by Gregg Miner, as part of The Knutsen Archives

NOTE: The following is my suggested sequence of the evolution of Knutsen's bass string headstocks with approximate dates. As new evidence and examples come to light, I will continue to refine or reorganize it.

The original One Armed Guitar, patented in 1896, with short bass arm and no extra strings.  Knutsen received his second patent in 1898 for his harp guitar with a long arm. This original design could hold 2, 3 or 5 bass strings, and sometimes had none. 1897-1898 The Symphony style prototype allowed more room for proper tuners and nut posts for the 5 bass strings. 1898-1899 Perhaps realizing that it looked too much like an elephant's trunk, Knutsen experimented with his first personal "lefty" (reversed  for diagram). 1898-1899 Ultimately, he designed the very attractive new bass headstock. The arm retains a slight bend from the previous design. 1898-1899 The arm is smoothed out for the final "mature" Symphony model. 1899-1902

See further details below

The "Evolving Symphony" headstocks begin with a gradual change from the standard Symphony shape. 1902-1903

See further details below

An extra flare is added at the end. 1903-1904 The new flare is lengthened, while the right pointed flare is now being reduced. 1904-1906 The new Seattle period Lower Bass Point harp guitar is introduced. The first models have a very similar headstock, with further reduced right flare.
(Type 1a) 1906-1908

 

The concave tip becomes convex and the headstock more vertical.
(Type 1b) 19
07-1909
 The top of the headstock becomes smooth as the point in the middle is removed.
(Type 1c)
1910-1912
The extra point  is re-introduced, the two bordering areas scalloped.
(Type 2a)
1911-1913
An extra point on the left is added as the headstock becomes more vertical and bulbous.
(Type 3a)
1912-1913
Four points are retained while the top point gets a club shape.
(Type 3b) 1912-1913
The club is removed as the upper left point moves to the top and the bass headstock becomes completely vertical.
(Type 3c) 1913-1914
The point at upper right is moved further upwards.
(type 3d) 1913-1914

See further details below

Possibly the last type of bass headstock used, from a specimen dated
(Type 3e) 1913-1914.
Still vertical, but the top left point is rounded while the other points shift a bit.

To illustrate how difficult analysis and arrangement of the Knutsen instruments is:

(#HGT1) This is the "mature" Symphony model as in the 6th black silhouette above - probably the earliest form without the "kink." Believed to be patterned by hand, it may be that each is slightly different. Regardless, the Symphony bass headstock shape gradually changed in the next year or two into versions like the next example. 

 

(#HGT29) This appears to be the latest true "Symphony" model in the Archives so far. Nevertheless, it may have again gradually morphed, rather than jumped, into the next example.:

 

(#HGT36) This is representative of the next (7th) silhouette above - the first "Evolving Symphony."  Though it has indeed "evolved" from the first photo, it does appear more closely related to the second photo than to the next "Evolving Symphony" (8th silhouette above). However, these examples incorporate a new bridge design, which provided a place to finally draw the line of separation between the two "models." After more instruments are found, we may find that this one gradually morphs again into the next!

Similarly, silhouettes #9 & 10 above appear as close to each other as the styles preceding and following.
Yet here is another separation of "models" - happily, an easier choice, as here the noticeable "lower bass point" was added to the body.

Here's a look at the fascinating final period Seattle harp guitar bass headstocks. I've sized them roughly the same and lined up the nuts. These seem to show a smooth progression between the "types" I have assigned above. Note how the vibrating length of the basses increases in succession, and the use of tuning pins, then return of geared tuners!
Type 3c gradually becomes: Another 3c, which is morphing closer to: Type 3d, which extends upwards further into: Another 3d, which I believe finally becomes: Type 3e (with the same tuners arrangement)

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

[Biographical] [Instruments] [Historical Photos]
[
Credits] [FAQ] [Bibliography] [Updates] [Links] [Contact]
[
Home (Knutsen Archives)] [Home (Harpguitars.net)

All Site Contents Copyright  Gregg Miner, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005,2006. All Rights Reserved.

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