - steel wound on white silk (think of this as a "classical" string, which was later replaced with nylon core), and steel wound over a steel and silk compound (presumably like modern silk and steel strings).  We have seen several Dyers that appear to have original strings on them, and the most recent analyzed (by John Doan) has sub-basses of steel over silk, with a peculiar wrap around to form a ball end.  The gauges on this example (curiously strung in a "re-entrant" tuning, rather than linear) included: .054", .060, .062 and .068.


Addendum 5/1/2005

No sooner did we learn of the 1939 Dyer advertisement above, than an even stranger mystery turned up - a sunburst, trapeze tailpiece Dyer!  Was it another last gasp of the dying Dyer? Well, that's an interesting question....

See A Dyer Detective Story.



A One-of-a-kind  Larson

Addendum April, 2007

I had to wait patiently until Bob Hartman's Centennial Edition finally came out, so he could have the scoop on this find.  Here are additional color photos, graciously supplied by Bob.

This instrument blew us away.  It is unlike anything else built by the Larsons or Knutsen.  Bob believes it is a special Larson instrument, judging by the many Larson features, including the fingerboard binding on a ledge of ebony, 5-piece laminated neck, side-reinforcing cloth strips, Larson-style inlays, and Larson-style neck and heel.  Judging by that list, Bob is probably right - still, I got much more of a Knutsen vibe from it.  It's clear from the quality that Knutsen didn't build it - yet the body size, depth and shape scream Knutsen, and are much closer to his instruments than to the Type 3 Dyer.  That pickguard is pure Knutsen also.  Though he almost never used it on this harp guitars, it could be right off one his his harp steels.  The headstock is the most distinctive and curious feature of course; a fascinating affair unlike anything in all the Harpguitars.net galleries.  When further queried as to its Larson aspects, Bob provided more ammunition:

  1. Asymmetrical body where the changes follow the Larson norm (top and back dimensions vary in a predictable manner).

  2. Top and back have a ¼” rise in the bridge area while the sides are well rounded in the Larson fashion.
    I circa dated it at 1910 but it could have been as early as 1905.

  3. The standard (laminated) neck has engraved Waverly tuners commonly used by the Larsons. The bass tuners were Champion banjo friction pegs commonly used by the Larsons on all their Dyers.

  4. The soundhole binding sits on a very thin ledge of spruce, also a Larson trait. Top and back multi-ply bindings rounded rather than flat.

  5. Since this Dyer has a flat classical fingerboard, 17” maple body (instead of the mahogany 16” on the Type 1’s and 2’s) and bracing (see drawing) that is like a cross between ladder and X and the fact that it was strung with ancient metal wound, nylon core strings and no label, leads me to believe there is a possibility that this could be the elusive Style 2 of the Dyer/Larson line! This could have been offered as an alternative to the steel strung version, possibly along with the Styles 3,4,5,6,7,and 8 in 1906! The possibility remains that is was a special order one-of-a-kind! In any case I am totally convinced that it is Larson-made.


Addendum 1/1/2011

Did the Larsons do a custom dark top Dyer?  Or 2...?

See The Valentino Dyer on Gregg's Blogg

March, 2014

Original c.1906 Dyer Symphony Harp Guitars catalog discovered!


Dyer Harp Mandolins & the Harp Plectral Quartet Dyer Dating, Serial Numbers and Timeline

Dyer in the BMG Magazines: An Illustrated History (Members Only)

See also Robert Hartman's site: http://www.larsonscreations.com

And finally...if you don't have this book by now, you should!

Signed copies available from Bob, or unsigned from Harp Guitar Music.


If you enjoyed this article, or found it useful for research, please consider supporting Harpguitars.net so that this information will be available for others like you and to future generations. Thanks!

To Harp Guitars

Home

If you enjoyed this article, or found it useful for research, please consider making a donation to The Harp Guitar Foundation
which supports Harpguitars.net, so that this information will be available for others like you and to future generations. 
Thank you for your support!


Harpguitars.net
Home

The Harp Guitar Foundation            The Harp Guitar Gathering®

History          Players         Music         Luthiers         Iconography         Articles 

 Forum                 About                Links                Site Map                Search               Contact

All Site Contents Copyright © Gregg Miner, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright and Fair Use of material and use of images: See Copyright and Fair Use policy.