Knutsen Harp Guitar    

NOTE: Read what I wrote below in 2002, then go to the next instrument and see more support of my "evolution" theory - I'm getting good at this!

Here's a bizarre, fascinating instrument!
The owners, Leonard Coulson and Kennard Machol of Intermountain Guitar and Banjo in Salt Lake City, confirm that the guitar is all original, including the strange bass headstock - the only one like it known (until the next specimen turned up in Dec, 2004!).
But why this strange headstock - since all the other Symphony models were so uniform? Was it an early Symphony model experiment?
Actually, I believe it was the Symphony model prototype! - a true Missing Link between the patent-style models and the final Symphony model.
Several clues: It's definitely from the same early period as Knutsen's personal instruments - strings, tuners, inlay, trim, bridge are all similar. But note how the bridge runs very straight for the bass strings, not yet sloping downwards - a leftover from the straight bridge of the patent-style model?
And the bass headstock itself - it seems to me that Knutsen was emulating the same general shape of the original patent-style bass headstock, but altering it in a way to better contain the tuners. We know how poor the original bass nut design was.
And two more subtle points in the bass arm. I believe that the next two instruments (HGT28 & 15) have that slight kink in the bass headstock as a holdover from this instrument. The kink occurs at the same spot as the bend in this one. We know that Anna's HGT28 is the earliest confirmed dated instrument, so the chronology/evolution makes sense. 
And finally, the upside-down "V" of the bass arm to headstock transition. This feature remains on the next six instruments - all of which are known to be among the earliest instruments. After this, Knutsen uses a simple curved border at this junction. Interestingly, the Larsons duplicated this later feature, but then revisited the "V", using it - now pointed in the opposite direction - on their own famous Symphony models.

hgt31.jpg (22903 bytes)

hgt31close.jpg (34889 bytes)

hgt31back.jpg (18532 bytes)

hgt31head.jpg (30575 bytes)

Click on a  picture to enlarge
(images copyright Leo Coulson)

Knutsen Archives Inventory Number

HGT31

                 Category

Tacoma Harp Guitars (Port Townsend built)

                 Body Style

"Pre-Symphony"

                 Current or last known owner

Intermountain Guitar & Banjo

              Year (approx)

1898-1899

                 Label

none

                 Courses / Strings

18 course: 6 strings on neck, 5 bass, 7 treble

               Frets

straight

                 Scale length unknown
                 Neck Joint no heel

Woods

Top

unknown

Back & Sides

unknown

Neck

unknown

Fingerboard

unknown

Bridge

unknown

Headstock veneer unknown

Binding, trim

Top

multi-colored wood, ivoroid?

Back

ivoroid?

Fingerboard

none

Headstock(s)

none

Soundhole 3 wood rings (1 multi-colored)

                 Inlay

fancy pearl fret markers and headstock inlay

                 Pickguard

none

                 Comments

 

 

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