Knutsen Convertible Hawaiian Guitar    

Owner Tom Noe tells me of this instrument:

"An interesting story regarding the convertible Knutsen is the ugly-duckling-to-swan transformation and Dan Most's involvement in that. I was in Danny's Music in Everett one day in early 1994 and they had a "Weissenborn" for sale for $700. I knew it wasn't a Weissenborn, but it was a wooden Hawaiian guitar and so after a little haggling, I bought the guitar for $600. By then Dan and I were good friends, and I told him I thought I had a Knutsen. So he came over and looked at it, and said,"I can't believe you paid $600 for this pile of crap!" It was as described on page 110 of the book. Danny Mangold (Danny's Music) had told me to put the heaviest strings I could find on it to try to bring out the sound, so I did and the headstock snapped off. I glued the headstock back on and just hung the guitar on the wall. Then one fall Saturday in 1998, I decided to work on the guitar a little while watching a UW Huskies football game. I took a putty knife and started peeling the thick coating of Varathane off the back, and then I peeled up the veneer on the back. When I discovered the original convertible neck and hardware inside the reconstructed square neck, I called Dan and told him what I found. He came right over and was quite excited. He says, "You're not going to do any more work on this guitar!" With that, he put the guitar in his car and drove off. About a month later, he returned the guitar to me, beautifully restored! 
The original neck, which was made of brittle Douglas fir, had been thinned (to accommodate the box walls of the square neck) and weakened, which is what caused the headstock to snap off under string tension. Dan created a whole new neck and headstock out of koa wood and used the original hardware brackets. The guitar is now wonderful sounding, is one of my favorites, and was used as the front cover and back cover of the book!"
Additional photos and information can be found in From Harp Guitars to the New Hawaiian Family by Noe & Most.

hcw3.jpg (37076 bytes)

(image copyright Tom Noe)

Knutsen Archives Inventory Number

HCW3

                 Category

Convertible Guitars

                 Body Style

"Weissenborn-shaped"

                 Current or last known owner

Tom Noe

                 Year (approx)

1914-1920s

                 Label

remnants of yellow "New Hawaiian Family" label

                 Label Code LA2

                 Courses / Strings

6 strings

                 Frets

raised metal to 12th fret, then inlaid wood

                 Scale length 25"
                 Neck Joint convertible bracket 

Woods

Top

spruce

Back & Sides

koa

Neck

unknown

Fingerboard

unknown

Bridge

unknown

Headstock veneer

unknown

Binding, trim

Top

rope

Back

none

Fingerboard

none

Headstock(s)

none

Soundhole

rope, wood

                 Inlay

Pearl dot fret markers

                 Pickguard

none

Dimensions Upper Bout 10"
Lower Bout 15"
Body at endpin 4-1/8"

                 Comments

Instrument pictured in Noe/Most, p.110-111

 

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